COVID-19 has accelerated shifts in customers' lives. All the while, the Dutch insurance industry has been hurtling towards a perfect storm of converging market threats. While the immediate operational impact of COVID-19 appears to be relatively limited for Dutch insurers, we believe it is a critical time for insurers to leverage the momentum of this perfect storm and redefine who they want to be for their customers in this moment when customers are looking towards them for protection and guidance.
The measures following the COVID-19 outbreak have accelerated digitalization in The Netherlands, as people have started working, communicating and socializing from home.
Dutch insurers were quick to manage crises and risks within their organization, focusing first on their employees' wellbeing, followed by securing continuity of operations through remote work. Overall, insurers have transitioned to continue their operations remotely with relative ease compared to other sectors in The Netherlands – a great achievement, from which the foundations have been built over the last years.
Now, a year into the COVID-19 outbreak, we argue it is time to start broadening the focus away from your employees and operations, and towards your customers and their changing behaviors and needs in this new reality. In this blog, we hope to challenge you to think about the new reality of insurance and stimulate inspiration on how you can step up in your customers' lives in times of need.
Insurance – at its very core – is about protection. In times of uncertainty, much like in this COVID-19 pandemic, customers are looking to their insurer for just that – protection. As insurers prepare themselves for Recovery and policyholders look towards their insurers for guidance, we believe that now is the moment to define who you want to be for your customers.
In the process of redefining your role in your customers' lives, we observe three interconnected opportunities where insurers can increasingly add relevance:
The COVID-19 measures in The Netherlands ensured that Dutch consumers acclimated to the new reality of interacting with their financial service providers through digital means. During moments of crisis, we see an influx of customer communication with their insurers. And whether it is applying for a new policy, asking questions or submitting a claim, customers expect a seamless, digital customer experience moving into the Recovery phase.
Lemonade is a digital-first insurer who uses digital technology and algorithmic artificial intelligence to connect to their customers through chatbots instead of brokers and applications instead of paper. This speeds up the previously slow claims processing, and allows for claims to be made and approved in a matter of minutes.
"This is your moment to step out of your comfort zone and experiment with new business models. Find out who you want to be today and work towards it tomorrow."
Sr. Manager, Strategy & Operations
We also see insurers taking a more proactive role to step ahead of the insurance claim towards risk prevention.
In the past, we've seen insurers experiment with the use of AI technologies to predict risk. We expect to see insurers become more and more proactive in bringing that expertise into ecosystems to focus on protecting the customer through prevention before a crisis rather than after. In the healthcare ecosystem, for example, we see insurers leveraging their risk management expertise to tackle patient health and patient experience alongside hospitals and patient care facilities. We also see this in the mobility ecosystem where insurers collaborate with car manufacturers or home security ecosystem where insurers collaborate with home security systems, etc. Ultimately, policyholders are homeowners, patients, travelers and much more, and we expect that insurers will take an increasingly proactive role in working with partners and ecosystems to tackle protection of their customers more proactively in road safety, fire safety, unhealthy lifestyles, etc.
Vitality is an insurtech that proactively takes steps to prevent unhealthy lifestyles. It educates policyholders about healthy habits and encourages a healthy lifestyle in exchange for a discount in their premium.
"Digitalization has been on the insurer's agenda for quite some time, but now is the time to apply an offensive strategy."
Sander van der Meijs
Sr. Manager, Digital Transformation
We also see insurers take steps to increase trust from their customers and the greater community through standing in solidarity with them.
LAKA Bicycles: London-based bicycle insurer Laka has a focus on using community solidarity to share risks. The cost of settled claims are split by the community.
Lemonade: In addition to being a digital-first insurer, Lemonade stands in solidarity with their community by being transparent about their premium breakdown. It also gives back profits towards social causes of the policyholder's choosing.
Current circumstances have rapidly changed customer behavior and the need for protection, security and comfort. More than ever, insurers need to use this disruption as an acceleration to rethink the role they want to play in a new reality.
Our three opportunities describe ways to increase relevance and fulfil a momentous role. Of course, there are even more ways to add value to the customers. However, at the core it all starts with digitalization – leveraging digital capabilities to be who you want to be for your customers.
With their own and unique purposes, insurers have defined a unique value to deliver to their customers. Insurers should translate their purpose consistently and capture new opportunities that fit into that purpose. This will help insurers become more credible and better known. In a market rife with disruptors, clear choices will have to be made. Moving towards this fast-approaching new reality, who will you be for your customers?
Reaction - Respond to crisis
Resilience - Manage through uncertainty
Recovery - Identify opportunities
New Reality - Adapt to a new world
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