Last week, Goodwin’s Insurtech team traveled to Las Vegas for InsureTech Connect, the world’s largest annual insurance technology conference, which brought together key players and thought-leaders to showcase new innovation and discuss leading issues impacting the space. The conference included excellent panel discussions on emerging trends such as digitalization, cybersecurity, climate change, and embedded insurance — topped off with a closing party featuring Ludacris.
During the conference, panelists explored how the insurance industry is changing both in response to improved technology, such as data automation and AI, and evolving customer expectations and risks. One interesting aspect of this was experiencing just how far the industry has come in two years since #ITC2019, the better part of which has involved a global pandemic that accelerated the digitalization of insurance.
For example, at #ITC2019, many discussions focused on distributed ledger technology (DLT) and blockchain, which was referred to as a potential game-changer for the insurance industry. There was a lot of hype around potential uses and applications, especially with respect to simplifying and speeding up insurer processes. However, due to lofty expectations and the need to restructure a legacy laden industry, blockchain has yet to deliver on the hype of several years ago and was barely mentioned at the #ITC2021 panel sessions that the Goodwin team attended.
Instead, at this year’s conference, many discussions — as well as new entrants in the insurtech space — focused on embedded insurance, which refers to the concept of offering insurance at the point of sale (i.e., embedding insurance with a different product or service sold to a customer). While embedded insurance undeniably has the potential to disrupt insurance distribution and impact a variety of other industries, the hype around it felt somewhat similar to the hype around blockchain from #ITC2019. In our view, however, there are reasons to be more optimistic about its potential uses and applications.
One theme at #ITC2021 was that embedded insurance is not just about selling insurance more seamlessly at the point of sale, but that it is about the entire purchasing journey from the initial identification of a product or service to a customer’s decision to purchase the product or service with or without insurance. Along the way, market participants are able to collect additional customer data, and the purchasing process acts as a natural fraud deterrent. This is also an enormous opportunity to create incremental revenue for brands and channels and even allows for the offering of insurance on relatively low-value risks.
From a consumer standpoint, as the world continues to shift online, consumers are looking for a more simplified purchasing process and ways to reduce costs, both of which embedded insurance can offer if done correctly. As several panelists commented, however, embedded insurance still has room for improvement in order to make it customized, underwritten, and tailored for a particular customer experience. There are also several significant roadblocks to maximizing this opportunity, including using and leveraging customer data in an entirely new way and working with new partners to integrate insurance into their offerings while keeping their brand identity and specialized user experience intact.
Our main takeaway from #ITC2021 is that the industry remains on the verge of transformational change and is continuing to innovate and develop new technology to leverage data and strengthen the customer experience. Regarding the future, it will be interesting to evaluate the key themes of next year’s conference to see whether embedded insurance has gone the way of blockchain or whether the market has capitalized on the opportunity.