Bolder Thinking Blog

What happens in Vegas, transforms the insurance industry

November 1st, 2019 | Tara Clemens

The 2019 InsureTech Connect Conference, otherwise known as “the world’s largest gathering of insurance leaders and innovators,” delivered a striking number of product announcements and insights from leaders within and outside of the insurance industry. The distinctive intersection between technology and insurance produced an unmistakable air of excitement and opportunity throughout the three day conference. ITC2019 was a chance to network with the industry’s most tenured and innovative minds and absorb insights from the 265 speakers.

Let’s dive into key insights our Comperemedia insurance team left with.

Product and Service Announcements

Salesforce presented its latest insurance capabilities for the Financial Services Cloud. A live, on-stage product demonstration revealed how AI-powered insights and a 360-degree view of policyholders would allow insurance agents to engage with customers in a more meaningful, hassle-free way. During the demo, attendees observed the claim process from an agent’s point of view. What we learned is that immediately after a claim, the agent receives a push notification to their phone and subsequently access a 360-degree view of that customer via the cloud platform, including key life events, policies and claims information. After reviewing the wide net of information stored in Salesforce Financial Services Cloud, the agent can use the stored information to give the insured a call, and do so with a holistic knowledge about the policyholder. From a client-growth perspective, agents can even calculate likelihood to purchase multi-line and seamlessly schedule new meetings from there.

State Farm, after choosing Salesforce as its full system of engagement to see customers in one place, will continue to partner and help develop the service’s insurance solution.

USAA and Google Cloud had another cloud-based announcement, albeit a different use case. The same leading insurer that was a pioneer in the use of drones and aerial imagery to assess property damage in hard-to-access areas, is now an early pioneer in using machine learning to speed up the auto claims process by obtaining near-real-time damage estimates from digital images.

This partnership will digitize and streamline the claims process by moving elements to the cloud. In doing so, an appraiser will take photos of the car and upload them to Google Cloud where, by applying machine learning, they can identify the damage in real-time and send that data to USAA. USAA leverages Mitchell Estimating software, which searches labor databases, applies the information to their estimate and returns that estimate directly to USAA. Appraisers will review the estimate and make adjustments as needed. The new, cloud-based process will allow for faster and more cost-efficient estimates.

“This technology now gives claims teams the opportunity to focus more deeply on connecting and providing guidance to our members, during what can often be a trying time,” said Ramon Lopez, USAA VP Innovation. This notion of bolstering backend technology to empower agents was a key theme throughout ITC panel discussions.

Key Theme: Becoming Customer-Centric

If you aren’t talking customer-centricity, you’re behind the curve.

During the conference, industry leaders frequently advertised their company’s improved approach of an “outside-in” strategy. The premise of the “outside-in” strategy builds on this idea that providing customer value is the key to success, as opposed to the “inside-out” strategy, which is the more traditional way in which companies develop a product or service and then look to find ways to create a need for it.

So how are companies finding ways to put the customer first?

“From premium collectors to eternal protectors.”

ITC2019 revealed a strong industry-wide shift from claims coverage to risk protection, and many of the most forward looking insights were derived from an “Insurance 2030” panel discussion comprised of executives hailing from Strategy Meets Action, Hippo Insurance, Genpact and Insurance Solutions Group. The conversation quickly honed in on the claims experience, and how by providing holistic protection to policyholders’ properties, the claims experience (or lack thereof) can be drastically improved. Innovative and consistent advances in connected home protective technology are what are allowing companies like Hippo to envision what they feel is the future of personal lines insurance. Hippo’s Chief Innovation Officer Richard McCathron summed it up nicely stating, “The best claims experience is avoiding the claim.”

Looking ahead, protective technology in the homeowners space will eventually deliver the ability to send proactive communications when a claim might happen, as opposed to “it did happen.” Take for example, a circumstance where a customer lives in an area that is at risk of a wildfire. The insurer can proactively reach out before a claim happens, and inform the customer of the impending risk, while offering help finding hotels, dog sitters and information on claims service to prepare ahead of time.

Backend advances allow for renewed frontend focus.

Another valuable panel discussion between executives from Vertafore, ACORD, LeO and Aquiline Capital Partners concentrated on agent enablement. Ultimately these panel leaders see agents of the future as a business partners to carriers, as opposed to customers. With backend efficiencies freeing up more of an agent’s time, the agent will be focused on higher-value added tasks like mitigating risk. And despite direct-to-consumer capabilities shining in lower premium landscapes, these industry experts anticipate the future of insurance to always require a broker, especially for a growing risk climate.

It was energizing to see how well-attended and received this panel discussion around agent enablement was at an insurance tech conference. On the Comperemedia team, we view the agent of the future as a key component of the optimal customer experience, especially for complex coverages and higher premium policies.

This leads us to our third and final takeaway regarding “becoming customer-centric.”

The future of insurance is connected and fast.

Blockchain took center stage during a panel discussion comprised of blockchain experts from R3, the Institutes RiskSteam Collaborativ, Accenture and Aon. While the potential benefits of blockchain are incontestable, many insurers are wondering if the reality will live up to the hype. The panel agreed that the insurance industry is actually past “peak hype” and moving into real applications, today. A key learning from the panel was the idea of blockchain failing to exist without collaboration. A recent report by Accenture revealed insight that blockchain is a catalyst for business ecosystem transformation, and at its core, is a function that requires companies to work together to win. The more teams that play, the more value gets realized for everyone involved. This can be seen playing out in the industry today through different “blockchain alliances” forming across the healthcare industry. As an avid follower of blockchain innovation, it was encouraging to hear a panel agree that distributed-ledger technology (DLT) has moved beyond hype and into real world applications that could better areas like our healthcare system.

What We Think

Since its inception, the premise of the InsureTech Conference was to bring technology and innovation to the forefront of conversation within the insurance industry. In 2018, there was a distinct excitement around new collaborations between incumbents and startups. Only a year later, a collaboration between an insurance giant and technology provider has matured from innovative idea to mainstream strategy. Nearly all strategies and innovations presented at the 2019 InsureTech Connect pointed to a key industry goal: creating customer centricity across the insurance value chain. 

As carriers think about what their reality may look like 10, 20, or even 30 years from now, Allstate President Glenn Shapiro said it best, “We’ve got to disrupt ourselves to move forward.”

Tara Clemens

Tara Clemens

Tara Clemens is a Senior Research Analyst at Comperemedia. Tara specializes in insurance, publishing data-driven syndicated and custom reporting based in Comperemedia's consumer data, trends and competitive intelligence.