Technology usage in the insurance industry has come a long way since the initial days of first-generation computers. Back then, computers made data collection and tabulation simpler – a great disruptive technology of the mid-1950s indeed!
The technological landscape since then has evolved leaps and bounds, with digitalization in insurance permeating almost every process. From policy pricing, claims management and customer service to underwriting and even risk analysis, technology has disrupted many key functions. Stats show that the power of digitization of insurance for a typical large auto insurer in The United States is a doubling of profitability over 5 years (McKinsey report). If that does not clinch the debate about the effect of new technology in disruptive insurance as we know it, nothing else will. Here is more on the technologies that are bringing in a revolution.
Disruptive Technology Definition
Disruptive technology is any new technology that completely displaces existing technology and revolutionizes the product or industry it is introduced in. It “disrupts” the regular course of functioning. For instance, computers replaced typewriters and changed the way data was stored. Harvard Business School professor Clayton M. Christensen coined the term in 1997.
A further McKinsey study from 2019 about digitization in insurance says that as disruptive technologies evolve even further, insurers may end up automating 50-60% of back-office operations.
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital disruption has been even more rapid as consumer demand for digitized services has shot up.
Disruptive technology examples in insurance
To remain relevant in a competitive industry, insurers have no choice but to adapt to the changing times. Take auto insurers for instance. Historically, auto insurers used indicators such as age, creditworthiness and past accident records of drivers to determine risk. Now, IoT technology, fitted into smartphones or the vehicle itself, allows insurers to directly monitor driver behavior. This has not only made real-time risk monitoring a possibility but has improved risk analysis in general and balanced pricing for US insurance carriers.
Other technologies, like automation and artificial intelligence, have helped many insurers save costs. In 2017, Japan’s Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance switched to AI technology and deployed 34 employees to other services, saving about $1.25 million in the first year of AI use.
Penetration of digital innovations across the insurance value chain
Technologies to watch out for
Going by the trends in the industry, there are four technologies to watch out for that are transforming the way the insurance industry functions and are likely to disrupt the sector even further in the coming years.
1. Big data and analytics
The most important asset for insurers is data. Insurance companies have to chew through hoards of consumer and commercial information to make important decisions. For an industry that is so heavily dependent on these data points, the rise of big data technologies has been a disruptive force. For instance, predictive analytics that uses big data can accurately compute pricing and risk selection, reduce underwriting costs, improve claims triage and even catch on to emerging trends.
A Willis Towers Watson survey among U.S. property and casualty insurers found that over 90% of those surveyed felt that predictive models had a positive impact on rate accuracy, loss ratios and profitability.
In the coming years, technology tools will grow more sophisticated to maximize the efficiency, speed and accuracy of big data outcomes. Personalized policies, targeted marketing and even fraud detection will be enhanced in ways never envisioned.
2. Machine learning, artificial intelligence and robotic process automation
Machine learning, artificial intelligence technology and robotic process automation are the most disruptive technologies in the insurance industry today. AI and machine learning allows computer systems to continuously learn and evolve. Not just that, their ability to closely mimic human capabilities, and do it more accurately, creates unimaginable opportunities for disruption in insurance.
AI and RPA have increased automation possibilities in claims processing in the P&C and employee insurance sectors. One example is the usage of machine learning algorithms for fraud detection to spot anomalies that even the most-trained humans could miss. More and more companies are adopting mobile-based AI technology for fraud surveillance and prevention, claims process and overall process efficiency.
Insurers have only just begun to scratch the surface of what ML, AI and RPA technology can do for the insurance process. We can only wait and watch to see what kind of transformations are in store using these technologies in future.
3. Data explosion from connected devices: IOT Technology
Internet of things or IoT technology refers to the network of interconnected, wireless objects that allow data transfer and processing without human intervention. Telematics is a branch of IoT that combines telecommunications and informatics that allow flow of information.
Combining these two technologies has been groundbreaking for the insurance industry. From GPS-enabled monitoring devices to wearables, IoT technology and telematics allow real-time risk monitoring that has been extremely useful for auto, P&C and even health insurers. For instance, John Hancock, one of the oldest North American life insurers, now sells interactive life insurance policies. In exchange for incentives like rewards and discounts, an insured’s health and fitness data are monitored through fitbits and smartphones. This ensures that customers are healthy, thereby reducing their chances of falling ill and therefore, lowering claims filed.
Telematics: Increasing opportunities in product innovation
IoT technology can be a game changer, completely transforming the disruptive technology meaning for insurers, especially in the personal insurance industry. Integrated technology can make data access more accurate and real-time, thereby improving the efficiency of the entire insurance process.
4. New IT architecture like blockchain
Changes to IT and data architecture can have a considerable impact on digitized insurance. For example, transitioning to cloud technology can enable efficient and cost-effective data storage.
Research indicates that 7 out of 10 insurers have adapted cloud technology for better speed, scalability and efficiency in handling insurance data.
Newer technologies like blockchain or distributed ledger technology also have immense potential in future. Some industry experts have compared the potential of blockchain technology to the internet in its ability to transform industrial practices. Blockchain in insurance can bring about greater security, fraud mitigation and efficiency for different insurance sectors. PwC estimates that blockchain technology can lead to $5-$10 billion in cost savings for reinsurers.
Digitization in insurance: Moving forward
Digital innovation and disruptive technologies like predictive analytics, AI and cloud computing are here to stay. In the years to come, as systems and things get even more connected digitally, insurers will have to break away from traditional legacy systems to wholeheartedly embrace digitized insurance.
A fully integrated enterprise insurance software, such as SimpleINSPIRE, provides the ability to leverage smart automation, AI/ML workflow and IoT technology. To begin on this process of modern digitization in insurance, speak to our AI experts, today.