Speaker: Fukhairudin Mohd Yusof – CEO at Etiqa General Insurance Berhad, Malaysia
With the insurance industry experiencing many changes in recent times, digital disruption has brought innovative ideas and features to the forefront of the industry. Today, “insurtech” has become a buzzword in the insurance industry as it embraces digitalization. Globally, many insurance companies have embarked on the insurtech movement, demonstrating a commitment to innovation and the development of new and existing products. They have streamlined business processes, increased efficiency, and improved customer experience using technology — building in-house capabilities or partnering with tech companies. It is also no longer strategic for insurance companies to work in silos. For instance, with companies like Amazon having the customer base and technology, forging a partnership with them can enable insurers to sell embedded insurance at the point of purchase.
Fintech meets Insurtech
Fintech is a common term within the banking environment. And fintech meets insurtech, a partnership between banks and insurance companies, has the potential to unlock tremendous value, particularly in the small and medium-sized enterprise market segment. Besides, with the advancement of technology, financial institutions own rich data sets, which can be leveraged using AI to predict customer needs and provide them with the best solution at the right time.
Meanwhile, insurance products provide security and reduce uncertainty, which are the top priorities among SME owners navigating the rapidly transforming global landscape. Customers are also becoming more demanding. Simple, generic financial products or services are no longer sufficient because customers crave new experiences. So, the market is witnessing a paradigm shift, moving beyond traditional sector borders, and experiencing a large convergence of financial services.
Today, it is not only banks and insurers offering financial services. Telcos, retailers, and carmakers are offering extensions to their original products and including embedded insurance into their product proposition. All of these are a harvest field for potential customers when working with innovative insurtech and fintech companies.
With the insurance industry experiencing an accelerated change, the talent strategy requires the same focus as the business strategy. In the past, talent had taken a backseat in many insurance organizations. However, as insurers pursue strategic ventures such as entering new markets or undergoing digital transformation, talent management and human resources have become vital success factors. Hence, talent is in-demand in the robust insurance space.
As customers become savvier and more demanding of high-quality interfaces, Amazon, Google, and other leading apps have become the benchmark for digital interactions. Technical and innovation skills are also in demand as they are crucial to helping businesses manage risks as well as optimize the value of new technologies. But this must be complemented by soft skills such as customer engagement and empathy. Therefore, the industry will need a new approach to talent management and to its core business to gain value from cultivating these new capabilities.
The power of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Data, Internet of Things (IoT), and Blockchain
- AI/ML – With the continuous improvement of machine learning algorithms, underwriters are bringing in more information to better gauge risks and offer tailored mid-premium pricing for insurance products. Likewise, AI is becoming more deeply integrated and empowering insurers to position themselves more strategically to respond to the evolving business landscape.
Insurance executives must understand the factors that contribute to the change and the role of AI in reshaping pricing, underwriting, and claims distribution. With this knowledge and understanding, they can start building relevant skills while also embracing emerging technologies to create a culture for a robust and successful insurance industry.
- Open architecture – Open APIs are published on the internet and shared freely, allowing the owner of a network-accessible service to give universal access to consumers. Many insurance companies are taking steps to use the APIs. Now the focus is on opening APIs to provide, improve, and enhance services to policyholders. Though some call it “connected insurance,” open APIs are all about finding common ground to share data that drives value. The use of APIs presents many opportunities in insurtech and fintech companies for product and technology innovation.
- Blockchain – Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin can also be used in the insurance industry. Decentralized finance, commonly referred to as De-Fi, uses cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to manage financial transactions. All of this is part of the Web 3.0 movement, which seeks to democratize finance by replacing legacy and centralized institutions with peer-to-peer relationships capable of providing a full spectrum of financial services.
Moreover, blockchain might be used in the insurance industry to verify insurance policies and medical records, while smart contracts might allow insurers to access customer data based on their preferences.
In conclusion, insurtech is here to stay and is poised to empower customers and insurers. The rapid digitalization of the insurance industry is a testament to the power of insurtech. Despite the complexities, the benefits are immeasurable and sustainable, thus making insurtechs a powerful force to reckon with in the future.