- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Pilots on the Disruption Path

The 2017 Insurance-Canada Technology Conference and The 2017 Broker Forum, have now come and gone. But their impacts remain. Over the next few weeks, I will reflect back on key elements.

To the best of my knowledge, the first and the last speaker didn’t spend much time comparing notes. Yet these two were complementary pilots for a content-rich, 10-hour journey.

Encircling the wagons…

Craig Haney, Head of Corporate Innovation at Communitech, provided our keynote. (Communitech, located in Kitchener Ontario, was founded by entrepreneurs in 1997 to help start up and grow tech companies. It is known world-wide as a leader in the innovation game.)

Although insurance is but one vertical at Communitech, it is increasing in importance and activity. Haney cited one startup – Encircle – which developed tools that allow insureds to capture and transmit photos and videos in a claims situation.

For policyholders, this speeds up the process, reduces bureaucracy, and provides opportunities for greater empathy. What is normally a 5-7 day cycle is being reduced to hours or minutes to complete the process and effect payment.

George Halkoitis, SVP Claims at Northbridge, says “Encircle is a game-changer.”

Tell me about the Hippo, Dad …

Haney’s innovation mandate is focused on small start-ups like Encircle, but also large organizations. To show how these organizations can innovate, Haney has conceived the ‘Nimble Hippo,’ which epitomizes five principles of innovation:

  • Big – They operate at scale;
  • Smart – They leverage what they have, change what they need to;
  • Curious – They seek to learn what they don’t know;
  • Partner – They look to engage ecosystems different than they are;
  • Cool – They are talent magnets.

Large organizations can innovate, but Haney warns that this must include experimentation, not just educated guesses and be prepared to get really good at identifying problems and moving fast, executing and experimenting simultaneously.

Now where do we go…

The end of the day belonged to Andrew Lo, President and COO at Kanetix. He looked to the future and described general 6 trends and the implications for insurance:

  • The generation gap is going to disappear. While Millennials and Gen Z are not influenced much by the past, even boomers are moving quickly to fully digital tools and experiences.
  • 4th Generation connectivity is ample for people to people connectivity, but insufficient for the connectivity of things (e.g., autonomous vehicles and operational Artificial Intelligence). However, 5th Generation will be driving 50 billion devices. One result: Consumers will be demanding bespoke premiums based on usage.
  • Tech is becoming so intuitive that it can be used without any training. This will trend towards voince computing which will result in 0 friction.
  • Influence Marketing will become the predominant tool. Word of mouth will trump (lower case) other forms and pivot away from linear mass campaigns.
  • The world becomes a classroom. This democratizes access to information and specialist teachers. It could also provide a platform for ‘Insurance Lookup’ to allow customer control over product.
  • Life Hacking. The culture of entrepreneurship will develop, with expected failures. To fill the gaps, mini-incubators with coaches will become available.

Lo advised that the current insurance business model will be challenged by external sources. As an example, he reminds us that Tesla is offering automobile insurance bundled with the vehicle in Australia and elsewhere.