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A digital shift necessary for insurers


Alain Castonguay

15-April-2019 09:30

Photo : Freepik

Insurers no longer have the choice to make the shift to digital, as customers require the same experience for their other forms of consumption. During a debate at the conference Insurtech Quebec last week, it was attempted to measure the impact of this change on the practices of the insurers.

The debate in the closing session of the day was moderated by Felix Martineau, who works in business development and consulting service at IBM Canada.

According to Benjamin VonEuw, leader of the center for innovation at iA Financial Group, the impact of the transition to digital is generalized to all industries, all sectors and at different levels. Companies in telecommunications, have had to put in 20 years ago, the banks 10 years ago, but for insurers, it still remains a relatively new phenomenon. “In general insurance, the life cycle is a little faster, then we can more easily innovate and bring changes,” he says.

In personal insurance, which is the main part of the business at iA, the life cycle is much longer, adds Mr. VonEuw. Some parts of the claims process can be digitized, but the direct contact with a person should be maintained. As a result, the impact varies, and the balance must be maintained at all times, he insists.

Changes are easy to implement

Philippe Gosselin, director of innovation, strategy, partnership and strategic innovation at Desjardins general insurance Group, has been at the forefront of several innovations in his company, of which the main one is Ajusto. Just like his colleague ai, he recognizes that changes are easier to implement in terms of damage insurance with the renewal of regular fonts.

Frédérique Leclerc, vice-president, marketing and digital strategies at The Capital financial Group, also notes that the impacts vary depending on the mode of distribution of the products, without any intermediary, with the agent or the brokerage network.

Eric Benoit, vice-president of engineering, innovation and information technology (IT) at SSQ Assurances, considers that the changes mainly influence the practices in the information technology used to distribute products and to manage claims.

According to him, two major currents have impacts that are as yet difficult to measure : 1) the use of data by the use of artificial intelligence, even if we know that in some market segments, we arrive already to exploit the potential of the algorithms ; 2) the use of the cloud to store the data, with the difficulties of integration and interdependency of systems.

A process by stages

All insurers need to invest to ensure the sustainability of their business model, adds Frédérique Leclerc. The approaches vary according to objectives specific to each company. For example, the Company has created an insurance product in direct mode with Sonnetin a digital environment.

There are steps to take to accomplish the transition to digital, highlights Benjamin VonEuw. It is certainly easier for a fledgling business to make the shift to an insurer the classical legacy systems were designed several years ago, even a few decades in some cases.

“We need to know where we part, know the things that can change quickly, and put the pieces in the right order to get there. Use artificial intelligence, when we don’t have the data, it is a little more difficult, ” he says.

Maintain profitability

Philippe Gosselin recalls that the insurer must carry out these changes while maintaining its profitability. When the profit margin of a product is thin, then there is advantage to scanning at the maximum of the business process. “Allow the transfer of pictures in auto insurance, it avoids visits to the body shop “, quote there as an example.

Customer expectations have been altered due to changes in other trade sectors, ” he stressed. Once, buying a plane ticket was a complex undertaking and it was necessary to keep the many carbon copies. The process is much easier today, and this simplicity creates expectations among the clients for all other services.

The insurer will find a way to correct as soon as the shooting in the area of customer service will get an edge on the competition in a way that is undeniable. In damage insurance, there will be new players in the next five to ten years, and some insurers will eject from the market, he adds. The customer likes to wait at the end of the wire. “This need, I don’t think we responded very well today, we had to delay it,” said Mr. Gosselin.

The problem before the solution

Philippe Gosselin recalls that in the field of technology, it sometimes happens that one gives through the ” falling in love with a technology, and not with a problem. You can have the best technological solution, but if it does not solve a problem, what is this ? It is a common error, one does it all, I’ve done even six months ago, ” he says.

He gives the example of the blockchain : “I have not yet found what the real problem is that this allows you to adjust. There are certainly, but in my insurance business, I don’t see it yet, so I’m not running after it, ” he says. It is necessary to arrive to isolate the ambient noise that comes with the fashion trends, suggested Mr. Gosselin.

The pressure to the simplification of the business processes increases, note Frédérique Leclerc. According to it, the good reflex is to listen to the expectations of the clients and find the tools which will add value to the service offer, both for the customer and the insurer. It is necessary to make good choices, recognize it, because the means are not unlimited.

Félix Martineau stresses that it is impossible to attend a conference in this area without ” breaking the ears by the example of the Lemonade, which paid a claim in three seconds “.

Eric Benoit does not see the utility of trying to replicate the model of Lemonade, of which the results are not as vivid, ” he stressed. In the past, insurers were not bad all. Increasingly, they are trying to differentiate themselves from their competitors, particularly by the digital tools. Needs change, and there is more than one customer, then it is thus necessary to diversify the supply of service to meet the needs of all clients. “The important thing is to have a good game plan,” he said.

Data and privacy

Eric Benoit acknowledges that all insurers can make progress in the usability of their system, both for the distribution network to the customer for direct insurance.

The connected objects provide a tremendous amount of data, ” stresses Philippe Gosselin, and the social demand is not always clear in terms of respect of privacy. In this regard, it notes that public opinion has evolved a lot these last few months. “I don’t want that Guy Cormier is required to give an interview to RDI because of me,” he says. We must listen to the demand of society and be a corporate citizen copy, he adds.

Benjamin VonEuw stresses the need to reconcile the expectations of customers and the new regulatory framework resulting from the act 141 and compliance requirements.

Frédérique Leclerc reiterated that customers ‘ expectations are evolving. She has been working to modernize the digital platforms of The Capital, and the watchword is simplicity.

At DGIG, the new dada Philippe Gosselin is the use of public data and mapping. “We think we can resolve many issues by better exploiting these resources,” he says.

Eric Benoit admits to having an obsession for improving the transaction process and insurance. “The heaviness, this is not a good thing, and in the world in which we live, it can no longer be tolerated,” he concludes.

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