Accelerating digital transformation in a new world
There’s little doubt that insurers are feeling the effects of disruption. But in 2020, disruptive challenges arise not just from innovative competitors or the pace of technology change, but also from a pandemic that has up-ended lives, businesses and economies worldwide. It’s not surprising, then, that COVID-19 casts a long shadow on the Efma–Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards for 2020.
Even amid the uncertainty brought about by the novel coronavirus, the awards attracted around 360 entries from 240 institutions in 45 countries. The quality of the entries shows that insurance organizations are not allowing COVID-19 to derail their digital transformation programs—on the contrary, some are responding to the crisis by stepping up innovation and digital investment.
The ‘Never Normal’ World
Given that submissions for the 2020 Awards were prepared as countries worldwide locked down their economies to stop the spread of the virus, they offer powerful insights into how well equipped insurers are for the ‘never normal’ world that is taking shape as we emerge from the pandemic. Indeed, COVID-19 has changed the human experience in profound ways—how and what we consume; how and where we work; how we interact with others; how we move around; and more—and in so doing, it has supercharged a 20-year old trend of digitalization. Even as lockdowns start to ease in some countries, there is wide acceptance that the world has changed for good.
As such, what we are seeing unfold in 2020 is nothing short of a major realignment of the fundamentals of the insurance industry. Far from taking a pessimistic outlook for the medium- and long-term, leading insurers are seeing accelerated adoption and deployment of digital technology as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to innovate across business models, services and products.
More than that, it’s a chance for them to recreate their business around new definitions of value. Those that are embracing a long-term view, starting with their impact on the world and society, are poised to emerge as the leaders of the future. Tough challenges lie ahead, but as these pages show, many insurance leaders are primed to thrive beyond the pandemic.
2020 Innovation Trends
Our analysis of this year’s entries identified seven key trends, which we explore in more detail in this paper:
- Health At Hand
The term ‘Health at Hand’ reflects the fact that many of the health-related innovations we saw this year blend a mobile customer experience— including apps, tele-consultations or AI-powered interactions—with access to health provider networks. Although most of these innovations were launched before the pandemic, they proved their value as people around the world grappled with the impact of COVID-19 on their lives.
Leading insurance companies are helping customers with this aspect of their lives, building health services and solutions even into platforms and products where it was not previously a priority. We have selected three award candidates that show how insurance carriers are helping customers to take care of their own health and the health of their families. Insurers such as these are becoming part of a new health ecosystem that will dominate citizen thinking after the pandemic.
- Covid-19 Crisis Response
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented health and humanitarian crisis that has disrupted the global economy.
In their immediate response to the outbreak, leading insurance carriers focused their energies on helping their customers to navigate the impact of the crisis on their lives or businesses.
These award candidates offer some powerful examples of insurance carriers stepping up to help customers and their wider society to weather the storm and demonstrating their agility in deploying new solutions and offerings in a matter of weeks.
- Real-Time Experiences
The novel coronavirus pandemic has forced insurance companies to reevaluate how contact centers are leveraged, how employees deliver relevant customer experiences, and how digital channels can be used to support customers. Customers are emerging from the crisis with higher expectations of digital experiences.
They will seek digital insurance offerings that are personalized, real-time, relevant and seamless—and leading carriers are already considering how this impacts the design of their customer experience. Here are some examples of insurers that are building customer offerings and channels ready for a new, real-time digital normal.
- Ai & Me
Insurance leaders are already adopting AI tools and practices to speed up the automation of basic tasks in existing workflows. But this is just the start. The real potential of AI in insurance lies in using it as a collaboration tool with humans: to not only efficiently execute tasks but also transform what insurance businesses actually do.
Insurance leaders of the future will employ AI to reimagine everything—from the way their organizations are structured, to the way they approach work, to the value their enterprise creates. These awards candidates show how insurance enterprises can unlock new opportunities by enabling the full scope of human-AI collaboration when implemented at scale.
- Commercial Line Transformation
Commercial insurance is going through a transformation as insurance providers come to market with more innovative offerings, seek to make more effective use of digital channels for service and distribution, and strive to offer commercial customers a more transparent, seamless experience with their offerings.
As disruption unfolds in this market, we will see the digital leaders seize a clear advantage. Among the innovations we saw in commercial insurance this year, these three awards entries stood out as examples of commercial insurers creating powerful new digital experiences for intermediaries and customers
- Beyond Boundaries
Insurers understand that they can no longer operate in isolation if they want to reach their full potential and maximize their opportunities in the market. Instead, they must embrace today’s ecosystem-driven digital economy to access new customer pools, create new revenue streams, embed their brands deeper into customers’ everyday lives and deliver richer customer experiences.
We identified three awards candidates that are driving ecosystems strategies that could position them as market disruptors in the years to come. They are using digital platforms and networked systems to offer customers a wider, more relevant and appealing set of offerings and experiences in conjunction with ecosystem partners.
- New Ways Of Working
Insurance organizations need to bring their workforces with them on the digital journey if they are to successfully transform their businesses. The leaders are ensuring that everyone in the workforce is empowered with a new, constantly growing set of capabilities made possible through technology.
Through mobility, automation, AI, extended reality and more, insurance can elevate the workforce to heightened levels of performance, efficiency and effectiveness. Here are some examples of insurance companies building a next-generation workforce ready for a new way of working in a digital age.
Celebrating Insurance As A ‘Living Business’
Insurance companies face disruption at every turn. They are encountering growing competition from digital-first companies. Cost pressure remains relentless and customer expectations have never changed faster than during the pandemic. But as we slowly emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, leading insurance carriers have a wealth of opportunities to leverage their people and systems in new ways to better serve their customers.
Forward-looking insurers are rekindling their purpose and positioning the industry as a force for good. And they are moving from a transactional way of thinking to one that is human-centered. As they do so, these market leaders are evolving into what Accenture calls “Living Businesses”—agile, customer-centered organizations ready to flex as the world changes.
As the entries for the Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2020 show, insurers across the globe are driving innovation and new ways of working at scale to address life’s often unexpected changes for the benefit of their customers. By innovating at scale and in a sustained manner, insurers will ensure they remain a relevant and powerful force in rebuilding the post-pandemic economy.
About The 2020 Awards
The Efma–Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards were launched in 2016 to recognize and promote innovation. Encouraging insurers to explore new ways of growing their business, the awards celebrate the best new ideas that are transforming our industry—and serve to spark further innovation. The awards competition attracted nearly 360 entries from 240 institutions in 45 countries — even amidst the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which led to the awards ceremony being held virtually for the first time and attracting almost 300 participants. The winners were selected by a panel of judges comprising senior executives from insurers worldwide, and online voting by peers. Each entry was assessed using three criteria: originality; strategic capacity to generate long-term competitive edge and return on investment; and adaptability for use in other markets and countries.