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Dr. Robin Kiera spoke with Efma’s Boris Plantier about the shifts underway in the insurance industry and what he expects at this years Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards.
In banking we have seen the emergence of digital players like N26, Revolut, or Chime in different markets. But no new player seems to have really taken off in the insurance industry. Why is that? And do you think that someday we will see the emergence of strong new B2C competitors in the insurance industry?
A lot of challenger insurers - or insurtech as they are called - disrupted the market. Indeed a lot of challengers pivoted their business models now enabling insurers creating a win-win situation. Insurtechs get access to valuable clients and funds. Insurers receive desperately needed new technology and knowledge. Nevertheless, a lot insurtech, tech companies, reinsurers, and incumbent insurers are working on disrupting their marketplaces and taking advantage of the huge opportunities we have currently.
The absence of gigantic shifts should not blind us. It’s still possible that we’ll see disruption. This could be an insurtech start-up with a unique value proposition. This could be several smaller and midsize incumbents that quietly found a way of serving the customer better. This could be tech companies strategically expanding into the industry. Or it could be reinsurers cutting out a part of the value chain. We see activities in all four sectors, but it seems too early to say if and from where we’ll see disruption.
Should insurers be afraid of bigtech companies like Amazon or Facebook?
Facebook and Google don’t appear to be moving into insurance, but it’s no secret that Amazon is testing the waters. If any of the tech giants - including the Chinese Ping An or Zhong An - would seriously push into insurance using their incredible customer base access or even using their data for better risk prediction, this could have a huge effect in the market.
Let’s not forget that the simple idea of comparing insurance products has disrupted different markets over the last 10 to 15 years. Only a few years ago many were claiming nobody would buy an insurance over the internet and now we see whole lines of business being sold over aggregators. This could happen with the entry of tech giants too.
What are the challenges of an insurance company + insurtech collaboration?
The whole insurtech ecosystem is maturing. I think the days in which arrogant and ignorant start-up founders clashed with arrogant and ignorant insurance managers are over. Both sides have professional business men and women on their sides trying to understand each other. We see a lot of great and fruitful collaborations around the world - and that is exciting.
Tell me about your experience as a jury member for the Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards?
I was really impressed by some of the companies and projects. I heard some great stories and saw some great ideas - such as CCS with their marketplace idea - which we had not seen before. Even though we scout the international insurance and finance scenes around the world, it was great to see some new ideas. In addition, the Efma and Accenture teams were so kind and nice that I felt home right away at the event.
What do you expect from the insurers this year?
I am pretty sure there will be some incumbents within the next 3-4 years that can show that their business grew significantly over market because they took advantage of digital transformation. I am not sure if we will see it in 2020 though. I also would love to see some mature insurtech getting significant market share or reinsurers presenting bold moves. I am keeping my fingers crossed.
Submit until 10 April on the Innovation in Insurance Portal