Exclusive: ‘Pushing the boundaries’ – Sean Ringsted, Chubb in “The Insurtech Magazine”
There was a time when the idea of picking a financial product off the same corporate shelf on which your cornflakes and baked beans were stacked sounded crazy. Now, supermarket banks are old hat: ride hailing firms, airlines, mobile phone operators, social media and technology companies… everyone’s getting in on the act. Finance sector borders, once a clearly defined sector, have been permanently blurred. What does that mean for the banks and insurers whose territorial boundaries are being breached?
The smartest are busy snuggling up to strange new bedfellows and using APIs in a value exchange that’s proving deeply disruptive but mutually beneficial. Global insurer Chubb, which has long seen the value in partnering, is one of them.
In September 2020, it launched Chubb Studio, the next stage in its mission to make insurance almost invisible but virtually everywhere by enabling retailers, ecommerce providers, banks, fintechs, airlines, telcos and a host of other industries to add digital insurance options to their own product and service offerings.
Here, Chubb’s chief digital officer Sean Ringsted tellsThe Insurtech Magazine’s executive editor Ali Paterson why the emergence of these increasingly complex financial ecosystems means insurance has a bigger role to play than ever.
The Insurtech Magazine: How have you seen the approach to partnerships change and evolve over the last few years?
Sean Ringsted: So many sector changes are taking place globally, whether that’s through digitisation, ecommerce… just look around at what’s happening today in terms of how business is being transacted in a number of sectors. Then you have underlying demographic changes – such as aging populations, urbanisation, changes in healthcare provision. All of these things combined are driving a whole set of new business models and new ecosystems.
Those that are successful, or will be successful, in riding the tailwind of these trends, have all expanded beyond their original core business to meet the opportunities and consumer demands. And they’re expanding their value chains in doing so. That expansion increasingly includes partnerships with insurers such as Chubb.
Across nearly every industry, you’re seeing enterprises developing these new ecosystems or platforms – a network of overlapping services, providing consumers with one-stop shopping and a really relevant experience. Obvious examples that come to mind are Alibaba and Tencent in Asia, or Amazon and Apple in the United States.
If we just focus on banking, many banks are moving towards what I would call a convenience banking model, and they’re based on a number of non-traditional financial services around milestone moments in someone’s life – getting married, going to university, buying a new home. At each of those moments, there’s a traditional interaction with the bank, whether it’s a loan, a mortgage, wiring funds, a credit card, or just simply opening an account. Banks are starting to engage in the digital ecosystems by offering contextual services as a complement to this traditional transaction. By doing so, they’re delivering a richer experience to their customers, and, at the same time, building greater loyalty and stickiness.
As all of these ecosystems and businesses grow, they create different risks for consumers and the companies serving them. That’s where insurance comes in. And that’s the great thing about insurance. Everybody needs it. It makes the world move, it protects you, your family and your assets.
So, if insurance can be transacted digitally, then it really helps these digital ecosystems move along.
TIM: How will the recently launched Chubb Studio help this approach to partnerships and will it change the insurance industry as a whole?
SR: I don’t know about the industry as a whole but, at Chubb, we’re very excited about it. Even before we launched Chubb Studio, we had about 150 distribution partnerships globally. In just the last few years, we signed five major new partnerships which has given us access to more than 100 million customers in Asia and Latin America. Those partners include major financial institutions, such as DBS, one of the largest and most respected banks in Asia.
Based on our experience of these partnerships, we’ve learned that to succeed it’s got to be about more than just impressive tech. It’s also about making the products and services contextual, relevant and very customer-focussed. This is where Chubb Studio comes in, and why our product teams are particularly excited about it.The platform will simplify and streamline insurance product distribution for our partners around the world.
It can be a complex and lengthy process to stand up a combination of technology and an insurance product, but with Chubb Studio, we really think we’ve simplified that process. Our partners are using the new platform to add insurance options to their own suite of products and services, and they can do that in minutes by adding a widget. They can also use the Studio to stand up a whole website, which could be white labelled, co-branded, or use a Chubb branded design option; or to go for a more complex, deeper API integration.
The studio technology allows direct access and interfaces for our partners to make their own adjustments in real time, and dashboards to keep track of everything.
In a nutshell, what Studio means is that Chubb can handle the insurance side of things – quotes, underwriting, payments, billing, claims processing and so on – while our partners focus on providing the insurance solutions that are most relevant and useful to their customer base.
For example, if you’re buying one-off travel insurance, the premium on that is pretty small, and that’s not effective to do manually. If you can do it digitally, you’ve just increased the range of product that’s available to a customer, and that’s but one example. As you start to go through these ecosystems, the products may be relatively simple – and the premiums relatively small – but Studio allows you to create more of them and make the purchase much simpler. It really is a win-win for the customer, in terms of their access to insurance that’s relevant and affordable.
TIM: How important is the use of open API technologies, as offered by Chubb Studio?
SR: They’re crucial. They’re the oil that makes the motor go around in these ecosystems. The connectivity between companies, in large part, is very much centred on APIs and, clearly, the more data you have and the better data you have, the better you are able to understand the customer and his/her needs and the better you’re able to develop products and services for them. It almost becomes a self-fulfilling, accelerating prophecy.
I think estimates over the next four or five years are that something like a third of the global economy will be powered through ecosystems. And it’s not just ecommerce, but mobility, travel, banking, healthcare… All of these are centred around human and organisational needs, and all of them require insurance in order to be able to operate. So, we’re very much at the core of providing risk transfer and mitigation services as these ecosystems continue to develop.
TIM: DBS was the first big bank in Asia to engage with Chubb Studio. How significant is that partnership?
SR: We officially launched a 15-year partnership with DBS in 2018 to exclusively distribute consumer and SME insurance products to DBS’ large customer base in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia, etc, and to do that through its banking channels, including in-branch, and various direct marketing channels.
To date, we’ve co-innovated a variety of customer-focussed online and mobile digital insurance products. That has been tremendously exciting. So, for example, we launched a fully integrated solution within DBS’ e-wallet PayLah!, and we built our travel insurance platform within the PayLah! app. It pre-populates customer details and allows them to pay in-app, so the customer journey is really quite seamless.
Our products are now fully integrated as a one-click purchase on DBS’ mobile platform, including products such as personal accident and health insurance protection. These are tailor-made for DBS, to match the bank’s customer segments, and the bank product integration points, such as bill payment, remittance, and credit card applications.
If you think about ecosystems and the need to integrate within the bank those touchpoints with the customer, these are some very real, practical examples of where and how we’ve done that.
The partnership with DBS continues to evolve. It is a great example of not only the kind of collaboration that’s a hallmark of a successful partnership, but it’s an example of how insurance can be used to drive customer loyalty and brand value.
The bank’s digital ambitions marry our own: it has a very strong focus on providing the best digital experience and that resonates with the vision we have for our clients. This partnership has been instrumental in unlocking new consumer touchpoints for us as we think about our products and services, and it has also represented an extraordinary opportunity to meaningfully improve consumers’ lives.
TIM: Do you think we will we start to see more collaboration between insurers and digital banks?
SR: The appeal to banks of offering insurance products to their customers is that it does generate greater loyalty, trust and value, especially when it’s a complement to the bank partner’s core products and services. In the past, the model may have been one where the insurer pushes the product and the bank distributes, but with digital technology, we’re moving to a model that is perhaps more collaborative.
Now, of course, with APIs, you can deliver insurance products and services right at the point where the bank needs it and wants it. So, the bank has a lot more choice and flexibility about where and how that insurance product/service gets delivered.
There’s so much energy and creativity right now, in terms of thinking about how to most effectively reach the customer, and today the digital channel is really proving to be a great touchpoint.
This article was published in The Insurtech Magazine #05, Page 4-5
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