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The insurance industry is sometimes seen as conservative and slow-moving. It has generally avoided the rapid, consumer-facing digital disruption which has revamped industries like publishing, music, or even investment advice. Some industry observers and startups, as we saw last week, believe that insurance is overdue for such change.
One area of the industry that is seeing substantial experimentation is managing points of consumer contact—in other words, customer touchpoints. Innovation in this area has driven the success of leading digital firms from Amazon to Google to Alibaba. It has also boosted customer expectations of how businesses will approach touchpoints, to which insurers are beginning to respond.
Meeting these rising expectations will require that insurers refine their existing touchpoints to be more efficient, effective, and enjoyable. Forward-thinking firms are already experimenting with new tools to make this happen. Here are four examples of insurance touchpoint refinement.
Generation Life partners with Quilt
The insurance startup Quilt aims to make applying for policies faster and easier for customers—especially millennials, which Quilt sees as an under-insured market. Quilt launched in 2016 with an online renters insurance portal. One of Quilt’s long-term goals is to partner with one legacy insurer in each insurance industry it targets. It took a step towards this in May, when it teamed up with General Life Insurance.
The partnership allows Quilt to offer General Life Insurance policies through Quilt’s online application process. Policies under $1 million can be approved in under 15 minutes, streamlining a touchpoint that can take months elsewhere.
USAA’s partnerships and investments
The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) is an American group of companies that provides insurance and other financial services to members of the American military. USAA is seen by many as an industry leader in customer service innovation. The company is engaged in many cutting-edge touchpoint projects. These include:
- A partnership with Saffron, a division of Intel, to improve customer interactions through AI. Saffron’s technology mimics the random connections between neurons in the brain and analyzes 7,000 variables to link broad patterns of consumer behavior with individual customers. According to a recent writeup from MIT, Saffron’s AI can predict, with 88 percent accuracy, what method a specific customer will use next to contact USAA—and what products that customer will be looking for.
- An investment in CaféX, a San Fransisco-based startup that makes next-generation video conferencing tools.
- A partnership with Narrative Science, the company behind the Quill AI. Quill analyzes data stored from many sources to automatically generate conversational text summaries of key insights. USAA uses Quill to enhance the advice it gives to customers.
- An investment and partnership with MX Technologies, an analytics firm based in Utah. USAA uses tools from MX to scour large amounts of data for insights it uses to enhance the customer experience.
Snapsheet speeds up claims appraisal with mobile tech
After an automobile accident, insurance customers often need to have their vehicle appraised. Whether that means taking it in to a body shop or making an appointment with an appraiser, the process can be a time-consuming hassle for the customer.
Snapsheet, an insurtech firm headquartered in Chicago, speeds up the process with mobile technology. The customer use their phone to take pictures of their car after an accident. Snapsheet’s team of estimators examine the images to create an estimate. Some estimators approach 100 percent accuracy, and the company claims the average estimate is produced in less than three hours after it receives photos.
Since its founding in 2010, Snapsheet has raised over $40 million from investors, including $12 million in a funding round that closed in June 2017. Snapsheet has partnered with 45 different auto insurers to provide white label service.
Hippo makes home insurance easier
Hippo Insurance opened for business this spring in its home state of California. Hippo has a formidable collection of housing data it consults to assess the state of a customer’s home automatically. Long questionnaires are replaced with big data and analytics, allowing customers to buy home insurance in less than one minute. The company can also use its cache of data to better price risk. It claims to offer home insurance for 25 percent less than industry standards.
These examples illustrate the variety of approaches insurers are pursuing to refine existing touchpoints. But there is another way to innovate in this space: use digital tools to create entirely new touchpoints. Come back next week for a look at what proactive insurers are doing to reach the customer in new ways.
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