Insurance

4 Ways in which the US Insurance Industry is Disrupting Itself

December 7, 2015 — Coming off from attending the Insurance Executive Conference last week in New York, I am extremely excited by what I heard regarding where the industry is heading.

I attended both Life and P&C tracks, picking up the following insights:

1. Insurance carriers are embracing change. Anwar Haneef, Partner of the Global Insurance Industry Leader at IBM Watson, said “We have not seen much disruption in the insurance industry in the last 100 to 200 years” and acknowledged that new technologies have the potential of changing that.  Jeffrey Killian, VP of Inforce Service and Operations at New York Life, stated “We could become Blockbuster (Video) if we don’t go through the change.”

2. Insurance carriers are focusing on their customers in a new way. For example, Gerald Patterson, SVP of Retirement and Investor Services at Principal Financial group, spoke of Principal’s move away from thinking about customer service and instead focusing on the customer experience, on providing value to the customer, and understanding that young consumers expect the same technology that they experience with other service providers from insurance carriers.  He also stressed the importance of embedding experimentation in your customer experience on a regular basis.

3. Insurance carriers are embracing technology and planning for a different future. At the highest level, for example, Jane Chwick, former Partner in charge of global technology at Goldman Sachs, provides technology expertise as a Board member of the relatively young company Voya Financial.  Patterson mentioned that he has recently spent time visiting Silicon Valley and attending Fintech conferences.  Killian acknowledged that realizing a company’s vision of customer experience requires investment and pointed out that Principal is committed to making the right investments to accomplish this.  He remarked “We have invested a lot in Lean Six Sigma.  It’s amazing how much energy you can unlock through these processes.”  Joe Beneducci, Chairman, President and CEO of Prosight Specialty Insurance, said “Technology is a catalyst that affords us options.”  Life insurance executives discussed their expectation that the analytics movement will affect carriers’ entire value chain.  They also saw the positive impact that predictive analytics enable insurance carriers to be learning organizations.  West Hunt, VP and Chief Data Officer at Nationwide, discussed the capability of scaling human expertise through cognitive computing.  At the same time, the rise of robo-advisors and its potential threat to their business was mentioned.  Finally, the recent trend toward digital and what does it mean to the industry was raised.  Technology was discussed all over the conference.

4. Further opportunities to leverage technology were identified. Colleen Risk, Senior Analyst at Celent, mentioned the opportunity insurance carriers have of enhancing their websites to provide transaction capabilities for consumers, such as changing beneficiaries.  Recent research by Celent showed that less than 25% of life insurance carriers are doing e-delivery of contracts.  Other opportunities include: making data available throughout the company, strategies to sustain customer loyalty, developing a compelling message for life insurance, and educating millennial consumers.

I was happy to participate in the Conference and felt energized by the discussion of new topics that position the industry to continue to thrive into the future.

What do you think?  Post your comments below!

Carmen is an experienced insurance professional with 11 years in the industry with CIGNA and Swiss Re.

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