Amanda Blanc explains why insurers should be looking to partner with the insurtech disruptors
It is often said that insurance has become a commodity; that it is a slow, transactional industry, resistant to change and lacking its societal purpose. This is certainly historically true but does that perception hold true today?
I would argue not, and the very people we are told are our enemy actually hold the key to an alternative future. The rise of insurtech heralds the possibility of a new dawn for insurance and a real opportunity to redraw the role that insurance plays in society. Take insurance disruptor Lemonade. It has come along and generated huge excitement, claiming it had set a world record for the speed and ease of paying a claim at three seconds and with zero paperwork. What more could customers want?
The lazy assumption is that traditional insurers are lagging behind but if you look closely, there are those who are taking advantage of this new world and are part and parcel of turning the industry on its head. We can now say with confidence that the insurance industry is changing the way the world works and evolving to deliver greater benefit to customers and wider society. These are just some of the ways that is happening:
- Driverless cars will dramatically reduce the number of accidents and deaths on our roads, bring the isolated back into the community and completely revolutionise the way we use our roads
- On-demand insurance allows consumers to protect the individual items they want, for the period that suits them and control the whole insurance process
- New healthcare tech is using predictive analysis to identify health and wellbeing abnormalities in the workplace, helping organisations to look after their employees to live better, longer and happier lives
- Insurers are investing in research and development that is investigating how society can make homes and businesses more resilient to the devastating impact of flooding.
These are just the more high profile examples and the industry's central role in developing and adapting technology provides us with a rare opportunity to usher in a new golden age of insurance. However, approaching technological advances with the traditional, conservative insurance mindset will not work. We have to be prepared to work with the innovators, those disruptors who many insist threaten our very existence.
Far from being a threat, disruptors are the current and future partners who are going to assist us in ridding ourselves of a largely negative public reputation, and show that not only are we still relevant, we have a key role to play in the development of society at large.
By embracing this transformation and partnering with startups and innovative disruptors, insurers can learn to look at their products and services from an entirely different perspective. In return, disruptors can benefit from our technical expertise and our scale to aid them in bringing the vision to life.
This will change the insurance landscape by offering consumers personalised and innovative solutions to suit them; develop solutions to problems we do not even know we have yet; and play a much more integral role in the society around us. I believe this is the only realistic way that this great and historic industry of ours is going to rediscover its true and natural role in society.
Amanda Blanc is group CEO at Axa UK and Ireland