Takeaways from the Conference Floor: At Insurtech Insights Europe

As new technologies fill the multiple floors of this year’s stellar Insurtech Insights Conference, Rory asks, is something being lost in translation?

It is the year of the ecosystem insurer…again!

Walking the show floor for a second year, it’s clear the insurance industry is going through a protracted tipping point. I’m minded of the mobile internet’s drawn-out rise during the Naughties. Every year was heralded as THE YEAR. That is until it finally happened, of course! 

We are seeing something similar in insurance. The same thematics arise each year: Embedded, Risk Removing, Adaptive, Human-Centric, Carbon Neutral, and Ecosystem-Based. These elements, individually and together, represent huge “new value” potential for insurers, and all of them, to one degree or another, are powered or supported by technology & data. 

As I talk to vendors and witness the incredible achievements of the Ambitious Insurer Award nominees, the critical question is, with all this amazing potential, why is it not yet the norm? The consumer is ready, so why is it taking the sector so long to catch up?

I can’t help thinking that something is getting lost in translation. The issue when speaking to insurers is, despite the many exciting solutions on offer, it’s easy to get lost in the myriad buzzword-shrouded solutions when engaging with the technology sector. 

In our drive for innovation and our passion for ‘the technology’, we sometimes forget the fundamentals of the businesses we seek to help. And perhaps more importantly, the problems they want to solve.

When you strip back the purpose of an insurer today, it’s clear it hasn’t changed much since the industry was established, nor does it need to. On the one hand, you have a sector that builds resiliency and opportunity for everyone. On the other, the complexity of balancing pooled premiums with risk and investment portfolios, improving ratios and remaining resilient to macro-changes is still the fundamental focus of the boardroom. 

It is not a technology issue. The issue is creating the right foundation for transformation to happen, and that comes down to asking the right questions upfront. 

So, how do insurers ask the right questions of our industry so we can start getting clear on the new value potential and unlocking it in the face of these value chain businesses that are all too often rooted in constraining and complex legacy-based technologies?

All things considered, I believe these questions are very simple. When thinking about the people insurers protect, we should be asking the following:

  • How do we make it easy for people to buy?
  • How do we make it easy for people to choose?
  • How do we make it easy for people to buy more?
  • How do we make it easy for people to renew?
  • How do we make it easy for people to claim?
  • How do we make it easy for people to reduce or remove risk?

Then, once we understand the experience we want to create for the consumer, we must then turn our attention to the people on the front line who provide these critical services. We must ask how we do the above whilst making it easier for our people to:

  • Do their job.
  • Help our customers fulfil their needs
  • Be more integrated into the development of our ever-changing business.
  • Develop their careers
  • Work from the most effective locations for them and us
  • See and utilize deep human insight

Asking the right questions will drive the future of insurance in the right direction. Human-centric transformation is critical to creating high-growth insurance businesses that will, in turn, continue to play their key role in the progression of people, businesses and society.

Helping customers buy in today’s digital world does mean maximizing the knowledge of a customer and the ability to act on it anywhere it is required. This does relate to the ecosystem driver model Lisa Wardlaw, and the panel have been exploring during the brilliant Cutting Through the Hype: Beyond an Ecosystem session. 

This sets the fundamental need to drive through both a technology and business-model-driven transformation simultaneously – often described as changing the engines in-flight. You only had to hear the esure Group CEO David McMillan talking about their journey to “Fix insurance for good,” as one of many great examples of this in action.

The Ambitious Insurer awards highlighted 19 incredible stories of customer experience excellence, innovation, venturing and new business models shaping how the insurers tackled the opportunities they sought and eventually grappled them to success. 

They were lean start-up stories, at scale and successful. Allianz Re was a much-deserved winner for their pioneering work providing weather insurance for cocoa farmers on the Ivory Coast. And many said afterwards that this heart-warming story really spoke to what insurance is all about. It was an absolute pleasure to meet, host and introduce these great entries over the course of today – with a special thanks to the judge’s panel, who must have struggled with an incredibly tough choice.

The excitement of those who have been in entrepreneurship for some time, like Margeaux Giles, and Ed Halssey, or sector technology pioneers like Daren Rudd of CGI or transformation delivery partners and leaders like Chris Payne of EY and others. Their desire to see the whole market take a giant leap forward is an incredible testament to the people we have all around us in insurance. 

In summary, this was a fantastic event full of networking, insight sharing and collaboration. Showing the best of this wonderful industry and highlighting what a future it has. 

Going through the tipping point will see our sectors entwined and driving innovation in partnership across industries like never before. 

Everyone wins in this next step, and we can’t wait for more buzzwords in future events – but I for one will be sticking to my questions in an attempt to make more sense of it all. And I recommend you do the same.

Is this the year for insurance transformation? The jury is still out, but it’s clear at Insurtech Insight that we are getting there!

Rory Yates has more than 24 years of business leadership experience spanning client, agency, consultancy, start-up, and private equity roles. As EIS’ SVP of Corporate Strategy, Rory helps insurers achieve their transformation goals and evolve toward ecosystem-based futures via insurance core systems transformation, including truly personalised engagement, taking innovation from concept to market quickly, and growing efficiently.

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