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July 13, 2015

The Coming Renaissance

Summary:

Our industry, steeped in centuries of tradition, must erase the idea that we can ease into the renaissance with minor adjustments.

Photo Courtesy of Michael Ruiz

Insurance has been around for a long time … dating back to ancient times. The first written insurance policy was carved into a Babylonian obelisk; the “Hammurabi Code” offered basic insurance for individuals if a personal catastrophe made it impossible to pay back a debt. Insurance continued to grow and evolve across centuries and continents. The guilds in Europe supported master craftsman with a type of group coverage to subsidize them and their families upon injury, disability or death. Deals made in London coffee houses to cover maritime risks were the beginnings of the London Market. These efforts met a universal and timeless need to stabilize individuals and the economy against risk.

The evolution of insurance often followed emerging developments such as the agricultural revolution, the industrial revolution and the information revolution. Each of these revolutions created and reshaped businesses, including insurance. Insurance evolved with each revolution to meet changing needs and to adapt to new developments or technologies that changed businesses, markets and risk. Each revolution required a re-thinking and re-alignment. It required business leaders to shed sacred notions and wake up to the possibilities of rebuilding on a new foundation while maintaining the old structure long enough to move out safely.

Erasing the notion of moderate change

Our industry is waking up and finding itself in the midst of seismic shifts. A revolution is underway: the digital revolution. This revolution is different because of the complexity, breadth and depth of converging factors and global changes. Our industry, steeped in centuries of tradition, must erase the idea that we can ease our organizations into the new era with minor adjustments.

Think of how the digital revolution is going to reinvent your business model. Insurers are moving from product-driven to customer-driven strategies; from limited distribution channels (such as agents) to an array of channels based on customer choice; from line-of-business silos to customer-centricity and customer experience for all products across all lines; from simply containing risk to actively providing personal risk management; and from siloed solutions focused on transactions to a platform portfolio that brings together real-time interaction for all products and services for customers, giving them an Amazon-like experience. Whew! It stretches our minds to consider it all at once.

The rebirth of real opportunity

These influencers of change are challenging traditional insurance models, resulting in declining customers, loyalty and premiums. Whether it is the demand for mobile channels in addition to agents; or declining life insurance or personal auto and home insurance because of demographic changes; or declining premiums for products like auto insurance because of the emergence of technologies like crash avoidance, connected cars and autonomous vehicles, these influencers of change demand we have a re-imagination and a rebirth of insurance.

The promise of the digital revolution is that we can. Traditionally damaging business factors no longer have to be met with traditional business adjustments.

Insurers must look to reinvent the business model, not unlike how Uber reinvented the taxi model. Increasingly, insurance CEOs are speaking out about the coming disruption of insurance and the need for insurance to aggressively rethink the business model.

On May 27, 2015, Generali’s CEO, Mario Greco, commented in the Financial Times that insurers will disappear unless they embrace sweeping technological change. He went on to say that the insurance sector is “on the verge of a revolution and has been lagging behind every other industry — it has been paralyzed.”

On June 30, 2015, Lloyd’s CEO, Inga Beale, stated in the Financial Times that insurers are in danger of being “uberized” as technology allows companies from other sectors to undermine insurance sectors role to manage risk.

So how do insurers move forward? First they need to keep their current business viable and growing to fund the future. This requires transformation of the existing business by leveraging a platform of integrated solutions — laying the groundwork for a renaissance of insurance.

Insurers may enhance auto or life insurance policies, processes and customer interaction. Foundational transformations can also be used to reinvent insurance such as by offering a “family or lifecycle policy” that offers a single bundle to meet the broad risk of individual or family needs instead of individual policies for each of the needs. Alternatively, insurers could offer new risk mitigation or value-added services that leverage technology from the connected home and connected auto … all creating a new customer experience and engagement model.

In recent UK consumer research published by Majesco, one in every three customers feel that insurers are failing on minimum service expectations. Even the highest customer satisfaction score in the insurance industry — 69%, reached by motor insurance providers — compares unfavorably with world-class companies such as Amazon, which scores 87% based on the UK Customer satisfaction Index for January 2015. Furthermore, more than 70% of the market indicates they want a “family” product, combining motor, home, travel and pet in a single insurance policy. Nearly 42% would buy a family product tomorrow, while 30% were unsure but did not rule out the option – highlighting that a significant majority (72%) of the market expects access to a product that is not available today.

While some insurers will dismiss the findings as not relevant to them, they should instead see a warning signal that policy bundling is growing in demand. The Internet has created a market with “no borders” because customers research online to seek out offerings and options to meet their needs. In today’s digital world, what happens in one region does not stay in one region. Rather, these new developments from products to services, new channels and new approaches to risk are rapidly rippling to other regions.

The examples are many. John Hancock’s new life product uses South Africa’s Vitality concept. Google’s Compare site was the result of a UK acquisition. Direct-to-consumer models cropped up first and most strongly in Australia and the UK. Any one of a hundred multi-national insurers can send an idea rippling across continents at the speed of an e-mail. Meeting the digital revolution with real transformation is going to require an acceptance that everything we have known about insurance was good for yesterday. The only thing we can count on is the necessity of insurance that has held true from the Hammurabi Code until today.

So as you attend industry events and read articles, blogs and reports, put the topic of business transformation into strategic perspective. Is business transformation helping you move from legacy software solutions to modern, configurable solutions that will handle the unexpected future? Are you providing a foundation to change traditional business assumptions and business models to provide an enhanced customer experience and value? Will you be the traditional retailer or an Amazon? Will you be the traditional taxi or Uber? Your answer will influence your strategic direction and relevance in an industry that is on the precipice of disruption. Will you be disrupted or be the disruptor? Majesco is focused on transformation as a path to renaissance. Are you?

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About the Author

Denise Garth is senior vice president, strategic marketing, responsible for leading marketing, industry relations and innovation in support of Majesco’s client-centric strategy. Garth is a recognized industry leader with both P&C and L&A insurance experience as a CIO and business executive with deep international ties in Asia and Europe.

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