Bright and early last Friday morning Montoux and Deloitte hosted the latest Shifting Gears Breakfast Seminar in Sydney. The theme was Sink or Swim: Riding the Wave of Innovative Disruption in Insurance, and featured three fantastic industry professionals as speakers.
Vanessa Dobson, Head of Research and Development at Munich Re Australia, kicked off the event by digging into the key considerations modern consumers have when looking for insurance products, as well as how the industry is doing when it comes to delivering those products to market.
“We need courage to step into the new way of doing things,” she said, noting that in order to deliver products to meet consumer expectations, there needs to be a collective effort on behalf of the insurance community. Part of this, Dobson explained, will come from outsider insurtechs looking into the life insurance industry, noting ways to address these issues, and partnering with insurers to make it happen.
Following Dobson’s presentation, Montoux’s Co-CEO Geoff Keast spoke about the need for life insurers to change their approach to the market to reflect today’s customer-centric economy. “Most insurers remain focused on enhancing legacy systems, products, and business models, while neglecting to devote enough resources to more disruptive innovations that might differentiate them in an increasingly customer-centric economy,” Keast said.
He noted how the idea of insurance as a service, rather than a product, is much more aligned with today’s consumers - though most insurers haven’t yet caught on. Additionally, life insurers should consider adjusting the way they think about the mature insurtech market. Instead of looking at insurtechs as vendors with one point-solutions, they should think of them as partners and co-developers they could work with to solve large, industry problems. This would simultaneously boost innovation within incumbent insurers as well as the industry at large, and potentially decrease the risk that insurers lose top talent to insurtechs due to a lack of internal innovation.
Wrapping up the event was Kelly Smith, Head of Innovation at AIA Australia. She took a slightly different approach, giving her thoughts on a behind-the-scenes experience she recently had when visiting big tech companies in Silicon Valley. Smith warned against idolizing the Valley model as the epitome of an ideal working/business model, pointing out that generating large amounts of value and money doesn’t always go hand in hand with a sustainable business model, quality leadership capabilities, or a healthy work environment.
Her key takeaways from her Valley-visit that insurance companies can learn from include ‘trust is earned, not given,’ and that it’s important the industry remains mindful that we aren’t just here to flog customers. Insurance adds value to people’s lives when they are most vulnerable, and that needs to be communicated.
Overall, it became clear that while progress towards disruptive innovation has been made by incumbents there is still a long way to go before the industry realizes the changes needed to create a sustainable and lasting industry for the modern world. Building faster, more agile and cross-functional teams to solve problems together rather than working in silos and entrenching the status quo will be a key part of preparing the insurance workforce.
In order to seek change and progress as a whole industry, the speakers agreed that a sincere effort to build lasting and collaborative partnerships between insurers and insurtechs alike is an effective way to solve industry problems.
Thank you to everyone who came out to last week’s event! We hope you enjoyed yourselves as much as we did and we’re looking forward to seeing you at the next one.