When it comes to digital innovation, most insurers are looking outwards from their own companies, instead of taking an outside-in or customer-oriented perspective.  When Accenture surveyed 141 insurers in 21 countries, more than half (59 percent) of respondents said they expect their industry peers to acquire digital insurance start-ups over the next three years.  Telematics companies, insurance price comparison websites and analytics firms are the other most-cited acquisition targets, mentioned by 47 percent, 43 percent and 38 percent of the executives surveyed, respectively.

Insurers have already started down the acquisition path; 43 percent of those surveyed have already acquired start-ups or are planning to do so in the near future to better capture digital opportunities.

However, the survey also reveals that 60 percent of insurers view their investments in digital as “exploratory”.  One-fifth (21 percent) of insurers don’t have a digital strategy in place, and one-third (32 percent) have implemented a digital strategy that is limited to sales and distribution or to customer interaction processes only. Fewer than half (47 percent) of respondents have a digital strategy in place that covers the entire value chain – from product creation to claims management, including sales and distribution, underwriting and customer relationship management.

For insurers, digitizing existing channels may enhance efficiency but it won’t create a new platform for sustainable growth.  To do that, they need to fundamentally change their business models. That means becoming a digital business, with a real focus on the customer and the ability to provide solutions to customer problems, not just products.

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