Implementing change in the insurance distribution model

Last time, I talked about the need for change – why Irish insurers urgently need a new distribution approach and what elements of that approach might look like. To kickstart thinking around this issue, we identified five new distribution models. By adopting a blend of these models, depending on each firm’s goals, insurers will secure their position in a marketplace that’s transforming faster than ever.

So, is there a commercial basis for rolling out a ‘cutting edge’ distribution model in Ireland? The answer’s a resounding ‘yes’. For one thing, it’s a relatively self-contained market where investments can be kept within budget.

Firms can get started by identifying opportunities for change that won’t require heavy spend. Virtual insurance advisers are a case in point. But don’t try to boil the ocean. Review the 15 most common customer queries your call-centres receive and think about how these can be dealt with using AI. Keep it focused, in other words

Another priority, identify companies to partner with. Think about where the firm could fit into a broader ecosystem, research the opportunities and be realistic about the value these could generate. Going through that process will help the firm to develop the internal capabilities it will need to become an ecosystem orchestrator.

It will also be a great source of insights about developments outside the mainstream insurance industry (providing introductions to InsurTech players that might have been under the radar, for example).

Accenture can play matchmaker: there’s a healthy pipeline of InsurTech startups passing through our London-based incubator programme. And there’s an abundance of opportunity closer to home. Blink Innovation, for example, established in Cork in 2016, and sold on to CPP Group for €1m this April. Hublio, WeSavvy and Ucompare…the list of new Irish digital insurers gets longer all the time.

Another reason for launching change initiatives in Ireland? It’s a perfect test-bed for wider roll-outs in Europe and/or the US. It’s a relatively small market, in terms of the number of potential customers. But Ireland’s big enough to be a perfect sample set: international insurers are based here, along with national insurers and reinsurers and there’s local access to great tech talent. What’s more, the recently signed agreement between the US and Europe on insurance regulation should help insurers move new ideas across the Atlantic.

We’ve identified five key principles to help insurers bring new distribution models to life. Outlined below, you can read them in greater depth here.

 

  • develop a well-articulated agenda for current and future operations, incorporating a disruptive growth strategy
  • offer living services that adapt in real time to the changing customer context
  • acquire the ability to accelerate and scale outcome-focused and dynamic execution
  • design a partnership strategy with the ability to connect into broader ecosystems to multiply desired impacts
  • focus on people traits, shift culture, and activate (and measure) change.

It’s crunch time. Irish insurers that are unable or unwilling to adapt will quickly lose out to competitors from within and outside their industry. A well thought out investment strategy, supporting core and new initiatives, is the essential opening move.

Next time, I’ll take a look at the factors driving change, as well as the areas where change-aware insurers are already investing.

Thanks for reading.

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