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If you want to know what the insurance industry will look like 10, or even 20 years from now, just take a look at what “millennial” carriers are doing today. From start-ups to full-fledged carriers and distributors, the competitors entering the market today represent everything that traditional insurance companies are looking to become: digitally native, customer centric, and highly efficient.

These companies may not seem like a threat—and indeed, they’re unlikely to become a direct threat to established carriers—but they can offer myriad lessons on how to compete in the 2020s.

Invest in a mobile app and chat bot.

Just do it. These features will become as integral into the insurance industry as underwriters and brokers.

Take Lemonade, for example. This upstart has created an app featuring a skillful artificial intelligence bot that promises to set up insurance for new customers in 90 seconds and pay out claims in 3 minutes. The benefits of this technology help the company reduce costs and administrative burden while thrilling customers with a pain-free, fast experience that ends in the same coverage they may have to jump hoops to get elsewhere.

Now, as Nick Lamparelli writes in, “Super fast claims handling…invites fraud.” This, among several other hiccups that Lemonade is likely to encounter as it expands, will likely limit the creative carrier’s threat to traditional insurers. Nonetheless, the company has enjoyed PR heaven, as insurance customers—especially digitally native ones—encounter the streamlined user experience. Meanwhile, Lemonade is operating with minimal overhead by channeling both claims and sales through an automated application.

Use technology for more than cost-cutting.

The modern insurance customer values convenience and mobility. Make your website or mobile app a one stop destination for everything your customer needs, and you’ll keep them around longer.

Beam, an Internet of Things (IoT) based upstart, gets it. You probably know how auto and home insurers have leveraged IoT to lower premiums, fast-track claims, and sell more insurance. But now dentists have skin in the game.

That’s right: Beam promises smarter dental care by aligning group premiums to healthy dental behavior—behavior that’s measured by their proprietary ‘smart’ toothbrush, the Beam Brush. Basically, you save more money if you brush regularly. The Beam Brush syncs with a mobile app, which records your dental hygiene habits, scoring users on an A-D scale and matching discounts with each score. You can even use their website to find dentists in your plan, and the company sends you all your dental hygiene needs—brush, toothpaste, floss, etc.—every six months, upping the convenience factor for end users.

For the most part, Beam is a traditional dental insurance company. But with their IoT device and powerful website, the carrier has disrupted the market and excited customers. They’ve done this by thinking beyond lower premiums. Beam has made convenience and whimsy central to its value proposition, creating a greater perception of value (while lowering premiums in the process).

The Cloud is about more than ditching legacy infrastructure.

Migrating your systems to the cloud isn’t just about moving away from outdated, legacy infrastructure. It’s an opportunity to provide more value to your customers, collect and use data more efficiently, and outperform competitors.

Embroker, a digital distributor, shows why cloud is King in the digital age. Their core value proposition is fast and simple insurance purchasing for small businesses. And the fast and simple part comes from its cloud-based system, data, and predictive analytics.

Embroker’s software is able to crunch data from a customer’s current insurance policies to identify gaps in coverage or opportunities for improvement. Then it quickly matches the customer with plans from leading carriers to align the protection and value that’s right for their business. The cloud doesn’t take a day off, though. Embroker continuously monitors customers’ coverage and exposure, contacting them instantly if there is unforeseen risk or better coverage out there.

Embroker leverages the cloud to save their customers time and paperwork—a benefit highly valued by their target audience of small business owners and startups. They’ve widened their cloud myopia to tap into the limitless potential of this still relatively nascent technology.

Shore up your data strategy to generate customer loyalty.

If you want to understand how incorporating data analytics can help your insurance company thrive, look no further than a nimble life insurance carrier that started with nothing but data. Health IQ has a compelling story behind it: when chest pains sent Munjal Shah to the emergency room at the ripe age of 38, he decided to turn his life—and health—around. Eventually, his health kick led him to creating a better assessment for understanding peoples’ commitment to health. Rather than the typical questions asked by doctors (which tend to receive falsehoods from patients), like “how many times do you run a week,” Munjal’s test asked questions like, “can you run an 8-minute mile?” His test study showed that, within the 4-year period it was conducted, the most health-conscious respondents were 41% less likely to die.

How better to monetize this data than with a life insurance company? Health IQ stands apart from the pack by collecting different types of data and using predictive analytics to better understand customers’ health habits. This data strategy allows the company to offer major discounts to health-conscious users—the average client will save about $4,000 in rates and $6,000 in underwriting savings over the course of a 30 year policy (MedCity News).

HealthIQ started with data, then transitioned to insurance. But there’s no reason a traditional carrier can’t turn that model around.

Learn from the newcomers

Nothing’s more frustrating than having a millennial explain technology to me. Still, there’s a lot we can learn from these digitally native tech obsessives. The same goes for the insurance industry. Creative carriers and digital distributors may not pose a direct threat to your established enterprise, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them. New entrants to the insurance market know how to leverage chat bots, mobile apps, IoT devices, cloud computing, and predictive data analytics to create amazing customer experiences and add value at every step of the customer journey.

Take inspiration from the vanguard of digital insurance, and you’ll be well poised to lead the industry for years to come.

Ritesh Koul

About the author

Ritesh Koul

Vice President, Digital Solutions and Delivery

Ritesh is the Vice President of Digital Solutions and Delivery and has been with Pyramid Consulting’s team since 2012. Before joining Pyramid Consulting, Ritesh worked as a lead client advocate. On an average day, Ritesh is busy providing leadership to his peers and championing customer technology. He often collaborates with other IT leaders to build dynamic client solutions. He is most excited by solving unique business conundrums and working with his fellow high-achieving team members. When not in the office, Ritesh loves to go on long walks through town to unwind from the day.

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