Daniele Presutti, Accenture’s Insurance lead in Europe, and Silvia Milián, Accenture’s Insurance lead for strategy and consulting in Iberia discuss how the submissions to 2021’s Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards demonstrated the extent that the insurance industry has been developing pioneering innovations. There will be more to come this year, as the 2022 awards are now open. Companies can submit their entries online until April 8, 2022, with winners announced in June 2022.

The insurance industry reached new heights of innovation in 2021 as it continued to pivote quickly to respond to the ongoing demands of the pandemic, and amid evolving customer expectations. Last year’s Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards received 460 submissions, from 289 institutions, across 55 countries – an increase of 30% over 2020. The award entries provide a diverse and unique global view of the industry and its truly pioneering innovations. Every entry was reviewed and distilled into six overarching trends that highlight the industry’s rapid transformation, showcase its adaptability and identify future opportunities. Some examples of submissions in these six areas follow here.

Customer Experience

Almost every insurer that made a submission in the last year’s reimagined their customer experience. Customers now demand the same “anywhere/everywhere” service from their insurer, as they do from their favorite online retailer. Customized, meaningful and omni-channel experiences are now therefore expected as standard, and the insurance industry has had to reimagine how customers view and buy insurance to remain relevant and compete in today’s ever-changing world.

For example, AXA Italy submitted an entry about a central knowledge solution it has created to benefit its customers, workforce, and its distribution network, ensuring communications are consistent and accessible to all – such as for policies and operating procedures. This “digital library” powers the overall customer experience and also provides the base for its artificial intelligence (AI) driven content solution that updates its online FAQs and chatbots.

Pervasive AI

Artificial intelligence is intrinsically linked to the previous trend as the enabler of customer experience, and it is reshaping how insurers operate and engage with their customers. AI has been utilized in some form across the industry for a while, but what we’re seeing now is transformative scale across the value chain.

For example, Generali Global Corporate and Commercial has partnered with Ticinum Aerospace to develop “Deep Property,” a tool that utilizes geospatial datasets and AI to enhance underwriting, pricing, and risk modeling. This results in more accurate insurance protection for its customers.

Embedded Ecosystems

Ecosystems continue to be a key tenet of transformation in insurance. In other words, by blending insurance with broader propositions and distribution models, insurers can provide new value and reach new customers. This isn’t a new trend– but it has evolved and intensified in the past year. Accenture’s Technology Vision for Insurance 2021 research found that the majority of insurance executives (84%) consider ecosystems an important strategy while 54% are actively seeking these capabilities.

For example, Baloise has partnered with Swiss digital property platform Houzy, to reinvent its ecosystem of home services for its customers. This enables homeowners access to one platform that provides a range of home related services, from property valuation to finding a builder, plumber or electrician. This is creating new, relevant customer touchpoints for Baloise and enabling the company to connect with customers outside the regular renewal/claim lifecycle.

Phygital Health and Wellness

There has been a significant increase in end-to-end health and wellness solutions in the insurance sector. The new digitally enabled world, accelerated by the pandemic, has allowed insurers to expand their suite of services to customers. Accenture’s Technology Vision for Insurance research has found that millennials are most interested in digital offerings that help them make safer, healthier and more sustainable choices. Older generations are also more open to sharing data in return for more personalized services to keep them fit and healthy, prevent diseases, injury and loss – an increase of 24% in just two years.

For example, “Savia,” MAPFRE Spain’s digital health service, is supported by its Digital Platform. Savia customers can use an AI symptom checker, chat with a specialist, obtain a digital prescription, make healthcare appointments and access medical tests and results. MAPFRE’s Digital Platform connects Savia customers to a wide range of products, services and partners, based on the individual customers’ needs.

Workforce Transformation

The biggest insurance workforce transformation in living memory was seen over the past two years as insurers pivoted to stay operational and keep employees safe during the pandemic. New and collaborative processes were required – and the technology to match. Accenture’s Technology Vision for Insurance research reported that almost half (43%) of insurance executives have invested in digital collaboration tools, and 48% say they have invested in cloud-enabled tools and technologies to support their remote workforce during COVID-19. While many countries are now in a state of economic recovery, new ways of working are here to stay.

For example, India’s Bajaj Allianz General Insurance created an AI-powered learning experience platform called SkillSity, providing personalized and self-directed learning for its employees anywhere and anytime. This offers over 190,000 learning assets and was designed to help its employees build new skills and capabilities whilst capturing and interpreting data insights around employees’ learning behaviors for continuous improvement.

Insurance Goes Green

Sustainability is undoubtedly a standout trend for insurers with a focus on sustainable products and investments as well as sustainable operations. Going green is no longer a nice-to-have. Purpose-driven insurers are starting to incorporate sustainability practices into their value propositions in a way that is integrated and authentic. In the long term, sustainability is the start of a new mission for insurers to demonstrate a broader, greener purpose and help make a difference to our world and its communities.

For example, in order to offer insurance cover for second-hand mobile devices, BNP Paribas Cardif created an app that analyzes a smartphone’s condition prior to the policy purchase. Smarty+ helps to extend the lifecycle of these devices, giving peace of mind to their eco-friendly new owners and thus having an overall positive impact on the environment.

To conclude, the spirit of innovation was clear in 2021’s awards and it is no longer the realm of a handful of insurers. These carriers are leading change, and not just for the sector. They are bringing in new value to customers and the broader ecosystem. As these trends show, the future of the insurance industry is one defined by positive and high impact change. More innovation to transform the industry can expected in the upcoming 7th annual Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2022.

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