- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

A Year-End Look Back On 2019

This was a very busy year, chock full of new developments in insurance. As the Intersection blog begins to wind down for the holiday season, we are taking stock of 2019 with the added clarity of hindsight and thinking back over some of the major topics we have touched on, including …

Climate Change

Especially through the second half of 2019, I heard increasingly about climate change. At first, the discussions looked to capture multiple impacts, with changing contacts and remediation. I began to realize that this was a set of unique insurance groups and took time to get more information. Scanning discussions on climate change, I found that the coverages and the size of claims are spread wide: some are straightforward; others are longer and more complex.

I posted about some of the basics in Climate Change and Impacts on Insurance. I believe that – with help, over time – we will come to a deeper understanding of the issue and how to mitigate its effects.

InsurTech: The Driver

In the past, small and mid-size brokers had the bare minimum of technology to support policies, claims, clients, etc. Some still carry on, using ancient technologies.

However, the last few years have brought interesting changes. Carriers are moving out of the IT arena and supporting brokers. In addition, many mid-size and large brokers and MGAs are also approaching brokers and end users to support smaller intermediaries.

An Accenture blog noted that brokers who hold onto traditional models could be “left behind”:

Profitable growth in the brokerage business is stagnating after 10 consecutive quarters of underlying P&C commercial insurance price declines. Emerging disruptive technologies are changing the way customers interact with insurance, including cutting out the middlemen. Some insurers are already reaping the benefits of this digital transformation.

But this isn’t the end. Accenture was also behind the suggestion that “Platform business models can help brokers protect and defend their core business while also launching new, value-creating strategies.”

Self-Driving Vehicles

Back in the 1990s, two insurers – Aviva and Progressive – began planning to get drivers’ hands off the wheel and let the car drive itself – and sufficient resources to be taken seriously in this undertaking.

After 10+ years, both organizations put the concept back on the shelf, effectively with a Do Not Touch sign.

However, other insurance and mobility companies continue to seek the same Great Breakthrough. In January, I suggested (in a blog entitled ‘Driving Disruption’) that there would be better safety controls. Unfortunately, these are not hitting the streets by themselves without human connection.

I asked Google, “Will autonomous cars take over?” The answer, from Wired (Are We There Yet? A Reality Check on Self-Driving Cars), was that “Fully autonomous cars may never arrive.” In greater detail:

Despite Elon Musk’s self-assured claim that Teslas will have “full self-driving” capability by the end of 2020, the world is too diverse and unpredictable, the robots too expensive and temperamental, for cars to navigate all the things human drivers navigate now.

As summed up by John Krafcik, the CEO of Waymo – formerly known as the Google self-driving car project – “Autonomy always will have some constraints.”

I guess I will keep my Driver’s License and be careful with my little Subaru.

And Just One More Thing …

As we wrap up this year with retrospectives and holiday celebrations, it is also time to start getting ready for 2020.

(First order of business? Our 18th annual Technology Conference, “20/20 Foresight: Keys to Success in a Dynamic World,” Feb. 25-26 in Toronto)

Let us know what you’d like to hear more about over the next year. Onward and upward!