Last week we announced the winners of the Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2021. Every year I’m excited to see the submissions come in. This year we received 460 entries from 289 organizations across 55 countries. That’s an enormous number of innovations and especially impressive for a period when the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted so many businesses globally. I’d like to offer my congratulations to the winners in our seven categories, particularly Assicurazioni Generali of Italy, who won the Global Innovator 2021 award.

Here are three of the winning innovations that I think give us a glimpse into the future of insurance distribution, sales and service.

Discovery won the Core Insurance Transformation category for its AI Quote innovation

Using Discovery Life’s AI Quote, brokers and clients can upload a PDF or pictures of competitor insurance and investment documents, via phone or computer, and receive an equivalent Discovery quote in seconds. In fact, the entire journey takes less than two minutes, and when it’s completed the customer receives a call from a sales agent to discuss the specifics of the quote and close the sale.

While many carriers focus on third-party data and APIs to pre-fill quotes and applications, Discovery takes a different approach. It uses text recognition on a competitor’s policy documentation to make the quoting process a low-effort experience. This benefits the consumer and the broker, of course. But what’s in it for Discovery? To use a baseball analogy, because of the ease of its quoting process, Discovery earns more “at-bats” and thus more opportunities to win the business.

Chubb Studio won bronze in the Connected Insurance & Ecosystems category for its plug and play approach

Chubb Studio provides digital insurance solutions that enable Chubb clients, partners and banks to bring value to their own customers. For instance, it’s brought life insurance to underinsured populations via their phones, enabled carriers to offer device insurance via SMS, brought custom hospital cash products to fill the specific insurance gap for a partner’s valued customers, and much more.

This is an excellent example of what I called the “plug and play insurer” in 2017. As I said then, this model is built on partnerships. Insurers can team up with complementary firms to offer just the right product at just the right time to a prospective customer. That might mean partnering with an auto manufacturer or home dealer to make an offer after a major purchase or teaming up with an internet retail giant.

In this case, Chubb has developed a platform that enables its partners in retail, e-commerce, banking, fintech, airline, telecommunications and other industries to add digital insurance options to their own product and service offerings. Its “insurance in a box” solution provides a significant speed-to-market advantage for its partners with a secure and scalable platform and multiple APIs to simplify the process, while enabling Chubb to provide underwriting and claims services.

Offerings like Chubb Studio mean that insurance solutions that meet niche customer needs can be quickly brought to market through creative partnerships. For example, Chubb Studio is helping DBS swiftly respond to the Dengue Fever outbreak in Singapore with a custom insurance product that provides financial protection for DBS customers.

AXA Partners won silver in the Customer Experience category for its Max virtual agent

When AXA customers experience a car breakdown or accident, recovering their mobility is key. Max, the company’s virtual agent, assists by ensuring a tow truck arrives, providing them a replacement car, answering any questions they may have and booking a taxi so they can go to a rental agency or the garage where their car is being repaired.

Many carriers are still in their infancy with conversational AI investments or have struggled to achieve a significant ROI. AXA Partners’ submission caught my attention due to the results achieved to date: 77% of the conversations Max engages in are handled all by himself and he consistently performs with an NPS over 70.

So how is AXA achieving these results? At least four things are making a difference:

  • Multi-channel access points. Max operates across multiple channels, using the channel each customer prefers: SMS, WhatsApp and, soon, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Instagram or even the good old phone.
  • Truly conversational. Max is very different from a chatbot that understands mainly yes/no answers. He knows when to search for an answer in the knowledge database, when to book a taxi, when to reserve a rental car, when to ask for clarity and when to direct customers to a human agent.
  • Continuous adaptation and improvement. Max is “trained” to continuously adapt to unexpected customers interactions, including people changing their minds and not knowing where they are or expressing the same needs but in different ways.
  • Multi-language. Max can hold conversations with customers fluently in both languages used in Belgium: French and Dutch.

To find out more about all the award-winning innovations, visit our site or follow the conversation on Twitter at #InsAwards21.


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