SO, HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THE FUTURE…? The Coming Golden Age of Insurance

By Sean M. Kevelighan, CEO, Insurance Information Institute

“What does the future of insurance look like?” It’s the question that’s launched a thousand publications and panel discussions. And it’s an essential one that covers a lot of ground. In my case, literally.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) partnered recently with InsureTech Connect (ITC) and Gamma Iota Sigma (GIS) at the two organizations’ flagship events, InsureTech Connect 2019 in Las Vegas, and Gamma Iota Sigma’s 48th annual International Conference in Dallas. What we came away with from these back-to-back events were two distinct but nevertheless complimentary visions of how things are now and what’s to come.

Briefly put, the future of insurance will be largely to make good on past promises. And this is not because we’ve been remiss in our duties but because people now are able to build and implement the right tools for the job. Speaking before thousands of InsureTech Connect 2019 attendees, Glenn Shapiro, president of Allstate Personal Lines, was blunt.

He noted making policyholders wait several days for an auto repair estimate that takes only a few hours to complete is: “[N]ot a service experience that you would accept in any other part of your life!” Embracing Insurtech and the power of innovation enables insurers like Allstate to automate processes and replace outmoded legacy systems to make insurance a truly customer-driven business. Insurers are now able to provide security and empowerment to their customers.

Which brings us to … resilience.

Early in 2019, ITC selected the I.I.I. to co-host its Resiliency Innovation Challenge, a four-month-long competition for Insurtech start-ups whose businesses are focused on catastrophe resilience. Fast forward to the final day of InsureTech Connect 2019, and an impressive field of 22 Insurtechs was pared down to three outstanding finalists: WeatherCheckTrue Flood Risk and Cowbell Cyber, whose CEOs presented their products and businesses to a panel of experts. The group included Susan Holliday, senior adviser to the International Finance Corporation in Washington, D.C.; Arlene Kern, a strategic innovation scout at Munich Reinsurance Co.; Lee Ng, vice president, Innovation, at Travelers Cos. Inc.; and Kevin Pray, vice president, Innovation, at The Hanover Insurance Group.

The finalists come at the problem of catastrophe risk from markedly different angles—preparedness, risk assessment, and risk management, respectively. The beauty of this diversity of thought was that we had disparate applications of data coalescing around the power of resilience. Congratulations to Demetrius Gray, CEO of WeatherCheck, who walked away with the first-place trophy, as well as to all the competitors who made the inaugural Resiliency Innovation Challenge a huge success.

One of the key takeaways from the Challenge was how resilience is benefiting and inspiring people in ways other functions of our industry cannot. Innovation and, more important, awareness of new solutions to manage risk makes the goal of creating safer homes, businesses and communities an attainable one. Young men and women embrace this philosophy.

We saw this first-hand in students who’ve chosen to study risk management and insurance at the Gamma Iota Sigma International Conference in Dallas, TX. There, I was honored to moderate a panel discussion titled, “Plan. Respond. Recover: The Power of Resilience,” with Dr. Nidia Martinez, director of Climate Risk Analytics/Capital, Science & Policy Practice at Willis Towers Watson; Dr. Roger Grenier, senior vice president, Global Resilience, at Verisk’s AIR Worldwide, and Alessa Quane, executive vice president, Chief Risk Officer at AIG.

The panelists shared their perspectives on topics ranging from the value of public/private partnerships in closing insurance coverage gaps; the sometimes overlooked but nevertheless consequential challenges posed to insurers by climate change (e.g., the need to guide energy businesses through “transition risk” while they retool to meet rising market demand for renewable resources); and how insurers are succeeding in building resilience.

Suffice it to say, putting two intensely forward-thinking and forward-looking events like ITC 2019 and GIS’s International Conference into perspective is a tall order. Given the dizzying array of people, places and presentations that blew past us in a single week, it was reassuring to be reminded again of a few key facts. The Insurance Information Institute represents an industry that’s going all-in on reinventing itself to serve customers and make our communities safer and more prosperous. And that many are eager to join the insurance industry in bringing this vision to life. Or to borrow the words of Jay Weintraub, co-founder of InsureTech Connect: “People really care about insurance.”

Sean Kevelighan is chief executive officer of the Insurance Information Institute, a non-profit research, education and communications organization dedicated to improving public understanding of insurance — what it does and how it works.