A new report from Swiss Re highlights how digital technology is changing the way insurance products are distributed.

Swiss Re has just published its second Sigma report for 2014. Entitled Digital distribution in insurance: A quiet revolution, it offers a great perspective on what we all know is happening. It’s also comforting to see that what Accenture has been saying is confirmed by one of the most respected reinsurers—and, indeed, that it cites several of our research pieces. I’m sure you’ll find it an interesting read.

I think most of us would concur with Swiss Re’s basic conclusion: that the ongoing march of technology is ineluctably changing the traditional insurance distribution model. While it’s true that current e-commerce sales remain low, and that the traditional agent and broker channels remain pivotal, this shouldn’t blind us to the long-term impact of the new technologies on the way we do business.

Read the report.
Read the report.

We can already see it in the way in which companies are increasingly using a mixture of direct and indirect channels to serve customers; the old either/ or paradigm (own sales force or use of brokers, for example) is mutating under pressure from customers to access insurance how they like, when they like. The result: omni-channel distribution. Read the Accenture Consumer-Driven Innovation Survey to learn more about how customers are influencing insurance, and use our online tool to customize the data.

The shift towards omni-channel distribution is surging on as mobile devices establish themselves as the primary communications tool in both business and private life. Similarly, telematics is changing fundamentally the context within which we interact with customers. Read our point of view on insurance telematics.

All of this is generating huge amounts of real-time data that can be used to target customers more effectively and also to hone underwriting—so ultimately improving profitability. (For more, read my blog “Digital insurance: It’s all about understanding the new customer context” or download Achieving payback in insurance analytics.

In many ways, one could argue that technology is no longer just the vehicle of innovation, but also its catalyst. Are you reading the signs correctly?

Read more about the influence of current technology trends on insurance over the medium term, Six trends that will have a disruptive effect on insurers.

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