There’s been a breakthrough in innovation in the insurance industry, according to Strategy Meets Action (SMA). In its second annual “Innovation in Insurance” report, the research and consulting firm said that while in 2012 insurers were beginning to establish collaborative environments and nurture a culture of innovation within their firms, now almost all insurers (87 percent) in its research have some form of innovation underway. And 20 percent say they have a strong innovation culture in place.

What has not changed since last year is what’s driving innovation. The 80 research participants identified competing more effectively, enabling growth and providing great service to customers as some of the top business drivers for innovation, according to the report.

Participants also identified the three areas of the business that are considered to be the most innovative today: marketing, new business/underwriting, and product development, in that order.

“True marketing goes beyond campaigns to identifying new market opportunities and segments, planning for how to improve the customer experience, proposing new or changed products, and considering the impact of changes to distribution models and service approaches,” the report states. “Product development is an area of increasing importance in insurance. For life and annuity companies, product innovation is central to maintaining the advantage in a fast-moving market. As investment opportunities, tax laws and customer needs continually evolve, the L&A insurers that are able to produce the most innovative products and get them to market quickly will win. Property/casualty has traditionally moved more slowly regarding new/changed products, but recent market and competitive conditions are resulting in a big focus on generating new and different products in the marketplace (such as usage-based insurance).”

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