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23 Hours of InsurTech

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Last week, we had a 23-hour opportunity to take stock in our readiness for the digital incarnation of insurance. As that time passed, we found some answers — and many more interesting questions. So we’re planning to do it again with a larger team of experts.

Setting the pace and the place setting …

Matteo Carbone, Founder and Director of the Connected Insurance Observatory, took time out from his incredibly busy schedule to visit with selected insurers, brokers, and suppliers in Toronto.  Carbone was preparing for his session at the 2017 Insurance-Canada.ca Executive Forum, and wanted to get a better understanding of the Canadian P&C insurance ecosystem.

Matteo had just enough time to drop his bags of at the hotel and off we went to dinner with my two partners and two colleagues.

The food was good and the discussion better.  Matteo shared some of his core experience.  Italy has the highest penetration of telematics-enabled usage based insurance in the world.  And Carbone – based in Milan – has been working with insurers for well over a decade.

In addition to using the telematics data for rating, several European insurers are using telematics data to drive some unique marketing methods. For example, several insurers will rebate up to 50% of the cost of fuel if the driver stays within safe driving parameters.

Our colleagues provided detail on innovations and nuances being driven in the Canadian environment.  These included new methods for life insurance underwriting and the continuing challenges facing brokers and the digital innovations that allow independent distributors to add value for customers and insurer partners.

Digging digitally deeper

In the morning, we met with the core senior team at Sonnet. Michael Shostak, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer went into detail on the strategy and tactics that were put together to create a new customer experience by tightly binding product, marketing, sales, and service.

The result was the first digital-only interface for product acquisition.

We dropped in on Andrew Lo, President and COO at Kanetix.  In addition to showing tools that Kanetix supplies to, insurers, Lo reinforced a major factor in the  Canadian environment:  while independent brokers work with insurer partners on some technology projects, leading brokers also continue to develop and deploy their own technologies, some of which emulate direct marketers’ omni-channel services.

Voices from the industry

After surviving an Uber ride through multiple Toronto construction zones, we landed at our home for the afternoon, the Ryerson DMZ.  The DMZ is an incubator and accelerator.  It serves start-ups in a variety of industries, however, insurance has always had a prominent presence. (You can see an example at Start-ups, Incubators and Insurance: A Look Inside the DMZ.)

We had a briefing with several members of the insurance media, and then joined 15 senior practitioners – insurers, brokers – in a roundtable discussion on the present and future of InsurTech.

Carbone helped set the stage by describing his view that ‘The future of Insurance is InsurTech.’ One key point that drove discussion was external disruption, which could cause diminution of capital (e.g., if autonomous vehicles substantially reduce accidents, less capital is required to fund claims).

Some questioned the future of insurance.  However, our long-time friend, Greg Purdy posted a somewhat sanguine analysis on LinkedIn:

I think in this case I’m more optimistic then some. The changes that are occurring are definitely speeding up and forcing a reevaluation of how to conduct business, but there will always be a need for insurance as long as risk exists. Risk will come in new forms, some of which may require more capital than the current auto/property game we’re playing, we just don’t know. …

We got Carbone going in the direction of Billy Bishop Airport, 23 hours (just to the minute) after we first met in person.

And we’ll do it again …

It was an amazing deep dive into InsurTech, one that will be replicated on August 29th at ICEF2017, where Carbone will be joined by Mark Dowds, Co-Founder of Trōv, Craig Weber, CEO at Celent, and others.

You are invited.  Hope you can join us.

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