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The Future of Customer Driven Insurance

“I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want…”

What would happen if we actually took a look through the lens of the customer to truly understand what they really, really want? This short article discusses the opportunity and need to radically transform our current thinking – to bring the customer into the room and challenge our assumptions. What would this mean for insurance companies, regardless of line of business, size of company or geography?

For me, the defining moment that signalled a change in how insurers innovate was in July 2015. I was sitting in a large insurance conference in London (remember when we could do that!?) and was waiting for the next speaker. What looked like a teenager rocked up to the podium dressed in jeans, trainers and a tee shirt and we all thought, what’s he doing there, maybe the mic’s broken? He said, “Hi there, I’m your next speaker and I want to tell you about the time I tried to buy car insurance for just a few hours to borrow my mate’s car… and couldn’t, so I created my own insurance company and now offer this product via the customer’s smartphone, 100% digital and really slick”… you could have heard a pin drop…

“The audacity”

“Who gave you permission to do that”

In fact, “How did you do that”

The brilliant Freddy Macnamara had founded Cuvva and went on to secure sizeable VC funding and the rest, as they say, is history… I see they have announced that their mission is “radically better insurance” – I am not surprised – bring it on!

This was a light bulb moment for me that signalled the growth of change and I have since seen many insurtechs give this new and radical approach a go – typically starting with what the customer actually needs, not what typical insurance companies think customers need. We can all think of similar examples of insurtechs ripping up the rule book and experimenting, be it Bought By Many – loving the customer (and the customer’s pet!), Laka – building a real community, Flock – providing smart underwriting at the point and location of the drone flight, Caura – driving made easy or Parsyl – protecting the distribution of vaccines globally. There are now many, not all winners, but all highly motivated to succeed.    

Yes, I too see some incumbent insurance companies also giving it a go and succeeding (such as AXA XL Construction Ecosystem, Brit Ki and Hyperion X), but alas we can be doing so much more and sometimes we only do things as a result of the customer grabbing the bull by the horns… Would EY and some insurance companies have closely collaborated on the leading Insurwave initiative if the customer, Maersk had not driven it forward? There is a real opportunity to collaborate across the industry as a catalyst for positive change and perhaps focus less on pure efficiency gains and more on a collective focus on what the customer really – no, really really wants? What could that do to the topline and hence, with smart approaches, the expense ratio? What if we avoided the easy trap of trying to force the customer to do what is convenient for us and buy products we want to offer? How many unconscious assumptions are made when asking customers for feedback, which then limit or bias the responses… “Through which channel would you like to buy your traditional annual policy?”

To quote the insightful Robin Merttens of Instech LondonWe are in danger of being so preoccupied with refreshing our own technology and infrastructure that we have taken our collective eye off the needs of the customer”… Watch out for Robin’s report on E-Trading Platforms: Challenges, Opportunities and Imperative – not one to miss.

Deloitte has just published the results of a very insightful survey of some 8000 customers from 8 countries that asked “What makes home and motor insurance attractive to consumers?” We discover that customers want simplicity, flexibility and the ability to transact via online channels – they also want to trust their insurers – not just with their data, but also that they will be “there for them” in the event of a claim….perhaps a nod towards more parametric insurance?

The sorts of customer trends that I see are around wanting instant solutions, frictionless data rich experiences, value exchanges (not data exchanges) with real engagement, very tech enabled (smart phone, IOT, wearables), 100% digital and, to quote my good friend Kenny Leitch, helping actually “stop the bad stuff from happening in the first place”.

It’s very easy to find examples from outside insurance – Uber, AirBnB, Spotify, Monzo/Starling, smart cities… enough said.

So, let your imagination run wild for a minute… What if one of your current customers became your CEO tomorrow? What sorts of changes would they make? What would be their priorities? Do we really ask ourselves the question – what do our customers really want? 

I often hear the term “customer centric”, but I question whether we truly know what that means in terms of product, experience, technology etc., and how we create the framework for doing it. How to get the fresh thinking in, the new talent, where the default is to say “what if”, and “wow that’s a great idea” [BTW – the easiest way to kill an idea in its tracks is to ask “How are you going to do that…” ugh]. The importance of business agility is only just being realised – the ability to quickly reach out to form new partnerships, create innovative ecosystems/platform plays and just try new stuff out much, much quicker… and cheaper.

These are just some of the themes we will be exploring at the Camelot Network’s Big Round Table event on 2nd March “The future of customer driven insurance” – and you are warmly invited to come along to debate, challenge and learn – not just listen. We’ve got some great thought leaders kicking off the debate, including Rebecca Bunyan, CI&CO Lloyd’s of London, Charlotte Halkett, Chief Commercial Officer at Bought By Many, Tom Baigrie, CEO of Life Search and Evangelos Avramakis, Head Digital Ecosystems R&D at Swiss Re – followed by some great collaboration on this key topic.

I’d love it if you could join us. 

Having a true customer centric ethos is so important. We know that the insurance industry does not have a right to exist and customer’s expectations are constantly being driven by Apple, Google, Amazon – not by their experiences with other insurers. Turning this digital disruption into positive business opportunities will be crucial in everyone remaining relevant and meaningful to the customer of tomorrow, or even of today… In the words of a famous song…

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really, really want

So tell me what you want, what you really, really want

I wanna (Hey!), I wanna (Hey!), I wanna (Hey!), I wanna (Hey!)

I wanna really, really, really wanna “_____________”, ah

I’ll leave you to fill in the blank space… and see you on 2nd March.

David Clamp

Founder of The Camelot Network

The Camelot Network is a collection of experts who have “been there and done it” as former C-Suite and senior managers from within and outside the insurance industry – who believe in the Round Table approach, where equal partners are committed to collaboration, are generous with their knowledge and care passionately about making a positive difference. 

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