In previous blogs we’ve looked at how combinatorial technologies are creating disruption and opportunity. The challenge for carriers is that the change does not stop with tools. New entrants don’t embrace just new technology. They also embrace collaboration and sharing with partners to create new capabilities. Threats to the industry don’t come only from new entrants but also from the combinatorial ecosystems they can create.

Metromile and Coverhound are two of the new disruptive entrants into insurance. As of November 14, Coverhound will offer Metromile options through its online platform. Neither company was forced to do this, but both recognized that this partnership created better options for their customers. Coverhound, which has a cadre of strong carriers, is now able to offer its customers the alternative pay-per-use policies of Metromile, making Covermile a stronger shopping site. For Metromile, which also has a direct channel, the deal provides another distribution source for customers who want to shop comparatively.

Carriers have long thought that they needed to build, buy, or own capabilities for their customers. Disruptors think differently. They start with the customer and look to build an ecosystem of customer-centric services to delight them. To provide those services, the first preference of disruptors is to partner. They only develop their own capabilities when there isn’t another good option.

Look at your holiday wish list. How many of you want a new digital distribution channel, digital services for customers, new data or analytic capabilities, and so on? Now, how many of you have thought to partner first to get those capabilities? This is the power of the sharing economy.

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