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Market View

‘The Third Wave of Innovation’ Brings Growth Opportunity for Brokers

Aon Benfield cites growth opportunities as technology becomes more and more integrated into the industry.
By: | October 12, 2017 • 5 min read

A new report from Aon Benfield points to the on-demand economy, cyber risks and Insurtech as areas of potential growth opportunities with big impact on brokers, insureds and their clients going forward.

Insurance On-Demand

Have you ever headed out to the airport or for a night on the town in the care of your friendly neighborhood Uber driver? Perhaps you skipped the vacation tourist traps and spent your last getaway in a quaint cottage you found through Airbnb.

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If so, you’re part of the on-demand, or gig, economy — a sector that presents opportunity and disruption to the traditional insurance model, according to Aon’s report, entitled “Global Insurance Market Opportunities: Re-Imagining Risk Management.”

As more of these on-demand services populate the marketplace, insurers will need to rethink how assets such as cars or homes are covered under a policy, said the report.

The industry projects that, by 2020, 40 percent of the total U.S. workforce will be independent workers in the gig economy. The increasing commercial use of cars and houses enables insurers and reinsurers to start developing new and enhanced products and to engage more creatively in the thought process behind insurance product development.

“The true transformation will happen as we re-imagine risk management altogether,” Paul Mang, Aon’s Global CEO of analytics, said in a statement released alongside the report.

Consumer trust, safety, consistency in service quality and data privacy pose risks to the on-demand worker and business. On-demand transactions are temporal, episodic and small compared to traditional insurance, and insurance products are geared toward specific coverages.

Paul Mang, Global CEO of analytics, Aon

Aon Benfield believes the insurance industry can play an important role by promoting standards for security and risk mitigation across on-demand economy platforms. Technology, the report said, plays an important role in addressing on-demand insurance.

Mang said that collaborations, or “open architecture innovations,” will be key in creating net new growth, even though it may be difficult to streamline in the current insurance environment. This type of system, Aon suggests, would set operating standards while allowing for a great deal of flexibility and permutation.

Take Google Play and the Apple Store for example. These platforms, while servicing different industries, are held together by a set of rules and norms to provide sufficient security to their many buyers. Aon believes successful insurance agencies would treat open architecture in much the same way — servicing individual clients while remaining invested in a set security model.

Cyber Risk Spreading

Cyber, the report said, is a “far-reaching, enterprise-level” risk. Despite best efforts and effective security programs, hackers continue to infiltrate companies via the digital, connected world. A most recent example would be Equifax’s data breach in late May, which compromised Social Security numbers, driver’s license information and credit scores for nearly 143 million Americans.

Aon reports 45,000 known cyber incidents this year alone. Cisco Systems detects 1.5 million different kinds of malware daily. According to AM Best, insurers wrote more than $1.35 billion in cyber insurance policies in 2016 — a 35 percent increase from 2015.

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In the past, cybersecurity has been viewed primarily as a technology issue. But cyber impacts every avenue of a business — from finance, operations and human resources to customers, brand and regulatory compliance. Therefore, Aon suggests a holistic approach to managing cyber risk and a move toward cyber resilience; traditional means will not cut it.

“Cyber risks continue to evolve, and insurance coverages keep changing along with them,” reads the report. “This continued evolution creates challenges for modeling, and nowhere is this more important than in the work of aggregation management.”

Cyber risks, casualty catastrophe risks and pathogen risks become increasingly insurable through collaborations with Insurtech companies, said the report.

The Move Toward Insurtech

CB Insights, which collects and analyzes data to predict emerging trends, has dubbed the current era of technological advances the ‘third wave of innovation,’ citing that the industry will likely see more change in the next 10 years than it saw in the last 100.

“The pressure on insurers to innovate is clearly growing and capital is flowing into the insurance sector as investors see an opportunity to disrupt the more than $5 trillion marketplace.” — “Global Insurance Market Opportunities: Re-Imagining Risk Management,” 12th Edition, Aon, September 2017.

The first wave came with the creation of the Internet, connecting people from across the world and supplying users with knowledge at their fingertips. Next, the birth of fintech democratized financial data, making it easier for businesses to utilize tech when creating better financial services for consumers. Now, we are turning to Insurtech.

“The pressure on insurers to innovate is clearly growing and capital is flowing into the insurance sector as investors see an opportunity to disrupt the more than $5 trillion marketplace,” read the report.

In the Insurtech realm, the report highlights that this fast-growing entrepreneurial segment could act as an enabler rather than a disruptor of traditional insurance. In 2016, more than 200 Insurtech startups gained $9 billion in investment. The report noted that today more than 550 Insurtech startups attracted nearly $14 billion in investment.

Insurtech utilizes technological innovations, such as artificial intelligence or wearables, to insure “ultra-customized” policies. Using data from Internet-enabled devices, Insurtech startups are able to price premiums according to observed behaviors.

In other words, Insurtech uses technology to save as much as possible.

Of course, growing technology brings its own share of growing risks. But the Aon Benfield authors believe that this uncertainty of technology acts as a driver of industry growth.

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“We know that the insurance sector is facing challenges in the current macroeconomic environment, so we should expect leading organizations in the industry to drive change,” Mang said in the statement. “We are already using technology to make us more efficient as a sector and to expand into emerging risk markets.”

In addition to cyber, Insurtech and the on-demand economy, Aon points to autonomous vehicles as another area for both growth and disruption. U.S. motor pure premiums are expected to decrease more than 40 percent by 2050, the same point at which driverless cars are expected to be fully integrated.

The report projects that the driverless technology may transfer accident liabilities from the owner to the manufacturers and software providers. &

Autumn Heisler is the digital producer and a staff writer at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Insurtech

Kiss Your Annual Renewal Goodbye; On-Demand Insurance Challenges the Traditional Policy

Gig workers' unique insurance needs drive delivery of on-demand coverage.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 6 min read

The gig economy is growing. Nearly six million Americans, or 3.8 percent of the U.S. workforce, now have “contingent” work arrangements, with a further 10.6 million in categories such as independent contractors, on-call workers or temporary help agency staff and for-contract firms, often with well-known names such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb.

Scott Walchek, founding chairman and CEO, Trōv

The number of Americans owning a drone is also increasing — one recent survey suggested as much as one in 12 of the population — sparking vigorous debate on how regulation should apply to where and when the devices operate.

Add to this other 21st century societal changes, such as consumers’ appetite for other electronic gadgets and the advent of autonomous vehicles. It’s clear that the cover offered by the annually renewable traditional insurance policy is often not fit for purpose. Helped by the sophistication of insurance technology, the response has been an expanding range of ‘on-demand’ covers.

The term ‘on-demand’ is open to various interpretations. For Scott Walchek, founding chairman and CEO of pioneering on-demand insurance platform Trōv, it’s about “giving people agency over the items they own and enabling them to turn on insurance cover whenever they want for whatever they want — often for just a single item.”

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“On-demand represents a whole new behavior and attitude towards insurance, which for years has very much been a case of ‘get it and forget it,’ ” said Walchek.

Trōv’s mobile app enables users to insure just a single item, such as a laptop, whenever they wish and to also select the period of cover required. When ready to buy insurance, they then snap a picture of the sales receipt or product code of the item they want covered.

Welcoming Trōv: A New On-Demand Arrival

While Walchek, who set up Trōv in 2012, stressed it’s a technology company and not an insurance company, it has attracted industry giants such as AXA and Munich Re as partners. Trōv began the U.S. roll-out of its on-demand personal property products this summer by launching in Arizona, having already established itself in Australia and the United Kingdom.

“Australia and the UK were great testing grounds, thanks to their single regulatory authorities,” said Walchek. “Trōv is already approved in 45 states, and we expect to complete the process in all by November.

“On-demand products have a particular appeal to millennials who love the idea of having control via their smart devices and have embraced the concept of an unbundling of experiences: 75 percent of our users are in the 18 to 35 age group.” – Scott Walchek, founding chairman and CEO, Trōv

“On-demand products have a particular appeal to millennials who love the idea of having control via their smart devices and have embraced the concept of an unbundling of experiences: 75 percent of our users are in the 18 to 35 age group,” he added.

“But a mass of tectonic societal shifts is also impacting older generations — on-demand cover fits the new ways in which they work, particularly the ‘untethered’ who aren’t always in the same workplace or using the same device. So we see on-demand going into societal lifestyle changes.”

Wooing Baby Boomers

In addition to its backing for Trōv, across the Atlantic, AXA has partnered with Insurtech start-up By Miles, launching a pay-as-you-go car insurance policy in the UK. The product is promoted as low-cost car insurance for drivers who travel no more than 140 miles per week, or 7,000 miles annually.

“Due to the growing need for these products, companies such as Marmalade — cover for learner drivers — and Cuvva — cover for part-time drivers — have also increased in popularity, and we expect to see more enter the market in the near future,” said AXA UK’s head of telematics, Katy Simpson.

Simpson confirmed that the new products’ initial appeal is to younger motorists, who are more regular users of new technology, while older drivers are warier about sharing too much personal information. However, she expects this to change as on-demand products become more prevalent.

“Looking at mileage-based insurance, such as By Miles specifically, it’s actually older generations who are most likely to save money, as the use of their vehicles tends to decline. Our job is therefore to not only create more customer-centric products but also highlight their benefits to everyone.”

Another Insurtech ready to partner with long-established names is New York-based Slice Labs, which in the UK is working with Legal & General to enter the homeshare insurance market, recently announcing that XL Catlin will use its insurance cloud services platform to create the world’s first on-demand cyber insurance solution.

“For our cyber product, we were looking for a partner on the fintech side, which dovetailed perfectly with what Slice was trying to do,” said John Coletti, head of XL Catlin’s cyber insurance team.

“The premise of selling cyber insurance to small businesses needs a platform such as that provided by Slice — we can get to customers in a discrete, seamless manner, and the partnership offers potential to open up other products.”

Slice Labs’ CEO Tim Attia added: “You can roll up on-demand cover in many different areas, ranging from contract workers to vacation rentals.

“The next leap forward will be provided by the new economy, which will create a range of new risks for on-demand insurance to respond to. McKinsey forecasts that by 2025, ecosystems will account for 30 percent of global premium revenue.

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“When you’re a start-up, you can innovate and question long-held assumptions, but you don’t have the scale that an insurer can provide,” said Attia. “Our platform works well in getting new products out to the market and is scalable.”

Slice Labs is now reviewing the emerging markets, which aren’t hampered by “old, outdated infrastructures,” and plans to test the water via a hackathon in southeast Asia.

Collaboration Vs Competition

Insurtech-insurer collaborations suggest that the industry noted the banking sector’s experience, which names the tech disruptors before deciding partnerships, made greater sense commercially.

“It’s an interesting correlation,” said Slice’s managing director for marketing, Emily Kosick.

“I believe the trend worth calling out is that the window for insurers to innovate is much shorter, thanks to the banking sector’s efforts to offer omni-channel banking, incorporating mobile devices and, more recently, intelligent assistants like Alexa for personal banking.

“Banks have bought into the value of these technology partnerships but had the benefit of consumer expectations changing slowly with them. This compares to insurers who are in an ever-increasing on-demand world where the risk is high for laggards to be left behind.”

As with fintechs in banking, Insurtechs initially focused on the retail segment, with 75 percent of business in personal lines and the remainder in the commercial segment.

“Banks have bought into the value of these technology partnerships but had the benefit of consumer expectations changing slowly with them. This compares to insurers who are in an ever-increasing on-demand world where the risk is high for laggards to be left behind.” — Emily Kosick, managing director, marketing, Slice

Those proportions may be set to change, with innovations such as digital commercial insurance brokerage Embroker’s recent launch of the first digital D&O liability insurance policy, designed for venture capital-backed tech start-ups and reinsured by Munich Re.

Embroker said coverage that formerly took weeks to obtain is now available instantly.

“We focus on three main issues in developing new digital business — what is the customer’s pain point, what is the expense ratio and does it lend itself to algorithmic underwriting?” said CEO Matt Miller. “Workers’ compensation is another obvious class of insurance that can benefit from this approach.”

Jason Griswold, co-founder and chief operating officer of Insurtech REIN, highlighted further opportunities: “I’d add a third category to personal and business lines and that’s business-to-business-to-consumer. It’s there we see the biggest opportunities for partnering with major ecosystems generating large numbers of insureds and also big volumes of data.”

For now, insurers are accommodating Insurtech disruption. Will that change?

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“Insurtechs have focused on products that regulators can understand easily and for which there is clear existing legislation, with consumer protection and insurer solvency the two issues of paramount importance,” noted Shawn Hanson, litigation partner at law firm Akin Gump.

“In time, we could see the disruptors partner with reinsurers rather than primary carriers. Another possibility is the likes of Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook and Apple, with their massive balance sheets, deciding to link up with a reinsurer,” he said.

“You can imagine one of them finding a good Insurtech and buying it, much as Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods gave it entry into the retail sector.” &

Graham Buck is a UK-based writer and has contributed to Risk & Insurance® since 1998. He can be reached at riskletters.com.