"Insurance is approaching its 'Kodak' moment," said Mr George Kesselman, founder of InsurTech Asia, a vehicle created to drive positive impact through the much needed changes in insurance, focused on Asia. "Change is coming and it's coming quickly."
Speaking on the first day yesterday at the inaugural Asia InsurTech Summit in Singapore, Mr Kesselman opened the day’s proceedings by urging the insurance industry to not let tradition block the future of the industry or otherwise it would go the way of Kodak or the London taxi service. While it is an accepted fact that InsurTech start-ups will lead the way in innovation and finding the value proposition to the customer, the incumbent insurer is still vital to the future success of the industry.
Collaboration is key, he said. “When you partner up with each other, you can drive towards the positive change you’re aiming for, but which you can’t achieve on your own.”
However, he also admitted that such partnerships will be complex, as most start-ups, with their blend of new technology and innovation will not comfortably fit into traditional players' standard corporate classifications. “They aren’t just IT vendors,” he said.
Expectations are rising
As users become increasingly comfortable and dependent on digital technology, certain expectations are formed, for products and service providers to be engaging, instant and always available. Those same expectations are laid at the feet of the insurer, said Mr Jeffrey Worthington, Senior Solutions Architect of Digital Customer Engagement at ConVista Consulting.
“Right now, there are millions of dollars being invested in InsurTech start-ups all around the world,” he said. “With that much money involved, there will be losers,”
Those losers, according to Mr Worthington, are the companies who only dabble in technology, or those who only execute a low-hanging fruit business plan, or worse, those who refuse to engage in digital at all, believing it to be just a fad.
“Execute a comprehensive digital strategy, or implement a digital front office strategy,” he advised. “But at the same time, don’t let your InsurTech efforts become your new one-off silo,”
Complementary, not competition
“The vast number of start-ups are not competitors, but are complementary to the industry,” said Mr Juergen Weiss, Managing VP of Global Insurance Industry Research at Gartner.
Engaging with the customer is currently the industry’s biggest challenge, he said, and the customer finds it hard to recognise the value proposition of insurance. “The vast majority of insurers are having real challenges innovating, but they can learn from the start-ups. They are really good at constantly pivoting their value proposition, in innovating and bringing new solutions to the table. There is lots of room for collaboration.”
The 1st Asia Insurtech Summit is attended by over 170 delegates from 22 countries. The two-day event is organised by the Asia Insurance Review, with InsurTech Asia as its exclusive partner and supported by International Insurance Society and the Life Insurance Association of Singapore.