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What I learned from the DIgIn Conference

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Last May, I attended the DigIn: The Future of Insurance conference in Austin, TX. This conference has become one of the biggest meetings in the US to talk about technology and innovation in the insurance industry. This year it had more than 1,300 attendees, 100+ sponsors and exhibitors, ten tracks and over 200 speakers, with keynote speakers such as Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak. The event was focused on digital transformation and innovation of the insurance industry, looking to connect insurance companies, brokers, agents, and traditional vendors with insurtechs and technology companies that are looking to reshape the landscape of the sector.

This year the DigIn: The Future of Insurance conference had: 39% of its attendees with C-level/CEO/VP job titles, meaning that decision-makers were in the meeting, 43% were insurance carriers, 26% solution providers, 13% insurtechs, and 5% investors; all the actors of the insurance ecosystem in the same place.

Technology, innovation, and digital transformation are becoming a trending topic in the industry because carriers, agents, brokers, and customers are seeing the opportunities and advantages that come along with them. In the conference, I saw the current state of the industry and the innovations happening in all markets, from commercial and speciality lines to personal lines and auto. However, the best part was to see where the future of the industry is heading. Using the words of Nathan Golia, “It is an exciting time to be in the insurance industry.”

This article summarizes the key trends and innovations happening right now in the industry, according to the leaders who attended the conference. Also, I am going to highlight companies implementing cutting-edge technology to disrupt the value chain of the insurance industry, from customer acquisition, product development and underwriting, to risk management and claims.

The most important buzz word and probably one of the major trending topics was Digital Transformation. The incumbent companies have been talking about it and trying to implement it in different ways for a while. Digital transformation is becoming more and more relevant for developing competitive advantage, and for the sustainability of the insurance companies in the future. Many companies are working on this space, developing software and tailor-made solutions for automation and streamline processes. In this space, the partnership between Cerity and DuckCreek (link to the demo) is an excellent example of what can be accomplished.

It is important to recognize that traditional carriers and brokers are in a good spot to implement the change because there are many tools available to help them achieve the change, but they need to be wise about their choices. Digital transformation needs to be a part of the corporate strategy because silo approaches create confusion and usually do not get results. Open platforms, APIs and integrations with insurtechs are the way to develop competitive advantages, but companies need to make the cultural shift to adopt an agile business mindset; try it, be ready to fail fast, move on, and find something new to explore. As Natalie Kaschalk said, “there is never a good moment to start a digital transformation effort, but you need to get the right sponsor and start.”

Other key trends were AI, machine learning, and automation, which are becoming game changers in customer acquisition, customer service, and claims fields. Companies like Gamalon, that is developing a technology looking to change the customer service with an AI platform, take the customer experience to a new level by helping companies to make better decisions and identify trends. Another example is Friss, with an AI-powered anti-fraud software that helps companies fight insurance fraud in customer acquisition and claims, allowing carriers to save money and improve customer service. I recently learned that Friss started a partnership with Suramericana in Colombia. Finally, there are chat-bots and virtual assistance with machine learning and AI, such as Insurbot.ai, that are trying to change the way the insurance industry interact with the clients in every step of the customer experience.

The industry is looking for ways to shift from a product-centric to a customer-centric mindset. The product development is changing because companies are now looking for ways to incorporate big data and analytics into their product ideation and creation, as well as into the underwriting process. Customer acquisition and distribution is changing with customized offerings and personalized services that creates an entirely new customer experience.

Finally, Telematics and IOT are gathering data from a customer that was not available before. This information is helping insurance companies create personalized product offerings and proactive service, instead of the traditional reactive approach of paying claims only. We see this change in auto and home insurance. For Example, kangaroo created motion sensor home security systems that is app-based and hub free.  The sensor is straightforward to use, and its app has a clear customer experience. With the right partnership of a home insurance policy, this product can create a new customer experience for all homeowners.

DigIn: The Future of Insurance was a great experience to learn about innovations and good practices. Also, the encounter allowed me to see the bright future of the industry and all the exciting things that are about to happen. To conclude, I would like to give my kudos to Voom, and its founder Tomer Kashi, for developing what they described as the world’s first on-demand, usage-based insurance solution for Specialized Mobility. This company is a great example of where the industry is moving, solving new challenges of the new economy.

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