What is insurtech?
The term “Insurtech” refers to the convergence of insurance and technology. It’s an industry that strives to digitize and automate the various stages in insurance from policy acquisition, payments, claims handling, risk management, and business operations such as marketing or customer service. Insurance companies are still heavily reliant on paper and manual processes. Fintalent’s insurtech consultants note that the outdated infrastructure of traditional insurers has not been able to keep up with the needs of customers. This is where Insurtech comes into play.
A large chunk of innovation in this space has come from new players rather than incumbents (which have tried for decades to overhaul their dated infrastructure. Startups have a mindset that’s more receptive to change, and are determined to reinvent the insurance industry from the ground up. Their solutions are based on digital technologies and business models that are much cheaper and faster than conventional ones.
Insurtech is currently a very small industry, but it has tremendous growth potential. The majority of the market is made up of new startups, but incumbents have also begun to recognize their disruptive potential, so traditional insurers are launching their own venture capital arms and accelerators with the goal of acquiring these startups before they become big players in the industry. Venture capitalists have shown interest as well, as they’ve invested vast sums into Insurtech companies both in 2015 and 2016.
The main disruptive forces in this industry are artificial intelligence, blockchain, mobile technology, big data and analytics, non-human data processing and wearable devices. At the very least, Insurtech has the potential to address some of the basic pain points that insurance companies have been experiencing for decades.
Insurtech Problem Solving Potentials
Claims handling. Traditional insurers often encounter a significant amount of manual work in each stage of claims handling, ranging from documenting information about incidents and clients to resolving inquiries. This is why this process is so costly for insurers – there’s a large amount of human time spent on each claim. Insurtech can potentially reduce this cost by automating these processes.
Customer service. Today’s insurers spend a considerable amount of money on customer service. There are multiple stages in the customer relationship with an insurer: setting up the account, collecting first policyholder information, sending regular renewal reminders and renewing policies online; all of which require human resources. Insurtech can streamline these processes through digital platforms that provide automatic login procedures and automatically capture data from agents or customers in real time about their needs or habits.
Marketing. Traditional insurers have a lot of overhead costs in terms of advertising to acquire new customers and keep them loyal to the brand. Many rely on telemarketing, direct mailings, and personal visits to customers’ homes. Insurtech can help streamline the advertising process through automated emails, web chat and social media advertising – all of which require significantly less human resources.
Customer acquisition. Traditional insurers often use agents as their primary channel to acquire new customers and reduce operating costs (as opposed to spending money on ads). Insurance agents often face a lot of overhead costs in terms of selling, training, commission and taxes. Insurtech could transform this process by replacing the insurance agent with an automated self-service platform that processes everything a customer need in the initial setup of his or her new policy.
Rate management. Customers often face multiple pricing options for insurance. This can lead to confusion about what any given company is offering, which can have a negative impact on overall consumer engagement with insurers. Insurtech companies are working to address the challenge of rate management through digital processes that personalize the offerings to an individual’s profile, optimizing the technologies for different risk profiles and personal preferences.
Transactions. Traditional insurers retain revenue from policyholders through the repeated renewal of policies. Insurtech companies are focusing on automated processes for renewal and claims processing that significantly reduce the need for human resources.
Underwriting. Traditional insurers rely on underwriters to manage risk and make decisions about which policies they should issue and in what amounts. Insurtech companies are attempting to automate every step of the underwriting process using big data, customer profiles and algorithmic processes, which can decrease significantly the need for human resources.
Acquisition. Traditional insurers often spend a lot of money on customer acquisition through telemarketing, direct mailings or personal visits from agents. Insurtech companies are attempting to automate the acquisition process through digital marketing channels, like email, automated chat and social media. Insurtech platforms can collect data about individual customers’ needs and habits to personalize the offering, making the entire process more efficient.
Customer management. The traditional process of customer management is expensive and time-consuming for insurers. Insurtech companies are attempting to transform this process by building digital self-service platforms that collect hard and soft data about customers’ needs, preferences and behaviors, creating a profile that can be used as the basis for predictive modeling that determines potential risk exposures.
Claim processing. Insurance claims cost about 2% of premiums annually. Many insurers struggle with the high volume of claims and process them in a manual fashion. Insurtech companies, on the other hand, are working to develop AI-based systems that can predict potential claims and optimize the processing of these claims using digital platforms. This can significantly reduce losses from bad debt, reduce human error and ensure that customers have an easy time getting access to their policies.
The Upside of Insurtech
The insurance industry is traditionally a slow-moving and conservative place. That said, in recent years the slowdown has created opportunities for new entrants that make the industry more efficient and less expensive. One of those advantages is the ability to gather an unprecedented amount of data about customers’ behavior and needs that can be used to develop personalized products and services. The largest traditional players in the industry are already investing heavily in this area.
While traditional insurers will continue to invest in the development of new technologies, the development of insurtech platforms is happening across the entire industry, in both developed and emerging market countries. This can generate huge benefits for all participants in the system.