Back to the future: What will the next 10 years hold for the insurance industry?

Tony Tarquini, industry principal, Insurance at Pegasystems, looks into his crystal ball and explores how the next generation of insurance customers think technology will affect them in the coming decad.

To many of us, when we’re asked to think back to the way we lived our lives ten years ago, it feels like it was only yesterday. However, while the old saying is true, and time really does fly when you’re having fun, the fact remains that the world of 2005 was actually a very different one to that of today.

Perhaps the best example of this is a comparison of the technological capabilities available within the two periods. It’s strange to think, but ten years ago there was no such thing as a smartphone or a tablet device, wearable technology was a feat that could only be made possible by taping your mobile phone to your wrist, and superfast broadband was nothing more than a glint in a service provider’s eye.

Fast forward to the present day, and we live in a world dominated by relentless technological evolution. Today we think nothing of the fact that each of us carries around what is, effectively, a streamlined supercomputer in our pockets, or the extent to which the data these devices – and others like them – produce can play a significant role in how we live our lives.

The impact this data has had on the insurance industry in particular is well documented, and it’s clear that it’s already helping insurers to tailor premiums and products in direct relation to customer behaviour and preferences.

But what will the next ten years hold, as the technological revolution continues to gather speed? Moreover, what could it mean for insurance companies and the customers of tomorrow?

A recent study by Capgemini and Pegasystems has been designed, in part, to speak to this next generation of customers and ask them what they think will be the most important technological breakthroughs during the next ten years, and how it will affect them in terms of their insurance premiums.

‘Millennials’ (UK residents aged between 18 and 34) are today’s heaviest technology users and adopters of new tools and ideas, which makes them ideally placed to give a perspective on how they see this evolution taking place, and what it will mean for them. Commentators from all generations can easily predict what is needed at a high level.

However, the devil is in the detail and identifying what works and what needs to be done, is the bit which will maximise value, for all concerned. Perhaps one of the most revealing things to emerge from these conversations was the detail around the extent to which many see technology as a direct enabler for them when it comes to them and their relationship with insurers.

A good example of this is the fact that almost half of those surveyed (46%) believed that by 2025, their passports will contain detailed digital information that not only records what countries we go to, but also specific places within these countries that we visit.

Imagine the possibilities that this alone could have for the insurance industry; insurers could, as an example, offer premiums on travel insurance that rely on up-to-the minute information on a specific region’s crime rate, weather patterns or even the number of claims that have been made at any given time. Dynamically adjusting premiums and danger alerts could both be a realistic possibility within the next few years.

It’s clear that the next generation of insurance customers see technological evolution not only as a natural process, but also as something that could, and perhaps even should, play a critical role in their lives as they themselves grow older.

A great illustration of this is that almost a quarter (21%) of younger Millennials between the ages of 18 and 24 said that they felt that drones should be used by insurance companies to process claims in the next ten years – a thought that would have been unthinkable as recently as a couple of years ago.

It’s also worth considering the extent to which technology, as it continues to evolve, can be utilised by insurers indirectly to inform them and the way in which they deal with customers. For example, half (49%) of the respondents to this study who indicated that they would be willing to wear ‘smart clothes’, said that they would use them for NFC services provided by retailers or transport providers.

Similarly, more than a third (36%) of those who answered that they would be willing to go a step further and wear ‘smart skin patches or tattoos’ said that they would prefer to use them as a means of personal authentication such as a laptop password.

Whether or not widespread adoption of such ‘smart’ technology could be seen as a potential security risk that results in higher premiums would depend to a large extent on how such technology is implemented and rolled out.

However, one thing is clear; technological change will continue to alter the way consumers operate over the next ten years. Whether this means gathering data directly from customers to prepare tailored premiums, or evaluating their use of technology to conduct a risk assessment, it’s clear that it will be imperative for insurers to get on board the technological bandwagon and adapt to these changes as they occur.

The biggest threat for any organisation in a relatively conservative industry like insurance is to see it as a threat, or a problem that will require a large investment in complex infrastructure to solve.

The truth of the matter is that technology must be seen as an enabler for insurers just as much as it is for the Millennial customers of tomorrow. It can present them with an opportunity to better understand their customers, anticipate their problems and engage with them in ways that offer them real value.

Moreover, if insurers do not recognise the value of technology, and the way it can help them, they run the risk of being left far behind not only their competitors, but also the expectations and demands of their customers.

Many will point to the cost involved in investing in complex technology that, because of the nature of technological evolution, becomes obsolete before you see any true return on investment.

Although this might once have been true, today’s technological landscape is different. The truth is that if you commit your organisation to a process-driven architecture that is agile and flexible enough to adapt to the speed in which technology evolves, investment in technology needn’t involve a costly, difficult implementation at all.

Of course, time flies when you’re having fun, and before we know it, 2025 will roll around – no doubt when it does, we’ll all be travelling around using jet-packs, flying cars and hoverboards, while robot servants do our bidding.

It will nonetheless be extremely interesting to see whether insurers will find by then that by embracing technology, and by using it to understand and engage with their customers and their behaviour, they could end up saving significant amount of money for themselves – all while making a healthy profit to boot!

Source: information-age.com