Life Insurance in the New Normality – Three Take-Aways

Customer exp­erience is life insurers’ top business priority in 2020, according to Forrester Research. But is delivering a great customer experience enough to win and keep customers?

It is well known among insurers that insurtech startups are hammering the incumbents. And this is because “insurtech startups are creating new business models and capabilities that will shape how insurance is discovered, evaluated and sold”, as research and consulting firm Forrester Research reveals in its report, “Insurers Should Leverage Digital Technology To Strengthen Agency Distribution”.

According to VentureScanner.com, there were more than 1,500 insurtech startups last year, globally. They cumulatively raised $31B and each believes they can disrupt their niche and steal market share from what they perceive to be inadequate incumbents.

On top of that comes a turbulent 2020. “We’ve seen a lot of movement and a lot of transformation happening in financial services around the globe”, as Teodor Blidăruș, CEO and Co-Founder of FintechOS put it during a recent webinar for the insurance industry, hosted by FintechOS.

What does transformation look like? And what is driving it? FintechOS explored the most recent developments in insurance with a panel of industry experts – Ellen Carney, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research; Lidia Drăgan, Products & Services Director at UNIQA Asigurări and Marcin Warszewski, Director of Deloitte Digital CE Insurance Lead.

That “there’s going to be a dramatic change in the skillset for everybody working for an insurance company” clearly emerged as one conclusion.

Below you’ll find the three main take-aways from FintechOS’s webinar, “Life Insurers: Don’t Waste Your Customer Insights,” extracted from our guest speakers’ presentations.

 

1. A new priority: customer-centricity

Some months ago, we started to talk about the “new normal”. Consumers had no choice but to go online and look for insurance coverage. “It’s driven the insurance legal and compliance team­ to think differently, as well as the industry’s accounting and finance teams about how people are going to pay for the coverage that they had”, said Ellen Carney, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research.

On the other hand, Carney continues, “we’ve invested a lot in digital technology to get our customers to actually go online and buy from us. And of course, we’ve invested in advanced technology to speed up the underwriting process”.

“Insurance organizations are quite proficient at being able to cut costs. But improving the experience of customers is a little bit harder” – Ellen Carney, Principal Analyst at Forrester Research

 

The number one priority for insurance companies before the pandemic was growing revenue, the Forrester Research analyst points out. “Guess what’s number one now? The experience of our customers (…) Insurance organizations are quite proficient at being able to cut costs. But improving the experience of our customers is a little bit harder”.

Research shows that nearly 40 per cent of insurers say that customer experience “was a critical or a high priority for the organizations”.

Lidia Drăgan, Products & Services Director at UNIQA Asigurări, admits that the insurance company she is working for has performed a lot of projects aimed at achieving excellence in operations and in sales. “We were focused on productivity, to increase performance and, of course, to add value to our customers. And we’ve seen the results. Our ranking has improved considerably over the years. However, we realized that, at this point in time, we are far from actually reaching customer excellence.”

It became very clear to UNIQA that the expectations of the consumers in the insurance industry are set by companies outside the industry, like Amazon and Apple. And so data-driven, real-time, seamless interactions have to become the norm in the insurance industry too. In short, the bar has been raised.

“We also had to consider not only the expectations of our customers, but also the expectations of our sales agents, because both policyholders and the sales agents are the real drivers of the strategy of the insurance company. We’ve also fully integrated digital tools in some areas of the business and this has brought us closer to our goal, but our aim is to improve customer value proposition by aligning our people, processes and systems around customer-centric principles, and hence we’ve started a Customer Centricity Project.”, Lidia Drăgan explained.

As a result, UNIQA achieved a master plan that includes all the projects and all the initiatives that “will set the basis for organizational transformation”.

But a key factor for a successful customer centricity project is “fostering a customer-centric culture”, Drăgan points out. “This means that the leadership should be supportive of the customer-centricity principles employees are taking on board and make sure that they fully understand the strategy of becoming truly customer centric.”

A key factor for a successful customer-centricity project is “fostering a customer-centric culture” – Lidia Drăgan, Products & Services Director at UNIQA Asigurări

 

2.  Two kings right now: personalized content and data

People get married, buy houses, have babies, change jobs, and so on. When there’s a big life event going on, insurers think that they have to know about it. They also think they have to be able to predict it. “And that requires data. So personalized content, well, that’s underpinning financial well-being”, says Ellen Carney, who has been covering the insurance industry for Forrester Research for the last 13 years.

Marcin Warszewski, Director at Deloitte Digital and CE Insurance Lead, has a similar view on personalized content. His research shows that people are all over the Internet searching for information when they need life insurance. It is becoming a hugely important source of leads.

“So, what can insurers do to improve the online domain experience?” he asks.  “First of all, I think it is important to acknowledge that customers will look for information across many, many channels, but they will mostly start on the Internet. They will call the agent. They will go back to the Internet. So we have to focus our energies on the Internet. We have to understand what the customer is looking for. And we have to collect that data.”

What comes next? Feeding each contact channel with the right information is a must. “It’s very important for the customer to fit with the data (…). We have to understand customers’ interests, their behavior, and then personalize”. In short, “data is the king right now”, Warszewski said.

 

”We have to understand customers’ interests, their behaviour, and then personalize. In short, data is the king right now” – Marcin Warszewski, Director at Deloitte Digital and CE Insurance Lead

  3.A dramatic change in the skill set for everybody”

Industry experts agree there’s going to be a dramatic change in the skill set for everybody working for an insurance company, whether they’re an advisor, a broker or someone in the call center. They have to become data analysts.

“Really being able to understand data is going to be part of their jobs: how those customers are behaving, what’s going on in their lives, where they’re located and being able to act on it. Probably less important for us in the life insurance business, but certainly important for the general business”, Forrester Research’s Ellen Carney concluded.

Will the changes adopted recently by insurance companies remain? The webinar’s speakers were certain that most will. That’s why we might soon be dropping the “new” in insurance’s “new normal”.

***

 

This article is part of a series of articles and webinars dedicated to the insurance industry. FintechOS has talked to leading companies from incumbents and startups to accelerators and consultants, to get to the heart of the questions: What does transformation look like? And what is driving it?

For more findings on insurance:

➡️ Watch the recording of the webinar – on-demand: https://fintechos.com/webinar-life-insurers-customer-insights/

➡️ Ask for the Forrester Research report on Insurance: https://info.fintechos.com/analyst-report-forrester-research-insurers-digital-technologies