Comment & Analysis

What digital insurance looks like in practice – outflanking Covid

Last week, I suggested that one of our lessons from the Covid-19 crisis should be that digital insurers have the resilience and agility to cope with crisis situations, even when the crisis is huge, rapid, and unforeseeable.

Businesses relying on older technology, heritage software development skill sets or which don’t have digital agility baked into them, meanwhile, experienced sometimes quite serious issues during the crisis.

Now that we are a little further from our deepest point of crisis, and a little more able to think large-scale about how we operate on a day to day basis, I think it’s worth digging a little deeper into what digital transformation actually looks like in the insurance industry.

Self-serve saves staff

One inevitable consequence of operating in catastrophic circumstances, which we certainly saw recently, is that staff won’t be available in the same way they usually are. Even if remote working goes really smoothly (which itself demands modern IT infrastructure), the disruption to people’s lives and the prioritisation of health will guarantee shortfalls in staffing.

This is why self-serve solutions have really come into their own in recent times. Banks, for instance, which have historically relied on extensive call centre operations, urged their customers to help themselves by turning to mobile apps as their first port of call.

The result? Research in April showed that six million people (that’s twelve percent of British adults!) downloaded their bank’s app for the first-time during lockdown. For insurers, systems which help customers interact directly with their data will do more than scale smoothly with demand – they will also create the potential for new kinds of customer experience which empower people to take control of their policies.

Digitalised infrastructure

Getting there, however, requires more than offering customers the app itself. Behind the scenes, digital insurers will run their core systems in the cloud, serving that customer data in a scalable and agile way. Cloud hosting also simplifies remote working and sets insurers up to deal with spikes in any business function, from quotes to claims.

In the move to the cloud, digital insurers are also eliminating walls between silos of data stored for different lines of business or different processes.

By ensuring that the full lifecycle of data is available from a single source, they can both give customers broader oversight and gain a better understanding of their customers. Knowing that a customer has a new policy with one line of business but has been with the company for decades in another line of business, for instance, might really change how you work with them on a customer service level using what you have learned of thier customer engagement preferences

Between them, cloud hosting and united data will put digital insurers ahead of the curve when it comes to innovations such as leveraging GPS, IoT, and other data sources to accelerate processing – such a quoting and claims, improve accuracy, and mitigate risk. The power of that big data only comes into its own when it can interact directly with the data you hold.

Take digital seriously

Digital transformation, of course, is something which is happening in every industry – but like anything so widespread, it risks being a buzzword rather than a serious plan of action. For insurers, I like to talk more specifically about their ‘coretech’ approach – what combination of next-generation technologies, methodologies, and insurance core systems are they using to easily consume insurtech and external data to provide unique customer experiences.

I was recently speaking to one of our customers about coretech transformation, and their CEO described it as ‘the single biggest investment and initiative for our company in its lifetime’. We were midway through the project when the crisis hit, but because our development and deployment processes are all digital and cloud-based by nature, we had the ability to push forward together – in fact, once the company’s workforce was set-up to work remotely, and  problem processes like cheque payment were fully digitized, it added surplus staff to the transformation project and accelerated production.

The lesson I take from our work with this customer is that times of adversity are not the right time to hunker down, cancel projects, and see what happens. There is no turning back the clock, either on the global situation or the changes happening in our industry. The only way out is through.


Tony Grosso, SVP Global Marketing and Communications at EIS Group

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