This blog is my debut on the Accenture Insurance blog pages and I hope it will be a chance to offer a UK perspective on some of the issues that insurers are thinking about!
I’ve been reflecting on the findings from Accenture’s 2013 Digital Insurance Survey for the Europe, Latin America and Africa region. It explored the digital plans of C-level insurance executives across most of the major European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the Nordic region, Spain, Switzerland and, of course, the United Kingdom). It also covered Brazil, Colombia and South Africa to provide some extra-European comparative data.
The full report on the research and a series of blogs by my colleague, Jean-François Gasc, do an excellent job of exploring some of the most important general conclusions. But over the course of last several weeks I’ve been thinking about what the results tell us about insurance in the United Kingdom specifically, and that’s what I want to explore in this series of blogs.
From a UK perspective, perhaps the overwhelming impression I get from the results is, comparatively (and perhaps surprisingly), how far advanced we are in the digital journey. In some of the key areas, the United Kingdom leads in Europe, often along with the Nordic countries. For me, some of the interesting country-specific results are:
- Just how digital our customers and channels are. For example, the main factors affecting distribution over the coming three years include increasing interactions between physical and digital channels for sales and advice, coupled with increased customer usage of online channel and access points and mobile technology. It’s particularly noteworthy how much of a role social media is starting to play in British insurance—71 percent see it as a main factor, compared to 38 percent in the Nordics.
- It seems that as customers use digital channels more their expectations rise, a trend that seems to be driven by other industries. In other words, consumers who shop or make travel plans online come to expect the same type of service from all their service providers, including insurers.
- At the same time, the survey confirms what we probably feel, that people in the United Kingdom are increasingly price-sensitive.
- Brokers continue to play an important role in British insurance—respondents put it at 47 percent and expect it to decline only slightly over the next three years (to 44 percent). Only Germany has higher figures. This is probably a testimony to how brokers are adapting to the multi-channel world and the value that customers still place on the value they add.
All of this might lead one to suppose that UK insurers are well placed to take advantage of the digital revolution that continues to unfold. But I’m not so sure, as I will argue in my next post.