Bolder Thinking Blog

2020 Insurance Trends: How’d we do?

November 2nd, 2020 | Lizzie Egan

Each year, we develop annual industry trends based on brand observations, competitive marketing and consumer data. As we prepare for the launch of our 2021 Insurance Trends, let’s take a look at Comperemedia’s 2020 Insurance Marketing Trends, and see where we got it right—or not. This year, the impact of COVID-19 is undeniable. It has accelerated the digital transformation of the entire industry, altering what we thought was possible when first identifying our 2020 Trends.

Trend #1 Claiming Digital Distinction 

The focus in 2020 will be on the claims experience, and how insurers are leveraging in-house and third-party tech and data providers to improve the claims cycle.

How’d we do? Correct, but COVID-19 changed the landscape.

Several insurers made moves to sharpen their claims experience. Zurich partnered with Carpe Data to fight fraud, Hippo selected One Inc. to expand digital claims payments, and Aviva tapped CoreLogic to streamline workflow. Plymouth Rock leveraged Hi Marley to transition touchpoints from phone calls to texting. COVID-19 revealed some unforeseen benefits of digital claims, as the industry rapidly shifted to support social distancing. Many insurers leveraged video conferencing and USAA introduced No Contact Car Care. Travelers seized the opportunity to promote its virtual inspections capability with Hover, which allows customers to submit photos of their home’s exterior to generate 3D measurements of damage.

What’s next? According to Mintel data on property and casualty insurance, from March, just 35% of consumers have downloaded their P&C insurance provider’s mobile app, but because of social distancing, adoption might finally have its big break. Consumers need to be shown why they need the app, and contactless features, like mobile claims, could do just that. Digital solutions are going to need a human touch, however, especially for claims which can carry significant stress for customers. Expect insurers to introduce streamlined solutions, while reassuring customers that they remain backed by helpful agents and experts. 

Trend #2: Trust Circle

Carriers across every insurance line will cut through jargon and confusion during the purchase decision, eliminate inefficient processes to position agents as advisors to complex issues, and leverage data and technology to personalize coverage and services to provide unique value to every customer.

How’d we do? 2020 was the tip of the iceberg.

The sheer importance of consumer trust took shape in 2020. JD Power revealed a correlation between trust and overall satisfaction in auto insurance. Mutual of Omaha stated “honesty” was at the center of its brand, while TruStage switched up its value proposition to emphasize “simplicity.”  Insurtechs Root and Lemonade continued to boldly challenge the industry: Root announced its intention to eliminate credit score from its pricing model and Lemonade introduced pet insurance as “a simple policy you can actually understand.” 

Trust took on a new form in 2020, however, as the year’s challenges tested the will of people everywhere. Corporations quickly stepped in to offer support during “unprecedented times.” Health insurers covered COVID-19 testing, expanded telehealth, and voiced the importance of mental health. Insurers across industries offered financial relief, gave back to aching communities, and took a stand in the fight for racial equity. 

What’s next? Insurance companies must approach trust as a long-term commitment. The most successful companies will walk the walk with streamlined claims experiences, easy-to-understand policies, as well as ongoing messaging about community giveback and social justice initiatives. Expect “simplicity” to dominate acquisition marketing and new campaigns about how insurers helped revitalize communities post COVID-19. Behind the scenes, some insurers will expand research into social determinants of health and pricing disparities to build a more equitable industry. 

Trend #3: The Great Data Trade

Protective technology will be at the forefront of policy value-adds, which will be product line agnostic. Heart rate sensors, water leak detectors, and telematics-based underwriting will collectively drive safer outcomes for consumers, and fewer claims for insurers.

How’d we do? Nailed it.

Smart technology and copious data continues to spur industry innovation and enrich the customer experience. Nationwide partnered with Notion to launch a smart home monitoring system, complete with a homeowners insurance discount and John Hancock expanded Vitality by integrating with Amazon’s wearable Halo. Flexible underwriting took on new forms, such as micro-duration or on-demand policies, as long-term insurance commitments start to lack appeal.

As COVID-19 impacted mileage and caused many families to feel a financial squeeze, P&C insurers put telematics front and center. State Farm and Allstate rolled out new campaigns, promising safe driving and discounts as benefits of their programs. Several carriers also announced partnerships with automakers to deliver the benefits of their usage-based insurance (UBI) programs without the hassle of downloading a separate app.

What’s next? Telematics was already gaining traction, but COVID-19 will accelerate adoption, especially with the promise of savings, which insurers will underscore in new campaigns. Behind the scenes, expect insurers to continue integrating with automakers, eventually phasing out the need for an app or dongle altogether.

Advanced wearable technology will capture the attention of life and health insurers, especially following the announcement of new wellness and fitness updates to the Apple Watch. Insurers will continue to voice the prevention benefits of wearables, but the importance of mental health will take on new meaning after a uniquely stressful year.

Trend #4: Spinoff season

We will see an emphasis on digital spinoff brands with the backing of traditional, tenured insurance companies as they look to placate the younger, tech-centric consumer.

How’d we do? The jury is still out.

Spinoff brands act as a means for legacy companies to offer unique value propositions, but they are still operating in the background, suggesting that insurers will ultimately rely on their long-standing brand names. Some brands did announce new partnerships or capabilities, but marketing remains scant. Co-operators brand Duuo announced gig insurance, Haven Life introduced new Term products, and Travelers invested in the South African startup Pineapple to improve image recognition for its Traverse products. Spinoff brands have taken shape as innovation hubs rather than just a new distribution model.

What’s next? Insurers will incorporate learnings from spinoff brands into their overall strategy, but only the strongest will remain consumer-facing. According to Mintel research on property and casualty insurance, more than 60% of consumers have not used nor would be interested in using a startup or newer company for their insurance needs. Insurance companies with a long history have the advantage with the current consumer, so spinoff brands will only offer short-term novelty. What will stand the test of time, however, will be their innovative products and pricing.

Lizzie Egan

Lizzie Egan

Lizzie Egan is a Senior Analyst at Comperemedia, with a focus on the insurance industry.