What is insurtech, and how has it changed over the years? I had the opportunity to delve into this topic with three industry experts at the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents (MAIA) Big Event Conference in October.
Our expert panel included Bindable President Jean-Marie Lovett, Wunderite Co-founder Peter MacDonald, and Talage Director of Strategic Partners Matt Porter.
“If you think about the entire insurance value chain, insurtech has impacted pretty much everything along the way: from underwriting to new product development for the modern consumer. Insurtech is creating efficiencies on the back-end that in turn create easier processes across the board, both for providers and consumers alike.”– Jean-Marie Lovett, President, Bindable
Tech creates efficiencies in the insurance industry – and the use cases are constantly expanding.
Insurtech, short for insurance technology, has been a buzzword for quite some time. Technology has impacted everything from distribution to customer service and much more. One area that seems to be in the headlines recently is the world of claims. Insurtech solutions are making it easier for consumers and the industry to make the claims process faster and less reliant on human interaction with devices like drones to help investigate claims.
“I think my favorite use case for insurtech is on the claims side because what are we all in this line of work for? We’re supposed to be here to help our consumers, and improving the claims process has one of the biggest impacts on our customers’ lives. What the industry has been able to accomplish on the claims side by leveraging insurtech has been really exciting,” Jean-Marie said.
How Insurtech Has Evolved
From the agent’s role to the tech used, insurtech has transformed from its beginnings.
In thinking back on the insurtech of the past versus today, a significant difference is how tech companies approach the world of independent agents. In the beginning, the tech companies were trying to displace agencies rather than recognizing their value and working with them. That has changed and continues to evolve.
“When I think back 10-15 years ago, there was this theme of people building insurance distribution companies that wanted to paint agents as these outdated people trying to take advantage of you. And that was a big part of insurtech V1.”– Peter MacDonald, Co-Founder, Wunderite
What has happened since then? The tech companies realized that consumers prefer to buy insurance through an agent and that we could all work together to move the industry forward. “If you want to win the space, you have to go through independent insurance agencies. And I think V2 of insurtech is about how we enable the existing players,” Peter said.
Insurtech companies and agencies are starting to realize they need to work together with an open feedback and communication loop to create better solutions for both parties.
“I think all of the aha moments come from agencies. I mean, we're solving for things daily that agents are bringing to us. What makes us valuable is all based on what the agent needs,” Matt said.
What Makes Good Insurance Technology
With so many shiny new tools out there, how do you choose the best technology?
According to our experts, the best companies in the industry have insurance professionals behind them, are honest and have a solid user interface.
“I think honesty, first and foremost. Fundamentally, I've seen it a lot from working on the other side – companies are out trying to sell things that aren't working up front.”– Matt Porter, Director of Strategic Partners, Talage
In addition to honesty, the experts agreed that while the user interface matters, having a strong insurance background is also an important trait to look for in a company.
“A great user interface is very important, but to be successful in insurance, you also have to understand all the regulatory measures involved, along with the other nuances of the industry. I do think a lot of the most successful insurtech companies are the ones that employ people who came from within the insurance industry and who have a strong understanding all of its intricacies,” Jean-Marie said.
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