October 18, 2013

Innovation and customer-centricity have been at the tops of many insurers' to-do lists, and the insurance technology advisory firm SMA says that the industry is transforming from saying to doing, executing on innovative customer-centric projects at an increasing rate.

"Insurers are transitioning from strategy to execution, especially related to the customer experience," partner Mark Breading wrote in the company's recent "Innovation in the Insurance Customer Experience: Examples and Guiding Principles" research brief. "And the concept of innovation does not just apply to big, game-changing initiatives that transform the whole business. It applies equally to small changes that affect individual customer interactions."

Breading singled out 10 projects that are particularly innovative in the way they reinforce the insurance customer experience. Here are five:

  • Western & Southern Financial Group's needs analysis tool helps policyholders and agents collaboratively create a financial roadmap through an easy-to-use interface. The initiative won the firm's Innovation in Action award this year and vice president and CTO Doug Ross told Insurance & Technology's Kathy Burger that the company was trying to bring a holistic view to needs analysis."

  • USAA has a robust e-delivery capability that allows policyholders to customize their document management with "sophisticated delivery preference management [that] requires active management of the preferences by type, the relevant contact information, and customer permissions," Breading writes.

  • Progressive has pioneered mobile imaging with several initiatives including VIN and driver's license capture. This allows them to begin the customer acquisition process right in the dealer's lot, the company's Matt Lehman told I&T last year.

  • Allstate's mobile strategy involves bundling several desired capabilities in a single app that "enables policyholders to view and manage their policies, submit a first notice of loss report, get help at the scene of an accident, or request roadside assistance, plus a variety of other functions," Breading writes.

  • American Family Insurance has a portal associated with its usage-based insurance program for teen drivers that families can review collaboratively. "Recent SMA research found that 64% of the insurers with UBI programs in the market offer customer portals with information on driving behavior to identify how their young drivers can be safer on the road," Breading says.

[SMA's Deb Smallwood on the insurance innovation process]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, ...