Insurers take lead from customers in developing digital strategy

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To achieve success from digital initiatives, insurance companies need to listen closely to what their customers want and be ready to identify the winning solutions in the marketplace for delivering that experience. That's according to leaders from AIG, Farmers and more who spoke at the Insurtech Connect conference in Las Vegas.

Mariel Devesa, head of corporate development and innovation for Farmers, says that her company and many others are looking to identify the pain points in customers' lives that traditional insurance products have missed. She cited her company's introduction of ridesharing coverage for cetain drivers as an example.

"It's not [just] about preventing an incident, it's about how do we serve that customer, she says. "How do you create more touchpoints during the experience, create that retention value and add value?"

A major question facing insurers is how they develop the ecosystem to deliver the right experience and products for customers. Panelists were quick to note that while distribution is often targeted as a place for digital overhauls, insurance agents are still playing key roles in more bespoke lines of business. Not all business lines are as commoditized as personal auto, the speakers noted, and part of delivering the best experience is in making sure the customer walks away with the coverage they want -- a key role for an advisor.

"It's not simply that the insurance companiess are getting digitally enabled, the intermediary is as well," says Gaurav Garg, CEO of personal insurance for AIG. "Their value is getting much more enhanced."

When agents share in the digital revolution, they are able to provide valuable feedback to insurers that can be used to continually refine the product mix and value-added services insurers need to deliver to stand out in a crowded market. They also serve a segment of the market that may not be comfortable, or be able to be served by, fully digital experiences.

"Some people take time during the day and enjoy those [personal] interactions," says Jamie Hale, CEO of the life insurance insurtech Ladder. "Forcing deep interactions where they don't want it can be a negative experience."

In addition to agents, the role of insurtechs in enabling carriers' digital transitions was discussed. Panelists agreed that insurtechs are valuable partners to bring into the fold, and that insurers need to identify the ones with "best in class" solutions.

"When companies with traditional insurance expertise partner with a startup, that's when you create speed to market," AIG's Garg says. "You take out frictional issues and it reduces your go-to-market dramatically."

The panel was moderated by EY's global insurance digital leader David Connolly.

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Customer experience Insurtech AIG Farmers Insurance