The pandemic has highlighted inefficiencies and created new friction points for carriers and customers alike -- but the experience has also validated carriers' efforts to innovate and invest in a digital future.
As countries begin to ease COVID-19 restrictions and reopen their economies, insurance carriers will continue to focus on stabilizing their businesses, adjusting to new ways of working, and meeting their customers' needs while accelerating move towards insurance emerging technology trends, protecting the health and safety of both customers and staff. For many carriers, the crisis has accelerated adoption of emerging technologies, further fueling their innovation ambitions, and accelerating efforts to adopt a digital-first approach to customer and worker interactions, to modernize technology infrastructure and improve data capabilities, and embrace touchless, digital underwriting and claims processes.
Shift to services
Digital disruption and demanding customers mean that insurers need to innovate to stay relevant within their industry. They are experimenting with new service-based models, innovative products, and prevention. There is a shift towards a service-based model with a greater focus on proactive services and empowered customers to build the brand. The popular route for P&C insurers is through partnerships with organizations, the reverse is true for life insurance and annuity insurers, providing services in-house.
Data driven innovations
Insurance is fundamentally about protection. The foundation of industry is based on products that help protect customers from loss as a result of unexpected events. And, while this will always remain true, currently there is a shift away from traditional, largely reactive, models to the development of data-driven more proactive models. The development of new services will be increasingly driven by the rising availability of detailed data and a greater capacity to analyze it. The Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to take these services further still.
New products offerings
The traditional approach of selling protective products is nowhere near enough for the insurer of the future. Insurers are actively experimenting with emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, big data, chatbots, drones, the Internet of Things, low-code/no-code platforms, robotic process automation, smart assistants, telematics, and wearables. Some insurers may be narrowing their innovation focus as they anticipate a leaner 2021. The pace of change and innovation is reflected in spending allocated to new product development and anticipated premium volume over the next five years, with an average of a third of premium volumes coming from new propositions that are not offered today.
The industry is pursuing new technologies that can help them sell more, manage risk better, and cost less to operate. More than 40% of large insurers are expanding their innovation programs and venture investing activities. Smaller insurers are less active, constrained by resources and—in many cases—culture.
Insurance Emerging Technology Trends
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- Augmented Reality (AR)
- Aerial Imagery
- CX-Customer Experience
- IoT - Internet of Things
- RPA - Robotic process automation
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
On the top of Insurance Emerging Technology Trends is adoption of AI technologies like machine vision and natural language processing is growing across lines of business and use cases. Insurers around the world are turning to AI to cut costs, boost sales and improve service efficiency.
From helping predict customer needs to detecting fraud in real-time and predicting claims values, AI is powering insurers all along the insurance value chain.
Newer AI applications are now taking hold on the sales and distribution side to drive lead generation, automate targeted marketing, identification of sub-segment product profitability, support underwriting through the use of big data and growing sales by supporting intermediary strategies through guidance on agency business optimization, leads matching and customer propensity modeling.
Insurers’ adoption of AI to drive sales is not coincidental. Increasing competition from born-on-the-web insurers and insurance aggregators that do not rely on large, expensive agency distribution channels are putting pressure on traditional insurers that do. In this environment, operationalizing AI to drive sales is critical but it is an area that is still not well understood by many insurers.
AI will improve over multiple disciplines, including Model Ops, composite AI, and generative AI. Together, this will allow CIOs and developers to create AI models faster, and these models then to evolve dynamically.
Augmented Reality (AR)
Augmented reality is a tool to enable digitally immersed stakeholders; it has potential applications for guided underwriting, claims assessments, risk mitigation, and education. Many insurers have a substantial interest in AR, but experimentation is still at a very early stage. Companies like Apple and Google have software development kits, development studios provide AR authoring tools and support, and insurance specific vendors provide pre-built technologies with potential applications for guided underwriting and claims inspections.
Insurers are using aerial imagery and drones for post-catastrophe damage assessment, property inspection, and underwriting. The advent of the IoT, big data and artificial intelligence (including machine vision) has only increased the amount—and the accuracy—of data available from aerial imagery.
Although it is very early in the insurance industry’s adoption of blockchain technology, the long-term effect may be significant. Especially when paired with other emerging technologies such as the Internet of Things, it is an area of the potential disruption that insurers should be watching. Several carriers, such as John Hancock and Allianz, have announced projects publicly; many others are exploring the technology more stealthily. Insurtech startups like Dynamis, Safe share, and Teambrella are building insurance offerings based on blockchain.
As the technology continues to mature, both tech giants and startups are trying to gain a foothold in the space. Insurers are increasingly interested in chatbots for call centers and self-service portals, as an opportunity for a low-cost, low-touch, modern channel.
Customers increasingly, influenced by their experiences as consumers, coupled with an increasingly complex business reality are shifting from buying products and solutions to buying experiences that generate value from the first interaction to long after the order is placed. The combination of device data, advanced analytics, and AI is driving consumer behavior from passive, lookup, app-based information to an interactive, notification-driven environment. Massive amounts of data are enabling more quantification of equipment and humans enabling advanced responsive actions. Organizations are transforming to deliver better experiences in five ways:
- Reimagining the buying journey from the lens of customer experience (CX), focusing on moments that matter
- Orchestrating selling motions which utilize both digital and optimal customer-facing roles to deliver the right engagement and interactions
- Emphasizing the seller experience both internally and for channel partners
- Doubling down on customer and sales analytics to deliver prescriptive intelligence to sellers
- Modernizing the Sales Operations function to be more strategic, agile, and analytical
Low-/no-code development platforms support the development of business software without the need for traditional computer programming. It can allow non-developers to participate in the development process, increasing collaboration between the business and IT and reducing time to market and cost. Adoption of these platforms is rising as insurers accelerate their digital transformation efforts. Composite application and customer engagement are two areas where these platforms excel, broadening accessibility to mobile and cloud-native application development.
IoT - Internet of Things
The future of IoT and wearables is arriving for insurers. The large growth in the IoT and wearable device consumer market is changing customer experience and expectations.
Internet of Things (IoT) initiatives are of keen interest to insurers. While overall deployment is relatively low, the sensor and connectivity technology that enables IoT continues to improve. While most IoT and wearable device applications are experimental, insurers need to prepare for IoT in the coming years. Operationalizing IoT products introduces complexity beyond pricing and service, requiring sophisticated sampling and analytics capabilities to move from pilot phases into more complex products and services.
RPA - Robotic process automation
Robotic process automation (RPA) continues to garner attention in the marketplace. As providers shift focus from staff augmentation to business transformation projects, it is still unclear which companies are using RPA and how.
Telematics has emerged as a significant segment of the personal and commercial automotive and fleet insurance markets. Though industry adoption is still relatively low, some insurers are experiencing notable successes with penetration rates of 30-35%. Insurers have also begun to expand beyond retention discounts to create telematics-backed policies that emphasize rewards, customer engagement, and family safety. Telematics won’t dominate the industry in the near term, but it is here to stay. Insurers should consider telematics strategically, whether or not they ultimately elect to create telematics-based insurance offerings.
- Artificial intelligence and big data remain areas of intense activity. Deployment has increased for most capabilities; these remain the most-piloted technologies for 2021.
- RPA and chatbots continue to expand. These technologies are easy to drop into existing processes and provide value, so they’ve been widely adopted over the past several years.
- Insurance is going beyond direct online. Many startups are rethinking distribution, bringing products to consumers rather than just enabling direct online purchases.
- Startups previously positioned as competitors are becoming partners. Many startup “carriers” are licensing their platforms to allow insurers to develop niche products and branch into new lines of business, though the effectiveness of this pivot is yet to be proven.
- Enabling innovation is a high priority for insurers, as customer expectations continue to be set by other industries and new entrants stand to disrupt existing business models. However, innovation initiatives are still at an early stage for most insurers.
- ROI metrics are not widely used - Hard ROI is not the primary measure of success. Gains such as exposure to innovative technology and business processes for eventual operationalization seem to be the primary goals of most companies’ innovation programs and investments.
- P&C insurers tend to have better-developed innovation initiatives. Greater competition, a faster-moving market, and more obvious applications of new technologies driving more aggressive experimentation in P/C than in L/A.
- Life insurers narrow pilot focus. Less proven technologies are seeing less experimentation as life insurers balance analytics investments against new priorities for digital experience.