Articles - Review of 2013


A meteor, a typhoon, a record-breaking drought… the headlines of 2013 have sadly been much less favourable than those of our previous golden year. Though such events may have spelt a tough period for insurers’ books, the question is - did market trends and boardroom strategy reflect a similar story?

 By Richard Clark, Head of Business Development at Xuber

 A common song of collaboration was to be heard on the streets of London in 2013. At the Xchanging London Market Conference, delegates and speakers alike were united in talking about one thing… ‘people’. It’s got to be about people and not transactions they said, and technology needs to enable people to communicate, collaborate and get closer to their customers.

 So as we give the bathroom scales yet another work out from festive indulgence, let’s take a look at some of the hot topics in 2013:the rising star that is Claims; making the case for analytics; why design is taking centre stage; how digitalisation is aiding customer-centricity; and whytelematicsis not stirring our loins - yet.

 Claims – no longer the poor relation

 Once the poor cousin to Policy, 2013 saw little old Claims finally stand up and be counted. Be it best of breed, or as part of an end-to-end solution, commercial insurers are using such systems to improve policy attachment, coverage verification and deliver pain-free settlements. Some insurers have created a single view of their customers by integrating Claims and Policy more closely - a strategic move which helps claims handlers and underwriters alike to provide an enhanced customer experience.

 Some however, despite having best intentions to whip Claims into shape, have not succeeded. For example, it’s easy to fall foul of picking a Claims system that wasn’t up to the complex demands of the speciality London insurance market – resulting in two-steps back despite a best-intended step forward.

 Analytics – time for a new carpet

 A much favoured topic in 2013, insurers have started to realise that decisions based on historical events lurking in filing cabinets and document trollies that wear tracks in the carpet just aren’t going to cut it in today’s market.

 When coupled with the right data – analytics promises personalised digital relationships, improved risk assessments, better customer segmentation, and more targeted products. And this year, we’ve seen firms formulate the business case for deeper customer insights in the commercial insurance world – a vital springboard for investment into analytics.

 Yet insurers are still falling short of getting their data in order and identifying the right tools with which to get clever.Get this wrong, and it’ll be much ado about nothing…And the even greater benefits of big data,will be wholly unrealizable.

 Design – all hail to the user

 The way we interface with technology - on our phones, our tablets, even in our cars- has driven the evolution of user-centric design over the last decade. As such, design is something we have come to take for granted in our personal lives.

 These personal expectations now mean that poor design is no longer acceptable by commercial insurers. And being on the receiving end of RFPs for insurance systems, this year we’ve started to see a greater emphasis on slick, intuitive design by our customers. Firms now actively seek feedback from their people during software evaluation - a voice that was rarely heard before. And it seems that insurance software houses are now listening. And rightly so.

 Mobility –ready to rock and roll?

 The insurer’s workplace is now far less defined, and 2013 has seen a much greater adoption of BYOD, homeworking, and mobile working - with people taking to the streets to visit customers and partners with iPads and tablets in hand.

 About time, many cry. However, the only problem with this move has been the quality of services being delivered to these devices. Many older systems still suffer from a touch of agoraphobia, and are not ready - or willing - to get out and about. It seems the desire to put people at the front of house is there – to collaborate more, to engage more, to build stronger face-to-face relations – but the mobile workforce is only as efficient as the information it can access, and systems have to step up if they are to deliver an acceptable mobile user experience.

 Telematics

 Whilst personal insurers continue to adopt telematics with great gusto to deliver ever-personalisedauto-relatedproducts, we’re still not seeing this take off in the commercial sector. Telematics gets talked about at conferences – but it’s mainly a lot of blue sky thinking, leaving many still to be convinced that there is a real application for this technology in the commercial space. All the evidence we have seen this year still points to telematics being firmly locked in the personal lines space.But when coupled with disruptive technologies like The Internet of Things, it will pay commercial insurers to keep the periscope firmly up.

 Whilst the spaghetti of legacy still renders many slightly bloated and lethargic, 2013 has seen a new dawn of realisation – a welcome decline in the FUD factor. Refreshingly, insurers are now starting to appreciate that the only way to transform the customer experience… or to realise greater efficiencies… or to reach global markets… is to modernise and enable people to do more.

 Every conference, every blog, every analyst report cited ‘people’ as the new factor for success. But withconsensus, conviction needs to follow. Insurers need to walk the walk.

 In the words of Pat Ryan this year, insurers need to “Get innovative. Get creative. And get business.” Reading between the lines, for those who are willing to take it, the opportunity is there for the insurance industry to ‘use technology to enable people’.
  

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