Hundreds of professionals, experts and thought leaders from across the insurance industry descended on the QEII Centre in London on 15th and 16th November for the UK Insurance Innovators Summit 2023.

Billed as the world’s most important insurance conference, it was two days packed full of insight, ideas, discussion, innovation and product demonstration. In attendance were colleagues from Assurant to absorb what was being served up, and also take part in panel discussions. Here’s a quick round-up of the thoughts and insight shared by the trio of Assurant panel guests…

First up on the Wednesday was Elliot Gradwell, Commercial Director for Connected Living, who was on a panel analysing and pondering over the topic; ‘The Changing Face of Distribution’ and how providers can keep pace with changing customer behaviour.

Elliot explained how customers are wanting to converse using modern channels such as WhatsApp, and Assurant is using this in regions where adoption is highest such as Latin America. He went on to explain that integrations with key partner distributors is vital for adoption and engagement in insurance products and cited examples of the UK Banks where Assurant has Single Sign On integrations in place, negating the need for repeat logins to platforms which enable customers to make a claim.  Elliot called out that customers are looking for more from their insurers and Assurant is extending services relating to the mobile phone insured. The example given was the offer of a trade-in value to help customers generate more value towards a new device or to subsidise the insurance premium.

Then on the Thursday it was the turn of Dave Jones, Product & Propositions Director, and Lee Sturgeon, UK Client Director.

First up, Dave Jones, was on a panel looking at how providers can influence consumer behaviour through value added services and how insurers can move to become more of a lifetime partner.

Dave called out how at Assurant we do this by looking to engage with customers away from the typical touch points of policy inception and point of claim. Through Travel Insurance we can offer services like airport lounge access and fast-track security. Insurers need to show they are reliable and trustworthy so offering value added services like these support that and instill more consumer confidence with their brand.

The panelists were unanimous in how vital it is to deliver an exceptional service through achieving high Net Promotor Scores in order to get the ear of the customer.

Dave added an example for mobile network providers and how we can offer a welcome call for customers in helping them set up their new phone and other connected devices. This is worthwhile as it helps to reduce buyer remorse. We can also use our vast supply chain to support customers in getting high quality refurbished handsets when they’re ready to change their current device.

Other members of the panel shared interesting views. Krystian Zajac from Locket believed consumers do not view price as the most critical factor in deciding which provider to go with. Even in a cost of living crisis and some insurers increasing premiums as much as 40% increase, if providers include relevant added value services around the policy and customers are perceived to be receiving good value then they will remain loyal.

Dylan Bourguignon from so-sure called out it’s a noisy marketplace for insurers with everyone offering discounts which tend to be all the same. Consumers have little time and little money so it’s imperative providers offer something different to make them stand out.

Questions from the audience looked at the use of data and how this can be used to the benefit of providers and customers. Dave stressed that the customer should always be the main benefactor of the data knowledge. Providers need to build a team of experts who can understand and apply the data correctly. Combining this with continual market research is now more important than ever particularly with providers needing to demonstrate ongoing compliance with the FCA's Consumer Duty initiative.

It also comes back to the issue of consumer trust. If consumers don’t trust providers then they won’t want to willingly share data.

Finally there was a question around gamification. Do people really want gamification or is it the industry trying to push the agenda? The response from panelists was if it can be engineered into the standard consumer journey, then people don’t see themselves as being gamified. Don’t use gamification for the sake of it. Only deliver initiatives that make the customer journey more pleasurable.

As part of the closing statement Dave was asked how many years could it be before value added services become agents of behavioural change? Dave believes it is happening already but likely to become more prevalent in 3-5 years and there is the challenge of insurers working on legacy systems which could hamper progress.

Straight on after Dave’s turn on stage, Lee Sturgeon participated in a discussion around the move to predict and prevent and how this could reinvent the relationship between providers and consumers.

Lee talked about how Assurant applies the predict and prevent ideology when it comes to mobile phone insurance and how this can drive more customer recognition with the value it provides. For example, we know that most incidents which lead to customers making a claim occur at weekends and during the summer months. To mitigate this, we proactively reach out to customers via our partners during these periods to provide useful information on how they can protect their devices.

As noted in previous discussions, there was a feeling that in general consumers can be distrustful of insurers, so they need to demonstrate value in a clear and concise way. The risk of successfully implementing predict and prevent initiatives is a starting position of low trust amongst consumers. The view shared by panelists was predict and prevent is just one approach providers should use to drive more loyalty and trust. Lee called out that environmental and sustainability considerations are now important for consumers so it’s crucial for providers to show this is high on their agenda.

The role of data was also heavily discussed once again and how the Internet of Things and customer willingness to share data is pivotal to predict and prevent. Lee talked about how mobile devices are an absolute goldmine when it comes to data. They can provide so much insight on an individual’s movements and behaviour. Based on this data, it could be that in the future providers insure the individual as opposed to the tangible product or item.

One of the biggest challenges facing providers is clearly articulating to customers  the benefits of sharing their data. This hasn’t really been achieved with any great success. To help achieve this faster, it could be more providers have to come together, working in partnership by sharing data to provide more wholesome services. An example given by panelist Ashok Krishnan from AXA XL was for cyber crime prevention. However it was flagged that this hinges on providers' willingness to share intellectual property and embed themselves in other ecosystems.

The role of value added services was put to the panel in the shift to predict and prevent. Lee stressed the importance of their ease-of-use and speed-of-use. He gave the example of Assurant’s Technical Support solution and assisting customers with all their connected devices around the home. To get the benefits of it, customers need to share their data. Likewise with our travel proposition, if the customer shares details of where they’re going to, we can offer valuable destination information which can make their trip more enjoyable. If the added value service is of close proximity to the core insurance product then customers will see the relevance and value. This is more key for the older demographic groups who may be weary of using more technology. Ashok Krishnan talked about the emerging group of older “new digital customers” who want to engage more with technology so there’s an opportunity for providers to capitalise on this.

For the closing thoughts, Lee said it is impossible to predict and prevent some events which lead to an insurance claim. It’s about trying to mitigate as much risk as possible. There will always be events we have to provide our product for and it’s vital to be reliable and trustworthy when consumers need that support. “Success is never final” is what we bear in mind at Assurant and demonstrates our passion for continuous improvement.

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