Most insurance customers see advantages in getting advice from a clear-thinking, always-on-call robo-advisor. Still, when they want a human, they want a human. To provide both, you need a ‘phygital’ strategy.

Will consumers allow a robot to guide them to which insurance coverage to buy?

For many, the answer is “yes.” In fact, almost three-quarters of insurance customers report they are open to robo-advice for their insurance purchases, just over three-quarters for their investment-asset allocation and more than two-thirds for retirement planning. This willingness to accept computer-generated advice does not extend to every type of insurance, investment or retirement purchase. For more complex transactions and for complaint-handling, two-thirds expect first-class human interaction.

Which of these trends is most likely to disrupt the insurance industry in the coming decade? (To vote, please click on your first choice)

Peer-to-peer insurance
Internet of Things
Alternative insurers
Automated advice


These trends are highlighted in a new report about Accenture’s survey of 32,715 consumers across the U.S., Canada and 16 other markets, which provides valuable intelligence into how consumers want to interact with insurance and other financial services. It also provides useful insights on where advances in intelligent automation and artificial intelligence can add value beyond simply risk indemnification.

Consumers are clear that they want personalization, but the services of brokers and in-house human advisors are costly for insurance organizations to provide. Employing robo-advice offers a welcome opportunity for insurers to harness machine learning and cognitive computing to deliver advice economically and with a greater degree of personalization then before, Accenture’s research indicates. Savvy insurers can increase their reach by providing consumers with fast and convenient access to information they seek.

The voice of the customer: identifying disruptive opportunities in insurance distributionConsumers who are willing to work with an insurance robo-advisor do expect several benefits from the experience: 39% believe automated advice will be faster and more convenient, 31% expect it to cost less and 26% think it will be more impartial.

As I noted earlier, consumers may be open to computer-generated advice for certain things, but most still want the option to work directly with humans when they deem it necessary. Successful insurers will employ a “phygital” strategy, which integrates physical and digital capabilities seamlessly to meet the customer’s preferences.

By the way, consumer acceptance of robo-advice is not limited to the middle market. In fact, higher-income respondents are most likely to seek such advice for insurance and retirement planning.

Over the next three weeks, I’ll be reporting on some of the other interesting—and actionable—customer trends our consumer research uncovered.

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