The top three drivers of commercial insurers' partnerships with insurtech are enterprise data and analytics, core modernization and customer experience, according to a new report from insurance tech analyst firm SMA.

For the "Insurtech and Commercial Lines: A Surge of Activity and New Implications" report, SMA founder Deb Smallwood and partner Mark Breading surveyed 87 commercial insurers, of all sizes, to find out their tech priorities around insurtech and the digital world. All 87 cited data and analytics as a driver. Slightly more than four in five were looking to modernize core with insurtech partners, and 89% said customer experience was a driver.

That dovetails nicely with SMA's research into more than 400 insurtechs targeting commercial lines, the company reports. New-breed core systems companies, firms focusing on the connected world and insurtechs looking at digital data and analytics each account for about a quarter of all insurtechs in the space, SMA found.

"The industry as a whole is much more open to partnering with external entities today," SMA's report says. "While there have always been partnerships in the distribution and claims areas, there is now a new push to partner with digital distribution startups and to look outside the traditional industry boundaries for partners."

Other priorities of note for commercial insurers include innovation and R&D, developing new products and service, and expanding to new customer segments and channels.

"New data and better insights for underwriting, real-time loss control, and proactive customer service are just a few ways that commercial insurers can assist customers to mitigate risk," SMA writes.

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