A new survey by Ireland-based Accenture finds insurers shifting their spending priorities to buttress multi-channel distribution and employ mobile technologies.

The study, which queried senior executives at 125 life and property/casualty carriers around the globe, estimates that insurers plan to invest $84 million, on average, over the next three years to improve their technology underpinnings. Indeed, the emergence of new technologies was the most widely cited factor (85 %) by insurers for making decisions to invest in distribution over the next three years, followed closely by changes in customer needs and attitudes (84 %).

Michael Costonis, executive director of Accenture's Insurance practice in North America, said as other industries raise the bar on customer service, insures need to develop a distribution strategy that capitalizes on the strengths of each respective channel. "Insurers are starting to realize that their products should be bought and not just sold,” he said. “To do this they need to truly understand their customers, and to achieve a level of segmentation that is indispensable for moving from a product-centric to a solution-centric business model. The objective is to create a unique customer experience across all channels."

The study also highlighted the ground that insurers need to make up when it comes to mobility. While, 63% of respondents said that all services—including quoting, underwriting, billing, claims declaration and account management—will be available online within the next three years, only 21% will have these services available on mobile devices within that time.

"Increasing investment in mobile capabilities—to take advantage of the growing use of smart phones—and in digital marketing, to create new opportunities to influence customer choice, is necessary, but not sufficient in today's environment," said Serge Callet, global managing director of Accenture's Insurance practice.

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