The insurance industry, the Economist wrote this spring, is a “relatively placid backwater” in the world of finance. The fundamental product of insurance has few substitutes, leading to an easy existence for insurers and “a complacent refusal to modernize,” according to the British publication. Startups like Lemonade, Friendsurance, and Quilt are looking to capitalize on such complacency.

Yet the industry has not been entirely idle in the face of new tools and new competitors. Most traditional insurers now have dedicated innovation labs where new ideas and technologies are tested for potential. An increasing number are forming partnerships with insurtech firms or investing in them.

Traditional insurers express a growing awareness of the need to embrace digital change. The latest Accenture Tech Vision for Insurance report surveyed 563 global insurance leaders for their views on the future of the industry.

75% agree that digital ecosystems are having a noticeable or transformative effect on the insurance sector.

73% say that their organization is entering new digital industries that have yet to be defined.

Customer appetite for innovative service delivery also appears to be rising. The success of firms like Lyft and Airbnb suggest that customers are willing to trust well made, purely digital platforms for service sourcing. Accenture’s most recent Global Distribution & Marketing Consumer Study canvassed nearly 33,000 insurance consumers in 18 markets to find out, among other things, what they look for in an insurance provider.

The survey found that consumers are increasingly open to buying insurance from non-traditional providers.

  • 60 percent would consider buying insurance from a bank, up from 43 percent in the 2013 survey.
  • 29 percent would consider buying insurance from a company like Google or Facebook, up from 23 percent in 2013.
  • 38 percent would consider buying insurance from a home service provider, up from 20 percent in 2013.
  • 30 percent would consider buying insurance from a retailer or supermarket, up from 14 percent in 2013.

These last two figures are especially striking. In three short years, roughly twice as many consumers became open to buying insurance from a home service provider or a retailer.

Customer taste and the insurance industry’s appetite for innovation both point to a more disruptive future for insurers. If this is true, consumer touchpoints could be one of the most important areas of innovation.

The experience of digital leaders and common sense both suggest that rethinking customer touch points could have substantial upside for insurers. Companies like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon have all built global empires out of rethinking customer touchpoints in one way or another.

There are two primary ways for insurers to innovate in the touchpoint space: they can seek to improve existing touchpoints or create new ones. Come back next week for a look at powerful examples of what insurers are doing to make existing touchpoints more enjoyable and efficient for consumers. In the meantime, more Accenture research into the digital future of the insurance industry can be found here.

From The Editor’s Desk is an ongoing series of posts driven by your feedback. Please let us know what you are interested in us covering next by contacting us here.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *