Just when it seemed like the insurance industry couldn’t possibly move any faster, insurtech is driving a sector-wide transformation equal to the deployment of the first mainframes or the launch of the first insurance website. Insurance companies are transitioning from a low-touch product that is sold through intermediaries to a multichannel experience that offers a wide range of value-added services.

It takes a unique set of skills to steer an organization through this level of change. Technology leaders need to understand the old world of insurance — specifically, how the risk-management model has worked traditionally. But they also need to understand the digital environment, especially the digitally fluent generations that require new kinds of coverages as they mature. Insurance was created in a world that predates today’s fuzzy personal and professional boundaries around auto use, for instance.

Dig-In's 2017 Women in Insurance Leadership honorees
Dig-In's 2017 Women in Insurance Leadership honorees

That’s what we’re recognizing with our Women in Insurance Leadership program, now in its 12th year. This year’s honorees represent a wide range of companies in terms of written premium and business line, but all of them are singularly focused on the transformative impact of digital.

Their achievements to this end are remarkable. When MetLife decided to spin off its retail life and annuities business, Kim Berwanger was tasked with building the entire IT infrastructure for the new company, Brighthouse Financial, from scratch. She chose to eschew the traditional methods of data management — massive and costly data centers — with the reinvented firm, in favor of a cloud-based, service-oriented structure that promises lower IT maintenance costs and easier integration with new underwriting engines that leverage big data, AI and more going forward.

CUNA Mutual’s Susan Sachatello came from the retail industry with a mandate to digitalize a life insurance product. She ended up launching a whole new brand.

On the property and casualty side, Allstate’s Ginger Purgatorio is staying on top of developments in connected-car technologies to help the insurer refine its usage-based insurance program, Drivewise. Purgatorio has been instrumental in integrating mobile with the program, identifying ways data can inform value-added services and switching the model from one of discounts to one based around miles driven.

The next few days will be dedicated to Women in Insurance Leadership. In addition to our winners’ profiles, which we will start posting today, we look at how women at insurtech companies are succeeding by turning their desire to make the insurance customer experience better through digital technologies into reality. We also catch up with some of our past winners, who are continuing to thrive in the new world of insurance. And we asked women who have worked in insurance technology how they sell their peers on the industry’s digital opportunities.

It’s a thrilling time for the industry, and I’m excited for our readers to meet the women who are leading the way into the next iteration of insurance.

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