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10 Most Impactful AI-based Insurance Innovations of 2019

5 minutes, 5 seconds read

The year 2019 has been a benchmark in insurance innovations that brought in new value propositions to the industry. What’s more remarkable is — both traditional Insurers and Insurtechs are striving to offer simple, convenient, and value-added customer-centric products coupled with technology initiatives. Here are 10 noteworthy insurance innovations that shaped the industry this year.

  1. Augmented Intelligence
  2. AI-based Smart Automation
  3. Digital Insurance Broker
  4. Services Beyond Insurance
  5. Blockchain in Reinsurance
  6. Unconventional Partnerships
  7. Understanding Customers and Delivering Tailored Products
  8. Insurance on Demand Services
  9. Risk Intelligence
  10. Customer Education

10 Most Impactful Insurance Innovations of 2019

According to a recent EFMA-Accenture report, the insurance industry has witnessed growth in digital sales & services, Artificial Intelligence trends — especially machine learning and natural language processing (nlp), big data and analytics, cloud, intelligent automation, and blockchain.

However, insurance players are not just adding convenience through technology but also understanding the ‘actual’ customer needs and developing the products accordingly. Let’s discuss the impactful insurance innovations with their use cases in detail.

#1 Augmented Intelligence

While most insurers are leveraging AI to understand customers and their requirements; another idea that hits the list is to complement the knowledge of insurance employees during sales pitches and customer services. 

For example, Zelros is Augmenting intelligence of sales and customer representatives through real-time best product recommendations, advisory, and pricing based on studying the customer profile.

Zelros - augmented intelligence - insurance innovations

Similarly, Nippon Life Insurance Company has introduced an AI-powered TASKALL tablet for its sales representatives. This tablet identifies suitable prospects from the set of entire salesforce activities, thus enhancing the sales and customer representatives’ services. 

#2 AI-based Smart Automation

Smart automation corresponds to deploying intelligent technologies to gain massive operational efficiency and at the same time create value for the end customer. 

For example, South Korean Kyobo Life Insurance Co. Ltd. has developed an AI system BARO (Best Analysis & Rapid Outcome) to automate underwriting. The system uses NLP to allow sales and customer interactions in natural language.

In the same way, Religare incorporated AI-based chatbot in their workflow. Through this bot, the company has automated a number of operations like customer query resolution, customer engagement, and lead and ticket management.

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Join our Webinar — AI for Data-driven Insurers: Challenges, Opportunities & the Way Forward hosted by our CEO, Parag Sharma as he addresses Insurance business leaders and decision-makers on April 14, 2020.

#3 The Digital Insurance Broker

In 2018, in the US alone, nearly 1.2 million people worked for insurance agencies, brokers, and insurance-related enterprises. This indicates the prominence of the brokerage in insurance. Brokers might not be directly involved in product development, risk evaluation, etc.; but they play a pivotal role in insurance distribution. 

For example, Gramcover, an Indian composite insurance broking firm is leveraging mobile technologies to minimize the inefficiencies and transaction costs in distributing micro-policies.

Also read – The case for a digital brokerage

#4 Beyond Insurance

The year 2019 also witnessed the entry of technology giants like Alibaba entering the insurance space, and people welcoming them made the competition even more fierce. The World Insurtech Report 2019 states that nearly 30% of customers are interested in buying at least one insurance product from BigTech firms like Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Alibaba. 

Insurers have thus realized to embrace the ecosystem-based digital economy to deliver richer customer experiences. AG Insurance’s Phil at Home is an example of ‘beyond’ insurance services to support customers in their day to day life. The app provides house maintenance services like plumbing, electricity, etc. along with medication reminders, food delivery, etc. to its elderly customers.

Also read – The Belgian Insurance Landscape

#5 Blockchain in Reinsurance

Blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT) brings transparency to a range of insurance processes along with the secure sharing of information. The innovative use of blockchain in insurance is to reduce redundant efforts. 

For example, the US-based Aon Benfield along with partners have developed a blockchain-powered reinsurance placement solution to bring brokers and reinsurers on a collaborative platform.

Similarly, the Hong Kong Federation of Insurers in collaboration with CryptoBLK developed MIDAS (Motor Insurance DLT-based Authentication System) to authenticate motor insurance policy documents across the network in real-time.

#6 Unconventional Partnerships

Insurers’ partnerships with Insurtechs, Fintechs, and external players are presenting an opportunity to explore new customer base, test different business models, and get access to new technology frontiers. 

For example, AXA partnered with ContGuard, which provides real-time cargo tracking services. Their product — Connected Cargo Solution gives customers 24/7 monitoring and data to AXA’s risk engineers to develop loss prevention plans. This also helps underwriters to quote the price with increased accuracy.

#7 Understanding Customers and Delivering Tailored Products

Addressing the customers’ demand for personalized services, Insurers have started applying AI to understand their sentiments and requirements. They have realized that real-time digital services unlock values for both carriers and customers.

For example, the UK-based Bought By Many helps people find insurance for uncommon assets like pets, shoes, gadgets, etc. The company also negotiates with insurers for the best deals.

#8 On-demand Insurance models

The World Insurtech report 2019 reveals that nearly 41% of customers are ready to consider usage-based insurance and 37% want to explore on-demand insurance coverage. While usage-based insurance models provide as-you-go premium coverage based on customer’s potential for risky behavior; on-demand insurance allows customers to get cost-effective and convenient coverage depending on their needs.

For example, The Dinghy is an app-based on-demand freelancer insurer. It is also the world’s first on-demand professional indemnity insurance covering public liability, business equipment, legal expenses, and cyber liability.

#9 Risk Intelligence

Insurers are deploying machine learning models for risk assessment and mitigation. It not only makes the underwriting more accurate but also boosts profits by diminishing risks.

For example, ZestFinance uses automated machine learning tools to correlate current and traditional data. It helps to effectively gauge risks and outreach potential new customers.

#10 Customer Education

Pricing still presents a bigger competitive advantage than many other insurance features. Accenture’s 2019 Global Financial Services Consumer Study states – more than 75% of customers can share their personal information for better prices. 

Therefore, educating customers about potential risks isn’t sufficient. Coupling this information with available products’ prices and benefits is a must. For example, Jerry, a California-based personal insurance marketplace checks if the user is paying the best price for the insurance services. Based on an initial questionnaire, their AI-powered tools takes roughly 45 seconds to compare quotes from leading insurers and suggest optimum rate to the user.

Also read “Top 5 smartest AI-powered machines on earth.”

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Retention playbook for Insurance firms in the backdrop of financial crises

4 minutes read

Belonging to one of the oldest industries in the world, Insurance companies have weathered multiple calamities over the years and have proven themselves to be resilient entities that can truly stand the test of time. Today, however, the industry faces some of its toughest trials yet. Technology has fundamentally changed what it means to be an insurer and the cumulative effects of the pandemic coupled with a weak global economic output have impacted the industry in ways both good and bad.

Chart, line chart

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Source: Deloitte Services LP Economic Analysis

For instance, the U.S market recorded a sharp dip in GDP in the wake of the pandemic and it was expected that the economy would bounce back bringing with it a resurgent demand for all products (including insurance) across the board. It must be noted that the outlook toward insurance products changed as a result of the pandemic. Life insurance products were no longer an afterthought, although profitability in this segment declined over the years. Property-and-Casualty (P&C) insurance, especially motor insurance, continued to be a strong driver, while health insurance proved to be the fastest-growing segment with robust demand from different geographies

Simultaneously, the insurance industry finds itself on the cusp of an industry-wide shift as technology is starting to play a greater role in core operations. In particular, technologies such as AI, AR, and VR are being deployed extensively to retain customers amidst this technological and economic upheaval.

Double down on digital

For insurance firms, IT budgets were almost exclusively dedicated to maintaining legacy systems, but with the rise of InsurTech, it is imperative that firms start dedicating more of their budgets towards developing advanced capabilities such as predictive analytics, AI-driven offerings, etc. Insurance has long been an industry that makes extensive use of complex statistical and mathematical models to guide pricing and product development strategies. By incorporating the latest technological advances with the rich data they have accumulated over the years, insurance firms are poised to emerge stronger and more competitive than ever.

Using AI to curate a bespoke customer experience

Insurance has always been a low-margin affair and success in the business is primarily a function of selling the right products to the right people and reducing churn as much as possible. This is particularly important as customer retention is normally conceived as an afterthought in most industries, as evidenced in the following chart.

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        Source: econconusltancy.com

AI-powered tools (even with narrow capabilities) can do wonders for the insurance industry at large. When architected in the right manner, they can be used to automate a bulk of the standardized and automated processes that insurance companies have. AI can be used to automate and accelerate claims, assess homeowner policies via drones, and facilitate richer customer experiences through sophisticated chatbots. Such advances have a domino effect of increasing CSAT scores, boosting retention rates, reducing CACs, and ultimately improving profitability by as much as 95%.

Crafting immersive products through AR/VR

Customer retention is largely a function of how good a product is, and how effective it is in solving the customers’ pain points. In the face of increasing commodification, insurance companies that go the extra mile to make the buying process more immersive and engaging can gain a definite edge over competitors.

Globally, companies are flocking to implement AR/VR into their customer engagement strategies as it allows them to better several aspects of the customer journey in one fell swoop. Relationship building, product visualization, and highly personalized products are some of the benefits that AR/VR confers to its wielders.  

By honoring the customer sentiments of today and applying a slick AR/VR-powered veneer over its existing product layer, insurance companies can cater to a younger audience (Gen Z) by educating them about insurance products and tailoring digital delivery experiences. This could pay off in the long run by building a large customer base that could be retained and served for a much longer period.

The way forward

The Insurance industry is undergoing a shift of tectonic proportions as an older generation makes way for a new and younger one that has little to no perceptions about the industry. By investing in next-generation technologies such as AR/VR, firms can build new products to capture this new market and catapult themselves to leadership positions simply by way of keeping up with the times.

We have already seen how AR is a potential game-changer for the insurance industry. It is only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace.

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