How InsurTech is Reshaping the Insurance Industry

By Abel Travis, Vice President, Underwriting and Product Innovation, AF Group

Abel Travis, Vice President, Underwriting and Product Innovation, AF Group

Until a few years ago, the insurance industry has been an industry unspoiled by Innovation. Within the last few years, we’ve seen startups emerge that are challenging all parts of the Insurance value chain. To the Industry’s delight, not all startups are hoping to disrupt, but instead, enable the Insurance value chain. General words of wisdom are, instead of resisting these newcomers, embrace them. You may just be surprised at how they can help transform parts of your business. 

The changing customer expectation is a core focus of InsurTech companies, which are startups merging business model and technology enablement to drive insurance innovation. While many carriers aspire to drive in-house innovation, partnering with startups that enable insurance allows those carriers to leverage talent and capabilities outside of their core discipline. While just a few years ago, there were many InsurTech’s that had technologies looking for a business model, that notion has changed, birthing an InsurTech discipline which has matured. InsurTechs are ready to enable Carriers, Agents and vendors alike to reshape the insurance industry. There are several key areas in which InsurTech is helping to transform the insurance industry that will have positive impacts for years to come.

"InsurTechs are ready to enable Carriers, Agents and vendors alike to reshape the insurance industry. There are several key areas in which InsurTech is helping to transform the insurance industry that will have positive impacts for years to come"

Improve Underwriting

Not too far in the distant past, underwriting maintained a very traditional feel, with desk underwriters relying on data collected from the Web, through manual processes or agents, to begin the renewal process. What would happen if policyholder operations changed during the policy period? Typically, an underwriter would wait for endorsements or the renewal period before reflecting that change on the policy. InsurTech’s are changing that landscape. Risks are not static and can change during the policy term. Companies like RISKpossible have developed continuous underwriting platforms designed to monitor risks with up to the minute data and analytics, thereby identifying operational changes during the policy term. For underwriters, this information can help inform customers of the hazards associated with the enhanced operations, and potentially ensure better safety of policyholder employees. 

Data and Analytics

There are many ways in which data is being leveraged across the Insurance value chain, that InsurTech’s are hoping to innovate. Companies like MakuSafe have created wearable devices intended to monitor safety conditions such as noise, temperature, and movements that may lead to accidents on the factory floor. While the wearable hardware device has value on its own resonance, the real power is not only in the data collected, but how it’s used to improve workplace safety. If within the data, trends are identified that have led to loss and injury, carriers and their agency partners can communicate these trends to policyholders, thereby reducing overall potential injury to employees.

Data and analytics also have the potential to create efficiencies in the underwriting process. Using third party data enables carriers to create efficiency in the demands of agents and brokers. InsurTech’s like Datacubes have a value proposition meant to not only underwrite in near real time, but augment application questions needed to underwrite a policy, questions generally coming from both the agent and policyholders. Doing so enables the ability for agents to focus their attention on supporting the policyholder, instead of answering questions not needed to make an underwriting decision. 

Agency Enablement

InsurTech’s are not only working to enable the carrier value stream but are also hoping to improve agency processes and efficiencies. Businesses purchase more than $350 billion in insurance premiums annually, but the workflow is wholly paper-based, and has been this way for decades. InsurTech’s like Indio Technologies have worked to transform that narrative through enabling data gathering, which is an essential part of the independent agency process. Streamlining data gathering during the application process is a back-office function that takes time, especially for agents that work across multiple carriers. InsurTech’s have worked to create a single point of entry, which in turn saves time and resources within the agency plant. Innovating the application process lends itself to future efficiencies once automated data connectivity to carriers have been established, which in turn will make it easier for carriers to obtain the necessary data to process a quote. 

Embrace Change

In the end, while there are many elements of the value-chain being addressed by the advent of InsurTech, carriers should embrace the competition driven by those vying to influence industry innovation. If carriers are hoping to keep up with the rapid change in customer expectations, they should engage those startups that are working to enable the industry. Incumbents can focus their resources and attention with these organizations, which may lead to an enhanced customer experience. Industry evolution will continue, and those that embrace instead of resist evolution will find themselves ahead of the pack.  

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