Event Recap: Best in Class Digital Life Insurance

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21 October 2021
Dan McCoach

Peer Networking Event

Best in Class Digital Insurance - A Celent Peer Networking Event Recap

On Wednesday, October 20, Celent welcomed 20 life insurance leaders in virtual peer-networking conference for an insurers-only opportunity to discuss what best-in-class digital insurance might look like for those pursuing transformation (now that we are 18 months past the innovation-inducing shocks of the COVID pandemic).

The event was hosted by members of the Celent Life insurance team—Dan McCoach, Karen Monks, Colleen Risk and Keith Raymond—and featured two deeply knowledgeable perspectives from Jackie Morales, Industry Expert and former CIO at Bestow, and Nondini Naqui, Value Stream Owner, Offer & Engage, at John Hancock.

Dan McCoach kicked off the event by providing overview of Celent’s recent research into the durability of the impacts of the pandemic (Importance of Customer Experience in Life Insurance)—particularly its impact on innovation for the customers’ and agents’ experience. Dan reviewed the size of the underserved US market for protection products and the $40B in potential premium it represents for insurers (Reimagining Life Insurance). We presented analysis for shopping behavior of the underprotected cohort. Many expect to research and engage with insurance companies in very different ways. Their experience and omni-channel expectations and deeper engagement are critical to their capture as new customers. We made use of and referenced the Customer Engagement Continuum, a framework developed for Celent's report Catching Up In Life: The Customer Engagement Continuum—it provides a roadmap for insurers to follow for their own engagement platform ideas.

Jackie Morales presented a fascinating perspective based on her direct observations of the impact of COVID-19 on the life insurance industry’s new business and underwriting innovation—animating insights that only a hands-on executive could articulate from her direct experience at Bestow. She reviewed what it meant to be in the midst of the action during the height of the pandemic, and what it will mean as we move forward. Her key points were that the pandemic provided unique opportunities to distribute life insurance and that “chance favors the prepared”. Many insurtech’s were well positioned to capitalize on their investments in full-stack, digital capabilities as direct-capture platforms or as partners in an ecosystem to sell insurance. The world was in lock-down and customers needed a digital-only source for coverage from an all-digital (e-everything) platform. The results have been material with greater than 400% growth for many.

Nondini Naqui, Value Stream Owner, Offer & Engage, John Hancock began her well-crafted review of John Hancock’s digital transformation efforts by pointing out that incumbents have incredible strengths to leverage in their heritage and longevity. Incumbents today benefit from their reputations for financial strength, trust, reliability, peace of mind and deep brand recognition. However, incumbents must face the hard truths that they (and the industry in general) do not do several key things very well, including true innovation, engaging buying experiences, and deeper customer engagement.

John Hancock’s Continuous Delivery Organization (CDO) is making a difference by transforming the organization’s operating model through increased speed and agility, and by delivering better customer outcomes across the entire customer journey—from acquisition to servicing and through to claims. Nondini highlighted how the CDO is breaking down silos and working with business partners to deliver new solutions that address customer needs at every touchpoint in their journey. John Hancock wants to make their goals simple and clear: “Insurance that is easy to buy and fun to own” by reimaging the buying process at every step, and engaging customers after the sale.

Nondini concluded with the important point that change is hard and that change management is really important, but with senior management commitment and cross-functional coordination, real progress is not only possible it’s imperative.

The panel fielded several great questions and an active dialogue occurred for practical implementation insights.

Dan concluded the day by reminding all participants of Celent’s key upcoming events including Life The publication of a new Previsory Reporting followed by a Previsory webinar for insurance on November 9th at 11am ET. And our flagship event in 2022—Celent’s Model Awards—highlighting initiatives with the best use of technology in Insurance. Winners will be announced at next year's Innovation and Insight event on March 15-17, 2022. Please visit to learn more.

The slides have been shared with approved registrants and attendees—Celent subscribers can access the video recording and slides for our Best in Class Life Insure event.

Insight details

Life & Health Insurance
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Insurance, >>Life/Annuities Insurance
Insight Format
Geographic Focus
North America