" class="no-js "lang="en-US"> EXCLUSIVE: People who need people - Big Insurers take the stage at the Global Insurtech Summit
Sunday, April 14, 2024

EXCLUSIVE: People who need people – Big Insurers take the stage at the Global Insurtech Summit

  • by Aniqah Majid, FF News

Near Saint Paul’s, just left of the Museum of London, insurers and insurtechs assembled for this year’s Global Insurtech Summit. After a few wrong turns in finding the elusive venue, I was welcomed to a sea of industry professionals, enthused and eager to talk, hovering around the coffee stations.

It has been a long and tumultuous couple of years for insurance, the current climate and geo-political situation only spearheading the issues of risk and fraud in the industry. A question I kept in my mind whilst pinballing between stages and booths? What are insurer’s going to do next?

In the first panel discussion of the day, focusing on the insurance leaders’ and their perspectives on the industry, Neville Koopowitz, the CEO of L&H insurer Vitality UK, stressed:

“The most important thing is keeping us relevant. The customer is going to drive behavioural change, the customers need to get engagement, and they need easy access to interface with us, and that is what keeps us up at night. It’s making sure that we are continuously delivering products that are relevant, we personalise products to their needs, that we are not selling products that we think they want.”

At the top of the business ladder, CEOs and senior executives are starting to realise that big changes in operations need to be made. If the pandemic has taught insurer’s anything, it’s that customers are vulnerable, and need them now more than ever.

Following Koopowitz, Tarun Kohli, the Managing Director and Head of New Propositions at Swiss Re, spoke about the current challenges for insurers:

“Our clients are navigating through very uncertain times. There are rising interest rates, rising inflation, the pandemic is still there, as well as its aftereffects, impact of climate change, geopolitical risk, and supply chain disruption. So for us, right at the top of the house, our mission is to make the world more resilient. Therefore, how can we partner with our clients to go beyond risk transfer? That is around risk partnerships and risk insights, and that is where the whole digital agenda plays a strong role.”

Insurance operates fundamentally on managing risk. The risk from all circuits of insurance, especially health risks, are at an all-time high. What has accumulated from the start of the 21st century has amounted to a singular grail: protection.

Whether it be personal or planetary, calculating and predicting loss is the most important goal for insurers right now, especially when you consider the global scale on which they operate.

The issues around protection were echoed in a later discussion at the Summit, “Insurance fraud and security – how to prevent and prepare your business.”

Gareth Davies, Head of Fraud at Allianz Corporate and Speciality, spoke on the new types of fraud festering online:

“You cannot underestimate the value in being present […] Silo mentality is the enemy of effective fraud detection strategies. It’s difficult enough working in insurance, where we all have specialist silos. When we went to work, those silos increased in number and reduced dramatically in size. So we’ve had to be more proactive in our approach to fraud, we’ve had to reach out and carry out more audits. When it comes to fraud detection, we’ve had to go out and look for it, and not be reliant on what people bring to us.”

Extrapolating from Davies’s point, Sophie Winwood, an Early Stage VC Investor at Anthemis, emphasises the importance of adopting new technologies in detecting fraud:

“What we’re seeing in the industry is an acceleration of insurers willing to work with new technology providers to solve some of these issues that traditionally they would try and handle in-house. If you take cyber start-up venture funding for example, in Q1 of this year, it amounted to $5 billion globally, which is a 50% increase from last year, and that means that this year is on track to beat the $20 billion that was invested in cybersecurity start-ups last year.”

As virtually all insurers migrate to online product distribution, and remote working becomes permanent for many businesses, the zealousness around building strong cyberinfrastructure is a necessity.

The discussion leads into birdseye musings on the age breakdown of insurance customers and whether we are ushering in a new age of digitally literate and time-orientated policyholders.

By far my favourite panel of the day, “Rethinking the next generation of customer,” questions around the future policyholder are handled head-on.

For David Priestly, the Chief Digital Officer at Vitality, all manner of product development and selling revolves around the customer:

“We’ve been through a transformation over the last 3-4 years where customer experience and insight around customer experience is now as important a part of the [sic] research and development and innovation process than the product idea itself. You wind the clock back three or four years, and people we’re dreaming up different insurance mechanisms, or different benefits or features for products, that’s not enough, from our perspective, anymore. You have to develop a concept in parallel with how you’re going to execute the experience.”

Wendy Williamson, the Senior Director of Technology Delivery and Insurance to SMEs at Capgemini, added a crucial point about bringing products to market at scale:

“A lot of the time when we are looking at the technology and the end-to-end solutions, we’re spending a lot of time simplifying it. Simplifying how the technology is used, what the components are within those products and lots of duplication and superfluous stuff when we go through the legacy products and the shape of how the product looks for the future.

“Typically we get told, “there are hundreds of products that we sell,” when you go in and you map it out, there isn’t. When you have an understanding of a product and how it works, and how to sell it, then you can be much cleaner and simpler about your technology, about your product and how you offer it to market.”

Customers are having a hard time navigating the rise in premiums, whether it be for their car, or their life, the cost of living is sorely felt. Listening to the insights from this Summit, it’s clear insurance and insurtech heads are aware of this strain and have taken an approach that will open up distribution channels to more customers, and develop platforms which can be easily accessible to them.

Concluding the event, Richard Sachar, the CEO of Investor Networks LTD and Director of FinTech Global, had these words to say:

“The next five years of insurance will be very different to the last five years, and that’s because we’re only halfway through the revolution.”

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