Members work on laptop computers in a common room at the Embarcadero WeWork Cos Inc. offices in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. WeWork has focused its attention on Asia since 2016 with the opening of its first facility in Shanghai amid booming demand for flexible work spaces. Photographer: Michael Short/Bloomberg
What a wild year for insurance -- or insurtech -- or whatever you want to call it! 2018 will surely be remembered as a banner year for the industry's transformation agenda. Carriers big and small, across lines of business, rolled out all sorts of next-generation technologies with the aim of getting the best ever-elusive customer experience. And money flowed into insurtech, with more than 15 investement rounds of more than $40 million dollars going to some leading startups. I had a great year reporting on this industry, and I hope you had an equally exciting one living in it. Let's relive some of the biggest moments together.
Jeff Bezos, chief executive officer of Amazon.com Inc., introduces the Kindle Fire HD tablets at a news conference in Santa Monica, California, U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012. Amazon.com Inc. is updating its line of Kindle e-readers and tablets in a bid to stoke consumer demand as Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. join the crowded market of machines challenging Apple Inc.’s iPad. Photographer: Patrick Fallon/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Jeff Bezos

Report: Amazon plans to become insurance agent

Amazon's plans to enter the insurance industry was one of the most intriguing developments of 2018. While some of the biggest stateside predictions have yet to pass, the company's work with the Indian insurtech Acko led to its filing to serve as an insurance agent in that country. Article link
Uber office

Will we meet the true Uber of insurance in 2018?

My outlook blog entering this year focused on how Uber is viewed as a disruptor to the legacy business of taxicabs, but it hasn't grown just by stealing marketshare: It has also opened new markets for on-demand rides. Did we meet an insurance analogue this year? In my estimation, not really. But there are a number of interesting contenders. Maybe 2019 is the year. Article link

How Travelers is reinventing homeowners' insurance with data

Travelers ramped up investments in both self-service digital platforms and the smart home, with the goals of gathering more customer data, expediting payments and educating policyholders on best home-maintenance practices. Article link

Inside USAA's claims innovation team

In February, USAA launched a 21-member claims innovation team with the goal of gaining competitive advantage for the insurer by digitizing various aspects of its claims operations. Article link

How MetLife will ramp up digital innovation in 2018

Leading the company's transformation efforts is chief digital officer Greg Baxter, who joined MetLife in summer 2017 after holding a similar position at Citi. Baxter says that the company is looking to reinvent itself as customer-centric, which means it has to transform holistically and change how it's traditionally looked at practice areas.

MassMutual and Liberty Mutual take the 'lab' concept to the next level

Carriers are exploring several avenues to spur innovation, including the launch of in-house labs intended to leverage new technologies and optimize policy distribution, claims and underwriting. These labs have grown in stature in recent years, helping carriers create viable areas of expertise in specific technology verticals, such as data science, mobility and the Internet of Things, as they build out capabilities addressing core business problems. Article link
Signage is displayed outside Allstate Corp. campus in Northbrook, Illinois, U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. Allstate Corp. is scheduled to release earning figures on February 1. Photographer: Christopher Dilts/Bloomberg

Allstate and Nationwide among insurers using public data sources in fraud detection

The insurance industry is looking to digital technology to help lower claims costs in several ways, and that includes new approaches to fraud fighting. Policyholder fraud continues to be a leading cause of incurred underwriting losses annually in the U.S. And carriers are now ramping up detection efforts to fight back. Article link

State Farm launches venture fund, partners with IBM Watson

State Farm is moving forward with several digital initiatives as the largest personal lines P&C insurer in the U.S. by market share rides the digitalization wave shaking up the industry. The company has launched a $100 million fund, State Farm Ventures, with the goal of increasing its involvement in and adoption of insurtech. Led by innovation executive Michael Remmes, the unit will focus on "acquiring startups or strategic alliances that support our core products," says spokesperson Angie Harrier. Article link

Liberty Mutual pilots home-management platform for property owners

Liberty Mutual is piloting a new home insurance tool, Dwellbeing, designed to help homeowners maintain the infrastructure of their property and reduce claims. The platform, currently available to only a selected group of customers, offers a customized website where users can manage heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, plumbing, common house appliances and home safety gadgets. The technology does rely on self-input information from customers to work, but automatically sends mobile notifications to homeowners when maintenance tasks are required. Article link
A Braintree Technologies Sdn. drone hovers during a pesticide aerial spraying demonstration at a palm plantation in the Universiti Putra Malaysia Research Centre in Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia on Friday, May 12, 2017. The tropical tree fruit that yields palm oil is harvested mostly by hand and in dangerous conditions that lead to a lot of waste. In Malaysia, where about $1.2 billion of oil may be left in the field this year, the industry is working on new technologies like electric cutting machines and pesticide-delivering drones to boost output. Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg

How Chubb is utilizing drones, AI and blockchain for data analytics

Drones, artificial intelligence and blockchain are top of mind for Chubb Insurance in modernizing company efforts around underwriting and claims management, according to Puneet Bhardwaj, SVP of digital analytics. Article link