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February 29, 2016

Tech Innovation Is No Longer Optional

Summary:

The days of doing cost-benefit analyses for many changes are long gone. We have to embrace technology as customers do -- like crazy.

Photo Courtesy of Alainn

Today, about 80% of people will read at least one email on their smartphone or tablet. Ten years ago, that number would have been roughly zero. And most people are also using their smartphones and tablets to shop online, navigate in their cars and even get insurance quotes.

Have you ever considered the changes technology has made in your life over the past 10 years? The smartphone wasn’t even a commercial product until 2007. These days, most people can’t live without their phones.

If you’re older than 35, you may remember a time when business was done differently,when you used the Yellow Pages to find a plumber, when you had to fax applications and forms and when a landline conversation was the only alternative to a written letter.

Technology is aggressive today. It’s inserting itself into our lives and disrupting the way we communicate and conduct business. In many ways, insurance companies have been quick to embrace this disruption, introducing online account access as well as paperless policies, benefit summaries, drug cards and claims statements.

But these steps are just the start of what insurers should be doing to continue evolving with technology.

Most insurers still have a lot of catching up to do. Here are a few other changes your company should consider making:

  • Streamlining the sales and underwriting process so data is entered just once and can be used by all downstream systems. because fewer touch points makes for a faster, more accurate experience
  • Automating the renewal process
  • Ending the reliance on manual proposal generation
  • Improving the accuracy of rate calculators in the field
  • Implementing a system for automatic rate quotes and revisions

We all like to think we have some control over the changes we make to our business and processes. We like to weigh the costs and the potential savings, evaluate the potential for increased profits and measure the scalability and potential risks.

This gives us the idea that the changes are voluntary, that we can implement them only after we decide the benefits outweigh the costs and risks. But when it comes to technology and insurance, these decisions are no longer optional. They’re vital because technology is quickly becoming the only tool that allows insurers to:

  • Stay competitive
  • Keep up with and integrate regulatory changes
  • Stay connected with clients and brokers
  • Change rates and features of insurance products without depending on the IT department
  • Quickly disseminate information to policyholders on the Internet

Tech innovation is not an option for insurers. Instead, it should be embraced in the same way consumers embrace it—like mad.

Let’s look at technology as an enduring partner that is providing the means to ensure our future success. As an industry, we have spent hundreds of years evolving—from ancient maritime policies to fire policies underwritten in London coffee houses to million-dollar policies issued on famous body parts. Why would we ever stop?

The tech revolution is unstoppable. While insurers may not need to be at the bleeding edge, being technologically backward is a recipe for irrelevance and failure. Today, there’s little choice but to innovate intelligently and strategically.

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About the Author

Mike de Waal is president and founder of Global IQX, a leading software provider of web-based sales and service solutions to employee benefits insurers. He has deep experience in both software development and business management skills.

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