The insurance distribution ecosystem is undergoing a rapid transformation with new, digitally savvy entrants using multi-industry partnerships. Customers are enjoying the digital access, the personalization, and the low-cost offers, resulting in a shake-up of the traditional models.

Customer-centricity is a must in the new insurance distribution ecosystem

New players are using their platform models to disrupt existing markets. The US online broker insureon, which serves more than 800 industries, can give customers a personalized quote in 15 minutes—a process that can take a traditional commercial broker more than a week.

Moving beyond placement, insureon has moved up the value chain and is beginning to design and develop products that its panel of carriers is underwriting, and which allow it to provide specialized customer services to its market.

Many other new entrants into the insurance distribution ecosystem are using customer-centric features as their point of differentiation:

  • Chinese tech giant Alibaba’s eBaoCloud, the world’s first internet insurance cloud platform, lets insurers “check in like at a hotel” and access suites of standardized internet insurance capabilities without needing to deploy their own
  • Zhong An, an online-only insurer, also part owned by Alibaba, offers more than 200 insurance products and reached 369 million customers in three years.
  • The Zebra, an online auto insurance comparison company based in Austin, Texas, allows drivers to compare side-by-side customized quotes from insurance companies across all 50 US states.

The insurance industry is starting to rise to the challenge of these new entrants. Accenture research shows that 59 percent of carriers are prioritizing a more customer-centric distribution model.

Customer-centricity is a must in the new insurance distribution ecosystem_Accenture INS (Figure 2)

Forty-eight percent have already built a customer-centric hub that leverages data and analytics for an improved service experience (or plan to do so in the near future), the research shows.

Customer-centricity is a must in the new insurance distribution ecosystem_Accenture INS (Figure 3)

So, how can established carriers create customer experiences that are at least as good as those the new entrants are offering—ideally, better? The experience of the leaders suggests that insurers need to develop more customer-centric business and operating models, execute multiple models simultaneously for both the core and the digital businesses, and integrate the lessons learned about customer-centricity from new partners, broadly, across the enterprise.

By beginning now to reshape products and services, expand distribution channels and re-imagine the way you engage with customers—all within the context of non-traditional partnerships—carriers can maximize their chances of becoming a leader in the new, and increasingly collaborative insurance distribution ecosystem.

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