For the last four weeks we’ve been looking at how innovative P&C insurers around the world are using digitalization to improve processes and connect more closely with consumers and customers. This week we will begin a discussion on how insurers in the life & health sector are similarly adapting.

Accenture’s Quarterly Digital L&H Innovation Tracker highlights 20 showcases of deployment of digital innovation at life and health insurance providers across the globe. Leading cases for digital innovation show up across mature and emerging markets, across products, and embracing most parts of L&H insurers’ core market operations, including sales channels, underwriting, and servicing.

In spite of the diversity by market, product and provider, the study finds these patterns:

  • L&H providers continue launching new mobile solutions to reach and service both customers and prospects, especially to enhance their health insurance products and services through mobile.
  • Insurers are investing significantly in various digital distribution platforms targeting specific customer segments, with an emphasis on ease of purchase and affordability.
  • As seen on the P&C side, major providers are propagating open innovation across their business segments by setting up dedicated units as part of their digital transformation plans to encourage innovative ideas from employees and partners.
  • Healthcare start-ups are facilitating comparison of health insurance options for consumers by integrating health care exchanges and benefits platforms.

The study breaks these innovation trends into six categories: service model, channel, product, process, people/roles, and communications/brand.

Innovations in the life and health insurance sector, by service model, channel, product, process, or brand
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Let’s begin our analysis with some specific examples of what L&H insurers are doing in the areas of product and channel.

On the product side:

  • Humana in the U.S. has teamed up with Apple to develop the HealthKit service, which brings together wellness data from different wearable devices and apps so consumers can track and share daily their steps walked, calories burned, heart rate readings, and more. Humana monitors the data to help identify the cost of insurance coverage—the first to use real-time tracking information for its business model.
  • The U.K.’s Aviva took a similar approach in its partnership with app vendor Babylon with a “doctor in your pocket” mobile app so customers can access physicians through video consultants and order prescriptions on their smartphones or tablets.
  • Mexican insurer Grupo Nacional Provincial (GNP) and OXXO, a chain of convenience stores with more than 12,000 locations, partnered to offer four new micro-insurance products: breast and cervical cancer, first heart attack, accident death, and accident insurance. Premiums, which are available in pre-paid cards through OXXO outlets, are US$11 for up to $3,700 in coverage.

L&H insurers are also getting creative with distribution channels:

  • Beagle Street, the U.K. BGL Group’s online life insurance provider, has gone live with a web chat solution to help simplify its online buying process for customers, with the goal of improving conversation rates.
  • Medicare Life Insurance, a company in the Sumitomo Life group and the first major online-only life insurer in Japan, has launched a new internet-dedicated product priced 30 to 50 percent lower than the equivalent of its parent company. This is an aggressive move to grow its sales.
  • MetLife in China, through Sino US MetLife Insurance Co. Ltd., has launched a new digital platform targeting the needs of its expanding middle class for easy-to-purchase life insurance and protection products.

This transformation to a customer-driven L&H insurance experience is especially important for global insurers that want to reach the huge previously uninsured or underinsured population in developing regions—a demographic that truly represents the future of insurance.

Next week I will take a closer look at how L&H insurers are applying digitalization to processes and service models.

Accenture 2013 Consumer-Driven Innovation Survey: Playing to Win

The Customer-centric Insurer in the Digital Era

Double the Profits: How High-performance Insurers can Create Business Value from Digital Transformation

Insurance Telematics: A Game-changing Opportunity for the Industry

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