Life Insurance Research Outlook 2021

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2020 was a year like no other. With a global pandemic, economic turmoil and political disruption, insurers had change coming at them from all directions. While we saw an initial retrenching early in the year, once insurers ran through the scenarios and felt more confident in their ability to handle future change, we saw technology investments accelerate – especially in those areas focused on customer communications and the use of data.

We think new technology investments will continue to be directed towards three major themes:

  • Digital transformation: digitizing channels to grow sales and deliver an engaging customer experience remains a major topic in life and health insurers agenda.
  • Data, analytics and artificial intelligence: deploying data and artificial intelligence techniques is highly important to life and health insurers desiring to improve their underwriting results and other fundamentals of their business. Artificial intelligence will increasingly become a core part of a typical project and no longer an exercise in “innovation”.
  • Legacy and ecosystem transformation: rationalizing the application architecture using new techniques to advance productivity helps insurers improve efficiency of their information systems and decrease the cost to maintain their system landscape. The use of microservices, the move to the cloud, and changing processes within an organization each create new opportunities for insurers.


Optimizing core insurance processes via smart automation and offering customers digital interaction touchpoints have been a focus of life and health insurers CIOs recently. As they are building their ecosystem leveraging APIs and emerging technology providers, life and health insurers continue to put the digitization of the customer experience at the center of their preoccupations.

The lock down period and keeping social distance have demonstrated that online interactions are important if insurers want to be able to generate new business and continue to service their clients in such circumstances. Logically life and health insurers want to accelerate initiatives that support digital and virtual capabilities as we already observed.

In 2021, we will continue our exploration of insurers digital transformation initiatives through case studies focusing on customer experience transformation, digital and emerging technologies notably as part of our 2021 Model Insurer program. In addition, we will identify how life and health insurers further digitize their business and what technologies will be considered particularly important to them including among others, low and no-code technology platforms, APIs and of course the cloud models.


Data, analytics, and artificial intelligence are technologies that life and health insurers have increased investments in, and we anticipate still more activities in this domain in the next couple of years. The usage of legacy data sources combined with new alternative data sources are transforming underwriting, policy application approval, and issuance. Insurers are exploring using wearables and APIs for access to third party data, with automated documentation processing to expediate policy decisions and issuance for instance. In 2020, we have started to cover new technology domains in relation to data and Artificial Intelligence such as MLOps.

We think it is important we help our life and health insurance clients better understand all the concepts in relation to the data, analytics and Artificial Intelligence topic. Our objective for 2021 will be to publish deeper insights on how life and health insurers innovate leveraging Machine Learning and more generically Artificial Intelligence technologies. We will also continue to explain how specific technologies such as speech and image recognition, natural language understanding, generation and processing can have a major impact on life and health insurers processes.


Despite some delays and cost reduction programs being put in place early on following the COVID outbreak, we anticipate a continued focus on efficiency in software delivery, leading to greater cloud adoption levels, greater use of open source, and greater use of agile techniques. The days of multi-year multi-million transformation projects, although still in existence today, are somewhat numbered as insurers look for faster delivery timescales at lower price points. But overall, many life and health insurers still have to deal with the legacy challenge.

Life and health insurers understand they will have to modernize their legacy systems sooner or later. Key questions include:

  • What approach to consider between a big bang and a full replacement of these systems or a wave-by-wave approach?
  • What technologies such as the cloud, APIs, microservices, DevOps can help them build a cost-efficient and easy-to-maintain ecosystem environment.
  • Which are the systems offered on the market as well as the IT services vendors that can help them reach their target architecture and make their legacy modernization program a success.

We see cloud deployment models gaining traction in life and health insurance as they continue to evaluate drivers and inhibitors for this technology.

In 2021, our objective is to provide more insights to our subscribers on the life and health insurers’ approaches to modernize the legacy environment, the technologies at play and the vendors that can be relevant partners in this difficult journey.


In our 15th annual Model Insurer program, from close to 100 nominations of exceptionally high quality, we recognized 18 winners on March 11th at our annual Innovation and Insight event.

We published detailed case studies for each winning initiative in five technology categories:

  • Customer experience transformation,
  • Data, analytics and Artificial Intelligence,
  • Digital and emerging technologies,
  • Innovation execution, and
  • Legacy and eco-system transformation.

All of the Model Insurer 2021 case studies are accessible here. Also, if you are interested to submit a nomination to our Model Insurer 2022 program, the nomination is open. It will close on the 15th of October 2021. You can submit your nomination here: Online Nomination Form.

Contact us for more information about what we have planned in Q4.

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