How will COVID-19 reshape existing technology and processes in insurance?

COVID-19 has no doubt opened our eyes and forced us to rethink the way we operate and how we have to pivot quickly to conducting business virtually. Previous questions like ‘why should this be digitised?’ have now become ‘how can we digitise this as soon as possible?’.

Insurers have had to learn new skills, behaviours, technology, processes and customer interaction methods on the fly, placing tremendous pressure on them to handle learning all these new skills in a way that ensures they don’t fall over. However, insurance has been a very resilient industry – adapting and overcoming every hurdle it meets; and it will continue to do so in the face of these unprecedented circumstances. 

As Bob and Winnie have outlined previously, the actual demand for insurance products will maintain if not increase, as an impactful event like COVID-19 means that the insurance industry becomes even more vital in the eyes of customers. The key challenge is actually making sure that the industry can continue to adapt rapidly to ensure that it keeps up with the changing behaviours COVID-19 is bringing.  

Changing technology trends in insurance

Obviously, the work-from-home policy means that the need for remote working and internal collaboration tools have increased across many insurance companies. Aside from witnessing an increased demand for these productivity tools, we’re also witnessing a large demand for:

  • Co-browsing and video sales tools that enable agents and brokers interact directly with customers to talk about and sell new or existing products
  • Customer engagement tools that enable insurers to interact with their customers via social media, email or text
  • Product configuration and creation tools that enable quicker launches of new products or product repricing to adapt to changing market conditions

Beside the fact that we’re seeing a shift in demand for these new platforms and tools that fundamentally transform the way insurers develop, sell and engage, we believe we’ll see an increase in the number of in-app programs that exist on-platform such as WeChat Mini Program that enhances customer engagement as well as agent recruitment, training and communication. 

What are the strategic technological implications that lie ahead for insurers?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the construct of many insurers’ technology stacks was fairly conservative and traditional – usually they involve a core policy administration platform, an underwriting solution, a finance/actuarial system and some form of digital solution for intermediaries plus some direct processes for claims and new products. 

Some of these will still remain core, however, insurers may need to think about redesigning and developing them in a different way to meet the changing requirements and demands of the future. Some questions for insurers to think about include:

  1. Policy administration – how can we externalize product, financial and pricing logic and rules away from legacy systems much quicker than we have done to date?
  2. Underwriting solutions – what new rules and data sources do we need to ingest into our solutions to align with changing macro factors?
  3. Actuarial and finance – how can we get more real-time views of our product and pricing portfolio and understand all the sensitivities end-to-end?
  4. Digital solutions – how can we create more front-end driven microservices that can make new capabilities such as co-browsing, process configuration and digital identity verification released easily and quickly?

Having large workforces and sales teams won’t guarantee success as it used to in the past – those who are the most technologically efficient will achieve higher growth potentials across the industry. These kinds of questions may be challenging to solve, however, those who start tackling challenges today will likely be the winners in the post COVID-19 world.