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The Most Innovative Insurer Customer Experiences

SMA has identified 10 insurer initiatives that it says represents the cream of the crop for insurance customer experience.

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]

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, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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Jonathan_Camhi
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Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Author
1/14/2014 | 9:27:16 PM
re: The Most Innovative Insurer Customer Experiences
These kind of gaming and education tools will probably lead to more educated consumers, which I imagine will be a very good thing overall for the financial services.
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
1/14/2014 | 5:54:05 PM
re: The Most Innovative Insurer Customer Experiences
Yes, gamification is slowly but surely making its way to financial services.
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Author
1/14/2014 | 5:15:51 PM
re: The Most Innovative Insurer Customer Experiences
Good ideas; apps and gaming could really appeal to consumers. Retail and entertainment have seen a lot of improvement in customer engagement; banking is making strides too. As insurance continues to catch up to other industries, it could help to use their successes as inspiration.
Ravi Koka
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Ravi Koka,
User Rank: Author
1/13/2014 | 11:28:19 PM
re: The Most Innovative Insurer Customer Experiences
These are good examples. However the Insurance industry is still catching up on customer engagement and experience as most of the products fall into the advisory category and are not B2C. Personal Auto, Term are being sold via the direct to consumer channel. There needs to be more innovation around how to engage the customer as currently it's a low touch point compared to retail, banking and entertainment industries. Creative needs analysis apps are a good beginning. Gaming tools that also provide education on insurance will get the millenials interested.
Ravi Koka
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Ravi Koka,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/13/2014 | 11:28:19 PM
re: The Most Innovative Insurer Customer Experiences
These are good examples. However the Insurance industry is still catching up on customer engagement and experience as most of the products fall into the advisory category and are not B2C. Personal Auto, Term are being sold via the direct to consumer channel. There needs to be more innovation around how to engage the customer as currently it's a low touch point compared to retail, banking and entertainment industries. Creative needs analysis apps are a good beginning. Gaming tools that also provide education on insurance will get the millenials interested.
Greg MacSweeney
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Greg MacSweeney,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/4/2013 | 12:03:12 PM
re: The Most Innovative Insurer Customer Experiences
I think all industries, to some extent, are guilty of only looking inward when they look for innovative technology. Companies in any business can learn a lot by looking at other verticals. It helps to fight "group think."
DSAHOO1
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DSAHOO1,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/4/2013 | 1:06:56 AM
re: The Most Innovative Insurer Customer Experiences
Insurers have been so far behind in their technology investment that what seems commonplace for some other industries will seem like innovation to insurers. Insurance companies need to start casting their innovation net wide into other industries like Banking, retail etc than just looking at their own brethren.
Byurcan
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Byurcan,
User Rank: Author
10/23/2013 | 1:00:41 PM
re: The Most Innovative Insurer Customer Experiences
Yes, that's a good point, though it could also have the consequence of some people having their jobs reduced in some capacity, as well.
KBurger
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KBurger,
User Rank: Author
10/22/2013 | 9:06:56 PM
re: The Most Innovative Insurer Customer Experiences
That's a good point. I also think one reason why we are seeing more activity around innovation (labs, initiatives, etc.) in insurance is that the industry has been somewhat more stable & even healthy (at least in terms of IT spending) than other segments of FS.When you are on the defensive, as banking and capital markets have been since the financial crisis, there is a tendency to hunker down. When business is stable, there may be a tendency to think "what's next?" and to be more creative about how to further drive growth. Ironically, when times are tough and you arre being challenged probably is when you most need to be innovative.
Jonathan_Camhi
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Jonathan_Camhi,
User Rank: Author
10/22/2013 | 8:50:51 PM
re: The Most Innovative Insurer Customer Experiences
I'd imagine being able to save the expense of sending out an adjuster would be a huge gain for an insurance company. Sounds like something the industry would be jumping after.
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