It’s Different This Time: Why Technology is Changing Insurance Forever

You say “insurtech.”

I say “insuretech.”

I like the “e” there – it feels more like a real word. Anyway, I digress…

A few weeks ago I was speaking at a conference about how innovative technology (aka “disruptors”) will change the insurance industry’s image with three “Cs”: a community feel, convenience, and a cool new look. An audience member asked a good question: “Back during the dot-com days, everyone was saying how insurance companies would be replaced. It didn’t happen. What’s different this time?”

It feels different this time, for these reasons:

  • When it all played out, most dot-com companies weren’t able to disrupt the basic value proposition. It was more about updating websites – which is inexplicably still a challenge for too many firms.
  • For proof of the far-reaching consequences of today’s innovative disruptors, have a gander at other industries from retail and investing to taxicabs and hotels. Insurance is just one of the last categories to be picked clean. The level of investment in insuretech since 2015 is astonishing.
  • Legacy systems for key functions such as policy administration today are evolving dramatically. Unencumbered by the old, slow ways of doing business, the innovators are crunching data to underwrite with fewer (or no) questions.
  • Mobile phones weren’t ubiquitous during the dot-com days. Today, most of the innovation is happening via smart phone apps and on platforms such as Facebook Messenger.
  • The biggest shift of all isn’t happening within the insurance industry itself. It’s with the all-powerful consumer. People simply will not endure the Baby Boomer’s way of transacting business. They seek convenience. Anywhere you can save consumers time – rather than take their time – will result in a win for your organization.

To be sure, the dot-com investors 20 years ago evolved the insurance industry towards something more desirable. Companies, distributors and other industry players used web user interface technology to improve their online consumer-facing presence as well as back-end systems.

But today, we are witnessing a revolution over an evolution. And it can be scary for venerable insurance brands.

Don’t give in to the fear about the disruptors and innovators. Don’t be paralyzed. It’s okay to be paranoid – and channel the nervous energy toward enduring change for your organization. And if you don’t know where to start, begin with a fresh brand and culture strategy.

Yes, it’s different this time.

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