Surveying the insurtech landscape in 2018

Whether we like it or not, the world of insurance is changing fast. A boom of insurtech has opened the door to new solutions, new products, and entirely new ways of serving the customer. Grinnell Mutual has chosen to walk through that door — to engage with the future and ensure we’re part of it.

So, we’ve been poking around, following industry-watchers and analysts to learn what 2018 might hold. There are lots of opinions — some of which contradict each other — but it’s helpful, to all of us, to see what experts have on their minds.

“Insurtech funding volume increased 36 percent year-over-year in 2017,” said CB Insights, a technology market intelligence platform, in its 2017 fourth-quarter insurtech briefing.

Surprisingly, however, CB Insights also found that marketplace disruption is not the focus of most startups. The company cites research from McKinsey & Company, which found that 61 percent of insurtech companies’ goal is to enable the value chain and just 9 percent are aiming for full-scale disruption.

Moving forward and embracing changing opportunities is the only way to stay relevant. So, what are some trends worth thinking about?

InsuranceThoughtLeadership.com has some ideas.

Data-driven services

To really become part of customers’ daily lives, new data streams from connected devices need to be turned into new insights, and these new insights need to be turned into new propositions and services. This is where insurance carriers need to explore opportunities beyond their traditional primary process to really help solving the real problem that customers are facing. Many insurtechs are dedicated to supporting incumbents in these efforts.

Invisible insurance

Think of machine-to-machine payments, of what Amazon is doing with Dash, and how you pay for a ride with Uber and for a song at iTunes. We see the same thing happening in insurance. You purchase a product and there is already an insurance embedded in that. For instance, when you buy a BMW i3 or i8, it includes a seven-day free-of-charge, comprehensive car insurance from BMW Car Insurance. Customers are then provided with an overview of insurance options available to them after their seven-day free policy has expired, all designed and backed by Allianz.

Meet people where they are

It’s more and more necessary to understand the need behind the insurance solution and being present in that context. Insurers need to move upstream and be present in the context of specific life events and decisions, big and small.

Innovation multiplied

In a recent study, DIA academic partners Alexander Braun and Florian Schreiber (University of St. Gallen) argue that real innovations require combinations of innovative new models. Now think about insurtechs working closely together, combining their ideas to come up with something that is even more innovative. Innovation multiplied.

Cooperation

Scale economies get an extra meaning. It’s about ever-growing added value through network effects. Network effects can be created by leveraging the growth and activity of established allied platforms. PayPal, for instance, grew on top of eBay. And competitors will need to cooperate — few carriers have sufficient size to do this by themselves.

People power

To relate to their customers, financial institutions need to embrace the feelings side. Humans inject emotion, empathy, passion, and creativity, and can deviate from the procedure if needed. Deploying technology to empower front-line people such as brokers and agents results in better conversations, higher conversion, and finally, greater solutions for customers.

Good citizenship

New digital technologies offer insurance carriers the opportunity to be a force for good in their communities. More and more insurers leverage insurtech to tackle important global challenges today and in the future. Micro-insurance solutions are offering protection to low-income populations that were previously considered uninsurable. Insurtechs strike the right chord among millennials who are dangerously underinsured. And insurtech innovation is helping to offset the damage caused by natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods.

Learn more about insurtech

Visit Insurance Thought Leadership to read the rest of the top 10 insurtech trends.

What to learn more about insurtech? Kurt Eaves, vice president of underwriting, sales, and service, shared five advantages insurance carriers get by investing in insurtech.