After a year of remote conferences, it could not have been more exciting for the Highwing team to pack our bags and head out to Las Vegas for InsureTech Connect 2021. While there were questions about attendance leading up to the event, it did not disappoint. We spent time reconnecting with clients, partners, and friends and getting to see the latest and greatest in insurtech.
Having spent considerable time with the team from BrokerTech Ventures, who put on an amazing set of speakers on the demo stage, I wanted to recap five major themes around commercial insurance from the conference.
Here's what you need to know:
The role of the broker has never been more important
Perhaps especially among in-person attendees, the consensus about the role of brokers could not have been clearer: they're here to stay and more important now than ever.
After a year of lockdowns, people are craving personal relationships like never before. Consumers are more conscious about the companies with whom they work and there is a premium on transparency and communication.
That being said, people are also demanding more efficient customer experiences. Transparency and communication should not lead to confusing email chains in order to gather client data. Insurtech will enable brokers to make client touchpoints more valuable by freeing up time to focus on taking on more advisory roles for clients.
Collaboration is better than competition
There are still many in the industry who dismiss insurtech as a passing fad. The argument for this oftentimes is that the workflows, relationships, and data brokers and carriers possess are simply too valuable and too complex to fully upend the way business is done.
That argument is not wrong, but it misses key context in regards to insurtech: insurance is not a zero-sum game.
Experienced technologists founded many early insurtechs, doubting the complexity of the industry and believing that they could disrupt incumbents. Their lack of success should be unsurprising; however, this does not diminish the value technology can bring to brokers and carriers. The solutions that will work for the industry are the ones with seats at the table for all parties. Insurtechs collaborating with incumbents to drive their businesses will emerge the victors. BrokerTech Ventures is a great example, where insurtechs get to collaborate closely with brokers and carriers to incubate new technologies, and competitors even work together to bring these innovations to life.
Speed needs to be a key metric for innovation
While there was talk at ITC about the value of collaboration, there are still digital-first competitors at the gates. Digital-first competitors promise streamlined customer experience and faster transactions in general. As a result, speed needs to be a key performance indicator for innovation efforts in brokerages.
Speed needs to be measured in our transactions, innovation initiatives, and client experiences. Brokers who operate more quickly will be able to optimize customer touchpoints, increasing the lifetime value of each account and increasing retention. According to our data, a one-day increase in speed to binding a policy can equate to a 20% lift in closed business for carriers.
Speed is the currency of closing business in commercial insurance and technology is the driver.
Integrations will drive tomorrows insurtech
By now, there are insurtech tools for just about every part of the commercial insurance value chain. That’s a good thing, right? More efficient ways of doing business are always welcome, but training employees in new technology and adding more places where data is stored can spiral out of control quickly.
The solution? Integrations!
This was a hot topic at ITC, as integrations promise to remove duplicate work, increase data accuracy, and ultimately provide brokers and carriers with simple, custom systems to run their businesses.
The insurtech revolution is just beginning
We’re only just laying the groundwork for seismic changes in the industry and its value to society. Insurtech today is just beginning to digitize traditionally manual workflows and analog data. While this is already creating advantages in the industry, the major value-adds will occur once we are able to turn digitized data and workflows into new capabilities.
While it’s impossible to say what tomorrow’s technologies will do for the insurance industry, we can assume it will accelerate some existing trends: more personal client touchpoints, better insights, and a more proactive approach to risk management.
Once the troves of data in our industry become uniform and digitally accessible, integrations will power emerging technologies like AI and machine learning at scale. Faster transactions, deeper insights, and more real-time risk assessment will allow the industry to become more proactive than ever. This, in turn, will continue allowing brokers to eliminate wasted time and spend more time acting as trusted advisors to their clients.
While many insurtech products to date have not been able to influence substantial change in the industry, the momentum is shifting. Brokers and carriers who have understandably been slow to change operations are starting to think and move faster towards digital transformation. Insurtechs are also changing; where forward-thinking founders originally saw a market ripe for disruption, founders are now realizing that collaboration is a more valuable route towards creating value.
While insurance has been slower than other industries to adopt widespread technological change, all of the ingredients for innovation are there. Tons of data, a focus on customers, and enthusiasm for innovation were all in abundance at ITC, and I don't think there could be a more exciting industry to be in right now. As we work through Q4 and begin formalizing our plans for the coming year, we should all be looking forward to the innovations to come.
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