Future of Insurance Conference: The Future Is Yours

Post-event Musings from FST Technology & Innovation: Future of Insurance Conference.

I had the pleasure of attending FST Media’s 9th annual Future of Insurance Conference in March this year. The event focuses on bringing together executives from leading insurance organisations to discuss and consider the future of IT and innovation trends impacting the industry including: advanced business intelligence, social media, mobile, cyber intelligence, cloud computing, end-user engagement and customer centred re-engineering.

Opening the Future of Insurance Conference, Donna Vinci from IAG certainly set the theme upfront for this year’s conference with three big questions:

 How do insurers increase relevance?

How can insurers be sustainable?

How do insurers remain relevant?

Insurers are clearly faced with competition, not only from other providers but from a stack of other organisations from different industries that are now stepping into the arena, leveraging their customer intimacy to provide aggressively priced, personalised policies; no product line is sacrosanct, the disruptions are everywhere and unavoidable.

The choice is clear: Be a disruptor or be disrupted.

So, why are new entrants coming from such diverse angles? Customer data, knowledge and insight. In the age of the customer experience and big data, what differentiates the leaders is how they use that information and most importantly how it is translated into actions.

There is no shortage of means and devices to capture all of that personal information, including Nano technology, telematics and biometrics. Mobile devices with real-time connection provide pertinent data and insight into a current state, potentially detecting a dangerous situation that could lead to a loss and therefore a claim.

The new normal is a world of connected people and connected devices with enormous volumes of data flowing but most importantly, actions resulting from the insight gained from all of that data and more specifically, that fast data.

One thing was certain this year; insurers seemed to have resigned themselves to the fact that they needed to adapt and to be agile, innovative and disruptive. They cannot stop new entrants, and some even talked about partnerships with start-ups.

The new turning point this year was the recognition of a need to evolve and transform; a need to extend outside traditional boundaries and achieve a pro-active customer engagement focused on preventing loss in the first place and therefore focused on preventing claims.

While we wait to book our driverless auto cab from the app on our smart-watch and for IBM Watson to graduate from med school, we are faced with significant challenges in areas such as cybercrime and legislation.

While we talk about segmentation of one and of personalising the process not just the product, and individual pricing in real-time, there is a dark side to insuring people at such a granular level. What will happen to higher-risk people? Will we end up with two-tier insurance? Will we end up with tax levies similar to those we saw in recent years following the floods in QLD?

 One of the panellists reminded us of a quote from Peter Drucker:

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

 The future of insurance is in our hands, and clearly technology is playing a pivotal role in shaping that future. We as industry players, technology providers and consumers, bear the responsibility to educate ourselves and master that technology in such a way that it brings us all benefits as a whole rather than to a select few.