We look at the insurance industry’s top five trends of 2022, focusing on the central theme we see: new technology and innovation.
After two years, as the world begins to emerge from the COVID pandemic, many companies are looking to shift their business models and focus on customer-centric strategies. The insurance industry is no exception as they look to leverage technology that can keep up with changing demands and help them stay ahead of competitors.
Digital transformation will continue to be at the heart of insurance trends in 2022. Both established insurance companies and new startups will focus on rapidly adopting digital technologies to enable faster and smarter operations for enhanced customer experiences. Innovation-focused mindsets combined with changing customer expectations are bringing about digital transformation in the insurance industry that will be ongoing for several years.
Let’s look at what five main trends are changing the insurance industry this year.
1. Enhancing Customer Engagement
Engaging customers is one of the key challenges for insurers, agents and brokers in this ever-changing market. Consumers are demanding personalized, customer-friendly digital experiences. Carriers can no longer hope customers will adapt to their outdated processes. How do carriers become easier to work with and increase customer engagement? Using CRM technologies does exactly that.
Digitalization has transformed the way insurance companies interact with customers. Carriers are turning to CRM software to enhance their customer experiences upfront. CRM software for insurers efficiently organizes interaction data, and insurers can use it to identify the next steps for customers accurately.
Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics 365 have emerged as the two leading CRM vendors. As they’ve grown, they’ve expanded their digital capabilities beyond simply managing and governing customer records. CRM vendors are investing large amounts in getting familiar with more specific insurance use cases to better cater to the industry.
Sales, distribution and underwriting in insurance processes are now intertwining with sales and customer management processes. For example, Salesforce is working closely with Guidewire to determine how to leverage their own set of insurance-specific transaction functionalities within their financial services cloud. Dynamics is doing something similar and examining accelerators within their products better embed itself into core processes.
Insurance is a highly competitive and regulated field which means making unique products that stand out from the competition is extremely difficult. CRM software allows insurers to build relationships and offer personalized products. Truly knowing customers and being able to offer them exactly what they want, when they want, provides insurers with a way to stand out in a crowded insurance landscape.
Finally, most carriers already have an established data strategy and have been moving toward modern data platforms over the past few years. In the next year, we’ll see carriers use modern data platforms to enable improved policyholder and agent information management. Additionally, increased insights and more intelligent analytics will provide a launching point for agent and policyholder interactions and agent and product performance.
2. Embracing Core Systems Modernization
Similar to previous years, core system modernization in the Insurance industry continues to be a top priority for 2022 and is expected to remain for the next few years. As insurers look to transform their core systems, Property & Casualty and Life Insurance carriers are on very different paths to modernization.
Over the past 20 years, P&C carriers have embarked on journeys to modernize their core systems. The pandemic forced carriers to hasten their digitalization efforts and accelerate their most recent core system transformations. Most carriers have either recently completed a core systems transformation or are near completion. During their transformation, P&C insurers focused on technologies that help innovate their traditional value chain and respond to needs highlighted throughout the pandemic. They gave priority to technologies that:
- Expand digital services and enhance the customer experience
- Incorporate predictive analytics, AI and machine learning to enhance underwriting
- Automate complex tasks to ensure operational efficiency and mitigate costs
- Scale their digital ecosystem and accelerate innovation sustainably
- Apply DevOps principles to ensure continuous improvement
- Integrate with other systems and vendors easily.
In contrast, Life Insurers are playing catch up with their P&C counterparts. Their core systems modernization journeys have just begun, and change is long overdue. Not only did the pandemic amplify problems associated with legacy systems, but it also changed customer expectations and sparked industry innovation. For Life Insurers, replacing legacy systems provides an opportunity for new digital and business capabilities. Their key drivers for core systems modernization are:
- Improved digital services and experiences for employees, agents and customers
- Enhanced product development that results in faster time-to-market
- Flexibility to change products, business processes or technology much faster
- Improved automation and workflows to speed up the underwriting process
- Accessibility to data for easier integrations and effective governance.
The insurance industry is changing at a pace we’ve never seen before. Core systems modernization is a critical component for future success as it enables operational efficiency and the technological innovation needed to compete in today’s insurance landscape.
3. The Impact of Core Process Automation
This year, many insurers are exploring how to automate processes around their core and their core purposes. Over the past few years, insurers have had a spiked adoption of automation built on Robotic Process Automation (RPA). RPA isn’t going away anytime soon, but some interesting automation nuances have started to arise.
It has become increasingly apparent that RPA isn’t the only way to automate. Low-code and no-code solutions make efficient, cost-effective automation possible for insurance firms. According to Gartner, the use of low-code and no-code technologies will nearly triple by 2025. The right low-code platform allows insurers to tackle complex business problems and rapidly build applications using a drag-and-drop graphic interface.
But, how do insurers allow people within their organization to participate in automation without resulting in a big headache? The rise of low-code solutions has empowered business users to become “citizen developers.” Within the insurance industry, citizen developers are skilled professionals who can create applications and intelligent automations without heavy involvement from IT. The citizen developer approach allows IT to hand off some critical tasks to the business side and alleviate the demand for scarce resources when automating.
In the past, it may have taken an insurance company over a year to create an application to automate core processes. Now, they can develop the same application in weeks.
The insurance industry has typically been slow to embrace modern technology, but insurers have quickly started to explore alternative automation techniques. Insurers are looking to automate core processes without undertaking a large-scale IT project. With low-code solutions and citizen developer programs, insurers get efficiency that empowers continued digital transformation.
4. InsurTechs and Microservices are on the Rise
As many insurers investigate long- and short-term plans for their digital transformation journeys, we will continue to see an evolution of integration and pinpoint solutions. More of these pinpoint solutions are coming out of InsurTech than ever before, and along with this comes the demise of monolithic systems insurers have traditionally used.
Many insurers are attempting to break down their core systems and ancillary processes through microservices. The idea behind microservices is to break down applications to a granular business function, such as payment or first notice of loss. They can then treat each function within the organization as a single module to continuously develop and maintain separately. These modules communicate with each other through application program interfaces (APIs).
Breaking down core systems used to be challenging because dozens of microservices were hard to integrate with, and workflows were not efficient. With new technology available, popular core systems like Guidewire, Duck Creek and Majesco play well with more of these modern integration architectures.
Insurers are starting to build an ecosystem of technology that improves core processes, reduces time-to-market for agile insurance products, embeds predictive analytics, enhances customer experience and increases operational efficiencies.
5. Embedded Insurance Becomes a Priority
InsurTech has continued to provide new and interesting products in the insurance marketplace. Artificial intelligence (AI), big data and blockchain are merely some of the most innovative technologies emerging from InsurTechs. The core systems space has also evolved as InsurTechs develop solutions that provide the flexibility carriers and policyholders demand.
Along with these innovations and focus on digital is the idea of embedded insurance. This allows insurers to sell affordable, relevant and personalized insurance to customers when and where they need it. A typical example of embedded insurance is when a car rental company offers a collision damage waiver on its website as you make the purchase.
Customers want insurance tailored to them and their situation. On the flip side, carriers like knowing what a customer wants by the time they’ve submitted an application and that products don’t have complexity from a pricing standpoint. As the industry continues to move towards specialization, we’ll continue to see trends involving sophisticated marketing and outreach.
Embedded insurance allows insurers to meet customers where they are instead of trying to get customers to meet them somewhere. This is not a play by carriers to take agents out of the equation. In fact, it’s a play for agents to better engage their customers on behalf of the carriers. Customer engagement is the No. 1 priority in the minds of insurance carriers, and every carrier is working on a digital strategy to engage customers.
As we settle into 2022, the increasingly competitive insurance landscape will continue to experience the influence of core process automation, InsurTech and microservices, embedded insurance, and the demand for enhanced customer engagement. Many projects previously put on a backburner will make their way to the forefront this year.
Change and disruption are constant in today’s world. Improving agility, operational efficiency and customer experiences will be essential for insurers to meet the fast-changing demands of customers and the marketplace. One thing is for sure – it’s time for insurance companies to adopt new technologies and an innovative mindset going forward.