The Future of Insurance is Now… Well, it’s on its way

I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Insuretech conference in early October. I wanted to take a moment to recap some of the overwhelming messages I heard at the Insuretech conference and give it to you in layman’s terms. I like bullet points and numbers — I like my info quick and fast. So here it is — the down and dirty, a few notable points, some quick stories, and a random thought or two as it pertains to Insuretech and the Conference, in no particular order:

 

#1 – (Agents, In case you stop reading this article in another 10 seconds, you need to see this): Technology enhances the customer experience, it does not replace it! Smart Insurance agents: you’re going to be fine, in fact, you’ll thrive!

 

#2 – The Future of Insurance is here…Well…it’s on its way. In reality things are unfolding on the tech side so fast it would be a Sin for an agent to assume that Tech is not somehow impacting the Insurance industry in every way and on a very regular basis.

 

#3 –  I posted this on FaceBook while I was at the conference:

“Geeking out at insuretech conference in Vegas. It feels like two dorky worlds colliding and I’m wondering how I got into it all 15 years ago. Insurance and technology. I know the Insurance side. The Tech freaks know their stuff. It is playing out well.”

A Smart A$$ Agent friend and Insurance-Forum Guru responded, “Shawn Michael Walker, nerds didn’t win in High school and they’re sure not going to beat me now”.

He might be right in a weird way. So many of the startups are doing everything they can to get a chunk of the money carriers have earmarked for this out-of-the-box stuff. I heard a carrier person state they had $25m to spend during a presentation. Guess who the most popular person in the room was post-presentation. Stats show many won’t make it. I met a lot of folks at tiny little booths stating this was their third Insuretech company in a short span of years.

 

#4  –  One leader of a small new Insuretech Insurance company bestowed his thoughts on the crowd one morning (I think the morning after his company reported their not-so-great earnings).

“Most Industries sell a product made of Atoms and Electrons (Ex: A toaster). So Machine learning touches everything but the actual product (Amazon can make the whole buying process amazing, but it does not make the actual Toaster — the product — better).

 

VS

 

Insurance is all Algorithms and statistics. Machine learning transforms the actual Insurance product sold, unlike the example above.”

Remember the more data a carrier has, the more likely the carrier will win — as long as they are smart enough to make sense of it.

(As long as I am on this topic. Who has been plugging in Telematics into cars, and getting more data on drivers, far longer than any other company? Progressive!)

One other point on this topic. Telematics were discussed at the conference as a thing that has been tackled and accomplished. ‘It is old news! Been there, should already be doing that!’ If your favorite carrier has not adopted it and been practicing it — They are WAYYYYY behind. They already are, as noted above.  

 

#5 –  The industry WILL change. It already is changing!  (Re-read this section a few times if you are new to this concept)

When X does not equal a bucket of people that fit a statistic (Think zip code, Smoker or not, credit score, age, gender, number of driving points, diabetic) and X shifts to a 1:1 ratio via wearables — like smart watches, telematics — car plug ins, smarthomes, etc. the industry will fully understand specific risks and try to price for the attributes of a single person. (Mind blown- even though I already knew it.) — This message was not unique to any one company and was heard over and over at the conference. (#Science Risk Analytics)

 

#6 – The conference was attended by over 6,000 folks, many of them C level Insurance executives of all sizes and from all Insurance disciplines. This goes without saying, but Insuretech Entrepreneurs searching for an organization to fund their NEXT project were everywhere as well.  

Prior to the Show I texted a buddy who I knew would be at the conference. It read, “I’ll see you in Vegas. I assume there will be some big heads walking around all week.” The reality is, the Insuretech Conference seemed to be the who’s who in Insurance. (To state there were a lot of big heads walking around was a complete understatement.)

Side note: I bumped into an astonishing number of friends and acquaintances within the industry all week. It made me feel like my 15 years have been well spent in this industry I love. There were 30 more friends or acquaintances that reached out after seeing my posts stating they were there. Next year, if you go, you somehow have to better understand who is attending and how to best find them — The Attendee/ sponsor list is long folks.

 

#7 – The Conference was significantly more international than I ever expected. I would guess 35-40% international folks.

 

#8 –  Carrier big wigs were there trying to figure out where to spend money and figure the Techy stuff out. As agencies I believe it is good to be there to show Carrier partners that the agency channel is interested in helping shape the future of the industry as well. Agencies should want a say in what is coming down the pipeline.

 

#9 – Captive carriers were not very present. State Farm was there. Is that an indicator that they are working on and figuring out their technology options within their own closed ecosystem?

 

#10 – I was struck by the fact that the “Experts” are often 180 degrees apart. One example of this played out in a matter of minutes on the largest stage at Insuretech.

One start-up leader with 10’s of millions of dollars in Written Premium inferred that 10 years from now brokers will not be needed. That same insurer seems to have a certain individualized socialistic approach to the business. Moments later, on the same stage, the leader of a well established firm that writes Billions of dollars of written premium stated, “That’s Nonsense!”

The point of this all is that change is indeed coming, but it seems to be on a dimmer switch…How fast and how strong the light changes is yet to be seen and along the way capital, talented people, and a willing consumer are a must. Those underlying forces are not changing…    

 

Originally published in the January/February Issue of Insurance Selling Mag. Republished here with the author’s permission.

About Shawn Walker

Shawn has over 14 years managing company resources on both the AGENCY and CARRIER side of the Independent Agency equation. While attending the University of Utah, he managed one of the largest independent agencies in Salt Lake City. Upon graduating he took a job in Sales Management on the carrier side. He was promoted to a Leadership role where he managed company resources and Territory Sales Managers in the states of Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico (126,000,000 in WP). He returned to CO to team up with Premier Group Insurance. Today, As Vice President of Premier Group Insurance, He works with their only client: PGI Agents, and their only stakeholder: Insurance Carriers, to maximize growth and earnings. He loves speaking with and helping insurance agents (Captive and Independent). He’s met 1000’s of a agents across the country throughout his career. And when he has time, he wants to speak with you. Shawn Michael Walker can be reached at: Shawnw@pgiagents.com

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