Slice Labs Case Study: New Economics at Work

Just published: a detailed case study on the first year of Slice Labs. (see @Celent_Research http://bit.ly/2pgJ65b ) This insurtech delivers a tailored insurance contract to sharing economy operators on a digital platform. Homeshare coverage is live in production in multiple states and rideshare was just released to pilot. The experience of Slice Labs provides a valuable benchmark against which insurers, insurance technology providers, and insurtech firms can measure their innovation efforts.

Truly disruptive insurance innovations are rare. Most insurtech propositions are service improvements for current products in existing markets.  Slice Labs is disruptive in that it targets an underserved customer niche with a proposition that involves changes to the core insurance product using new technology tools and development methods. The solution was delivered to pilot within one year at a predicted and managed cost within the limits of their initial capital raise. This combination of insurance expertise, new tech skills, and dev ops processes illustrates a new model for insurance development.

Some of the key lessons from the case study include:

  • A one-year timeframe and an accurately predicted investment delivered a minimum viable insurance product and IT platform. This low-cost threshold and speed challenge in-house insurance innovation approaches and argue for wider use of greenfield initiatives.
  • The effort and elapsed time necessary to identify a risk sharing partner are significant and should not be underestimated.
  • Affinity groups/communities of interest can create significant pull demand.

This model is repeatable. The challenge for incumbent insurers is to develop approaches which allow them to benefit from the new economics at work in insurance product development.

I like it when I am proved wrong (at least a little)

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending Celent's annual Innovation & Insight day in Boston. It was my third year and I can honestly say it gets better every year. The reason for the title of this blog post is simple. I recently published a report Why Are There No Drones in Life Insurance? In this report, I took the industry to task a bit for the lack of innovation, particularly in the Life insurance space. The fundamental position is that the industry is behind in technology investment and exciting new Insurtech investments are skewed towards P&C and Health and not Life.

Some of the key points of the report include:

  • The Life insurance industry still relies on aging back-end systems, with the age of many measured in decades. They have multiple, disparate systems, collected over the years, with a lack of coherent direction towards a single, modern system.
     
  • Life insurance is inherently risk adverse, leading to the gathering of huge amounts of information to price the product.
     
  • The process is still paper based on the majority of the issued policies.
     
  • New product innovation is stagnant.

I could go on, but you get the point.

While still true, it is easy to understand the complexities of a risk adverse industry, with contracts that can last 70 or more years.

What has me excited, and has at least proven me wrong a little, are the submissions and winners for our Model Insurer Awards. I have the pleasure, and honor, of reading them every year and am always impressed with the quality of the entrants. The judging process is always challenging, but even more so this year was the sheer volume of entries. We certainly want to recognize every submission, but had to choose a limited number of winners. What a tough job!

The life winners came from companies of all sizes, such as New York Life, Lincoln Life, CUNA Mutual, and AFLAC. (Full list of Winners) Life companies were represented across the categories, from Data Master and Analytics to Operational Excellence to a virtual dominance of the Digital and Omnichannel category.

Even more exciting was the number of entries that could have won, but were part of such a huge number of entries that we had to choose from unbelievable projects.

So my hat (if I wore one) is off to everyone that participated. Keep it up. Prove me wrong, over and over and over.

I can’t wait until next year.

One final comment: If you’re reading this and work for an insurer and are not a Celent client, drop me a note. I’d love to spend some time on the phone with you and share more insights. I’d even be happy to share the No Drones report, to give you an idea of our coverage. If you’re reading this and are a customer, then you have access to the report.

 

A Day to Celebrate: Celent 2017 Model Insurer Winners

Last April 4, Boston, a city surrounded by history of patriotism and independence, was witness of Celent Innovation and Insight Day (I&I day), an event in which 16 insurers were recognized as Model Insurers for their technological initiatives that, I’m sure, inspired more 280 professionals of the Financial Service industry by the efforts and ideas on how other insurers could implement them within their organizations.

Andrew Rear, chief executive of Munich Re Digital Partners was the Model Insurer keynote speaker. He discussed the role of Insuretech for large insurers and spoke of how these insurers could acquire agility, the pathway that they needed to choose, and more importantly, the risks they had to bear. He also discussed how Financial Services were redefining the way financial products are sold, delivered, and serviced.

No sensible website asks you for your email address anymore. They should know who you are by other means

~Andrew Rear

 

In the afternoon, our analysts participated in a series of debates focusing on the Internet of Things (IoT); Artificial Intelligence (AI); and Blockchain which was lively discussion. In between, Celent presented its Model Insurers for five categories and the Model Insurer of the Year.

Digital and Omnichannel

  • CUNA Mutual Group

The rapid development and launch of a simplified-issue term life insurance product that enables members to apply entirely online, answering only two health questions supported by a completely automated underwriting platform that delivers an instant decision in minutes.

  • Lincoln Financial Group

Lincoln Financial created a digital process to meet customer expectations of doing business, automate underwriting, reduce cycle time, and minimize human touch.

  • New York Life

The New York Life Portal initiative utilized digital connectivity and a ratings engine cloud-based platform to achieve a faster process and empower various actors across the organization.

To learn more of these Model Insurers, please read our report here.

Legacy and Ecosystem Transformation

  • Republic Indemnity

Republic Indemnity’s previous home-grown, legacy policy administration system was implemented in 1994 as a single state, Workers Compensation policy administration system. As the previous system could not issue multi-state policies and with the concern of technology obsolesce, Republic Indemnity looked for a new solution to replace its home-grown, legacy system.

  • ERS

Under new management, the business had to transform itself rapidly and replace 20-year-old technology. It had a major license renewal date in two years and would have been locked in by the vendor to a prohibitively expensive contract. It set about transforming claims first, and then policy with full data migration and scheme rationalization, all while growing the underlying gross written premium

  • Insurance Corporation of British Columbia

At the beginning of 2013, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) launched the Insurance Sales and Administration System (ISAS) policy transformation program. This was the last project in ICBC’s overall $400 million Transformation Program, which had already successfully replaced legacy claims systems and implemented a new Enterprise Data Warehouse and an enterprise service-oriented architecture.

To learn more of these Model Insurers, please read our report here.

Innovation and Emerging Technologies

  • Suramericana de Seguros S.A.- Wesura

Wesura (Sura) created a peer-to-peer Insurance platform around social networks. It develops private insurance communities so final users can share risk and underwrite people who wants to belong to the private community, the bigger the community the more benefits one can receive.

  • Church Mutual Insurance Company

Church Mutual Insurance Company has partnered with The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company (HSB), part of Munich Re, to provide temperature and water sensors connected to a 24/7 monitoring system. This innovative Internet of Things (IoT) technology solution is designed to alert customers to take action before damages and disruptions to their ministries can occur.

  • Markerstudy Insurance

Markerstudy launched VisionTrack in February 2016 to tackle the challenge insurers are facing with rising fraudulent motor claims and to help improve driver behavior.

To learn more of these Model Insurers, please read our report here.

Operational Excellence

  • Aflac

Aflac was in need of some modernizing and is still likely to undergo more change as the industry continues to capitalize on social, mobile, and wearables. In response, the Aflac IT Division implemented an Agile Transformation to its projects and processes to meet the changing needs of the customers.

  • Saxon

Saxon serves the Cayman island community. With a limited pool to hire from or sell product to, Saxon realized that to remain viable in the insurance market, it needed to employ technology to better serve the needs of its customers and grow the business.

  • MassMutual

MassMutual offers a Data Science Development Program (DSDP) in Amherst, MA that trains promising, recent graduates to become well-rounded data scientists over a period of three years. The program combines rigorous academic coursework and practical data science projects for MassMutual — a unique and valuable combination.

To learn more of these Model Insurers, please read our report here.

Data Analytics

  • The Savings Bank Life Insurance Company of Massachusetts

SBLI implemented an advanced risk assessment solution using predictive modeling and data analytics to help reduce cycle times, decrease dropout rates, and eliminate the need to pull fluids and conduct exams, while pricing policies more competitively, placing applicants into appropriate risk classes, and improving customer experience.

  • StarStone Specialty Insurance Company

The initiative is based on the implementation of analytics tools to measure and reduce risk. The solution uses data from internal and external sources. The data may be structured or unstructured. This tool helps underwriters make better decisions.

  • Meteo Protect

Although a broker, Meteo Protect gives clients a means to evaluate how climate variability contributes to their companies’ results by analyzing the relationship between each business activity and the weather. It couples this with a platform to price and underwrite fully customized index-based weather insurance, for any business anywhere in the world.

To learn more of these Model Insurers, please read our report here.

CSE, Model Insurer of the Year

In 2017, CSE has been awarded Model Insurer of the Year for its aspiration to achieve “the best product in the industry.” This meant they had to overcome legacy thinking and practices to re-think all the features including coverage, pricing, rules, process, and communications To do so, they sought inputs from customers and analyzed the market using two common analyses: 5 Cs and SWOT. From this point on, CSE assembled and adapted its core system.

To learn more of the Model Insurers of the Year, please read our report here.

The quality of the submissions this year is a clear indication the industry is turning a corner and embracing transformation, digital initiatives, innovation and valuing data analytics.  It is inspiring to see the positive results the insurers have achieved and a pleasure to recognize them as Model Insurers for their best practices in insurance technology.

How about your company? As you read this, are you thinking of an initiative in your company that should be recognized? We are always looking for good examples of the use of technology in insurance. Stay tuned for more information regarding 2018 Model Insurer nominations.

Why Not a Bot? Adjuster Bots for Connected Cars

We’re not quite there yet. But there is a path to get there—probably in only a few years.

We’re already at the point where fender bender claims can be estimated with a set of smart phone photos (offered by esurance and many other carriers)

But what more serious accidents which involve damage to a car’s mechanical systems? 

Here is one element of an Adjuster Bot solution: electonic control units, ECUs. For years, automobiles have been manufactured with dozens ECUs which control, monitor, and diagnose a broad away of systems within the vehicle, including its engine, power train, brakes, steering, airbags, electronic stability control. Information from ECUs can be accessed from vehicle’s On-board Diagnostic Port (OBD-II). The primary purpose of the OBD-II is to enable maintenance and repair of the various systems. (Telematics devices–aka dongles–plugged into the OBD-II port have been the primary method to gather and transmit telematics data to insurers.)

A second critical piece of the puzzle falls into place: communication. Automobile manufacturers are racing towards creating connected cars—typically using 3G or even 4G LTE cellular modems.

So this is what an automobile Adjuster Bot ecosystem would look like:

  • A cellular modem which tells the Adjuster Bot that an accident has occurred
    • And transmits data from ECUs describing the functional/non-functional status of major car systems
  • The AI-powered Adjuster Bot which, through deep learning, identifies the probability of repairing or replacing components within those systems; and which:
    • Alerts police and/or medical assistance as warranted (e.g. if airbags deployed)
    • Queries repair estimation and total loss systems
    • Integrates with the insurer’s Direct Repair Program
    • Creates an initial estimate of cost and time to repair
    • Presents a customized video to the driver, describing:
      • Arrival of tow trucks, transportation to a rental car facility, the split of insurer and policyholders financial responsibility; links to download a claimant app

Next up: Adjuster Bots for Connected Homes

Distribution Management – New Tools for Strategic Growth

Growth and retention continue to be the top business goals affecting IT investments. Many insurers are focusing on improving their distribution practices as a key technique for driving growth.  Designing, developing, maintaining and managing productive channel relationships can create a sustainable competitive advantage.

Almost every insurer we talk to is focusing on how to grow their book of business.  Some are using underwriting strategies, some are focusing on improving customer service, and others are looking at acquisition.  Virtually every insurer we talk to is also focusing on distribution management.  They’re looking at expanding channels, adding distributors, moving into new territories and working to expand their existing channel in order to improve customer acquisition and retention. 

These multiple channels are effective at targeting different aspects of the market, but add complexity when it comes to channel management. Additionally, the explosion of InsureTech startups carries with it the potential for channel disruption. However, a wide variety of issues creates difficulties for insurers when it comes to effectively managing the distribution channel.

As an insurer begins to focus on managing their distributors more strategically, many put resources towards managing their distributors more effectively in order to extract more revenue from them. Some insurers are focused on managing the compliance aspects of distribution management – assuring the distributors have the right licenses and that state appointments are made in a timely manner.  Others are focusing on using compensation tools and techniques to more effectively stimulate production. Still others are placing their priority on servicing high priority distribution channels and improving service to distributors.  They are utilizing increasingly complex segmentation schemes and tailored programs for preferred producers as a way to retain and grow business.

But in doing so, they often run into a common set of issues.   Standard processes and automation were designed for an environment that has long since passed, one that was much more stable and predictable. In a typical insurance environment today, multiple departments perform separate tasks in the cycle making coordination of activities and integration of information difficult. This is especially problematic since producer management involves large numbers of distributors, different types of distributors, a substantial volume of transactions and data from multiple sources. As insurers expand the number and types of distributors they work with, hierarchies become more complex to manage. This is compounded by multiple jurisdictions, multiple policy admin systems, and limited reporting and analytic tools.

These conditions result in multiple issues including poor service, a lack of insight into producer performance, unreliable data, and high support costs. The inability to link information means that distributors are managed on transactions instead of strategically. Compliance issues continue to plague insurers who find it difficult to monitor licenses and process appointments in a timely manner.

Distribution management systems provide tools and technologies to help insurers with the administrative aspects of distribution management. They are most typically used by insurers with a mixed distribution channel, multiple policy admin systems, multiple jurisdictions, complex compensation programs, or some combination of these factors.  These systems encompass a wide variety of administrative functions that are focused on operational issues such as registering and licensing producers, configuring compensation plans, administering payment and reconciliation, and tracking performance.  They provide tools and technologies to help insurers with the administrative aspects of distribution management.  They are most typically used by insurers with a mixed distribution channel, multiple policy admin systems, multiple jurisdictions, complex compensation programs, or some combination of these factors.

I’ve just published a new report Distribution Management System Vendors: North American Insurance 2017.   It describes what these solutions do and profiles 16 distribution management solutions that are relevant for property casualty and/or life and annuities.  There’s another report that covers all the global vendors as well.  Check it out – or send me a note if you’d like to talk about the report.  And keep your eyes on this space for an upcoming report – Reinventing Distribution – which will give tons of examples of cool stuff that insurers are doing to manage, enable, and shift their distribution channels. 

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