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セレント・アナリストによるInsuretech Connect 2021の概括

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2021/10/14
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Analysts' Takeaways from Insuretech Connect 2021

Last week we attended Insuretech Connect conference 2021. A landmark event that brought together more than six thousand people representing incumbents, insurtech entrepreneurs, venture capital firms, influencers and regulators, in a single place alltogether to improve the industry through the use of technology. The conference also had an on-line option with around 545 people registered.

Most of the Celent team attended on-site, and we had a few attend the sessions on-line. I found this really useful, as we were able to maximize our on-site presence to engage with other participants, while also benefit of the combination of on-line and on-site sessions to take the pulse of the industry. I personally had 79 unique interactions while at the conference, with many of them becoming multiple interactions throughout - and I know the others on the team were similarly busy. Hard to mimic this level of engagement through on-line meetings!

ITC Exhibit Hall

Over 120 sessions were held at ITC this year. The day previous to the conference, Celent hosted its pre-conference session with around 200 people attending, which meant having a full room with a few standing at the first session and having a well attended room throughout the rest of the day. We did also enjoy hosting a couple of panels as part of the general ITC agenda. More to come soon on this as we cover in more detail, in an upcoming report, the most relevant sessions attended by our analysts team.

Celent sessions at ITC

Celent sessions at ITC. "Transform or be transformed" (left) and "The evolution of digital direct distribution" (right)

With so many things happening at ITC, and now that the dust has settled, we went around the horn to get a synthethized view from our analysts; their key takeaways from the conference. So, here we go.

Rob Norris
Senior Analyst
  • Partnerships: While the theme in earlier years has been how insuretech startups would disrupt established carriers, there is a greater spirit of partnership this year. Carriers recognize the need to take new technologies and new ways of doing business seriously, and startups recognize they need to partner with carriers more on their terms.

  • Distribution innovation: Digital agents and brokers , as well as platforms, exchanges, etc., are in the driver’s seat when it comes to distribution innovation, and carriers are becoming more adept at integrating with them.

  • Executing on innovation: Carriers are realizing the key to insuretech innovation is to change the way they innovate: digital product-led, human-centered design; long-term vision but small, incremental experiments; and modern architectures that support rapid development.

Andrew Schwartz
Analyst
  • Customer experience is currently a top priority for many carriers as it is still a place where there is much room for improvement. A Tier 1 CIO says his firm lives by the words of Steve Jobs: “You've got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology.”

  • Insurtechs still have much room for growth. In a keynote session, the speaker said the combined market capitalization of all insurtechs is presently less that that of PayPal. However, the general demand is skewing towards solutions that are focused on solving basic business problems (i.e., subrogation, document management) rather than those playing more aspirational areas.

  • Real-time pricing for risk is becoming a reality. This is enabled through better use and access to data, enhanced underwriting practices, and a rise in digital agents.

Keith Raymonds
Senior Analyst
  • Vendor partnerships: I definitely agree with all Rob’s point especially the partnership bullet and I would add to it that the vendors in the space are in the same place as the carriers; many are looking to partnerships as a way to grow as well, especially at the pace the industry is currently moving at. This applies to both, insuretech startups and more mature providers of solutions or services.

  • Digital, digital, digital. If you aren’t in the process, planning or executing digital capability then you best get out of the way because you will be left behind. Obviously the insuretech sector will emphasize this but happy to see that many established vendors are moving at light speed to enhance existing or build/planning new digital capabilities.

  • It’s all about the data. A large number of vendors and insuretech’s representing data and analytics. Existing and new data sources to be tapped for such things as embedded insurance and underwriting.

Dan McCoach
Head of Insurance - L&H
  • Experiences must be holistic: The experience for the producer and the customer carry equal weight. Irrespective of the service channel—online, offline, chat, web, social, or over the phone—customers must feel a coordinated experience and recognize value.

  • Building vs. partnering: Digital transformation tools are now, clearly ubiquitous and available “off the shelf”, but are insurers still trying to build it themselves? The benefit of partnering is not only an accelerated delivery, but the infusion of innovation and technical expertise.

  • It’s a marathon, not a sprint: Persistence is key. This year’s ITC had a vibe that is reflecting a maturing market for early entrants who were startups 3 years ago. This is very good news for longevity sceptics and means that insures must get beyond just a ”cool use case” by pursuing solutions that must expand their enterprise value—adding increasing value over time.

Karlyn Carnahan
Head of Insurance - P&C
  • Agents and brokers are getting more involved in the insurtech world: Using new digital tools to create process efficiencies and reduce expenses. None more important than data! Agents are starting to use AI against their own submission data to better select markets ( who actually writes this) in order to avoid work, to leverage insurers for better pay, to improve their own sales through propensity analytics etc. But this data is valuable when you have scale - meaning the larger the agent, the more valuable the data - if they have the tools to use it. We’ve seen M&A in the insurer world grow - partially based on the aging workforce and now also, on the need for scale. I could foresee a time when the brokers are selling data back to the carriers to help them understand their own pricing, selection, appetite, success rates.

Juan Mazzini
Senior Analyst
  • Maturity of insurtech: We now know what works and doesn't. Insurtech startups have figured this out, in some cases evolving into a tech player rather than staying just as an insurance player (i.e., Haven Life launches Haven Technologies, following other similar plays from Slice Labs, Trov, Zhong An just to mention a few). Insurers know that they have to look for their next partner in the exhibit hall rather than the sessions. And while back in 2017 at ITC, there weren’t many startups looking to compete with insurers among the participants, this has changed this year (who didn't notice the green t-shirts of the Hippo gang everywhere?). These neo insurers claim their share of attention as they grow in size and test their business models at scale.

  • Execution kills novelty: Nothing new in terms of technology for insurers, but a few insurance models enabled by technology growing in relevance. Think about the different flavors of embedded insurance, parametric insurance, digital partnerships, and risk sharing models. Success is now measured by the capacity to execute at scale. Looking beyond product and market fit, into risk fit; enabled by technology but being a risk taker in the core (unless you are in the distribution side of the business).

  • Show me the money (Part II): Back in 2017 I reflected post-ITC that the industry needed to see successful, profitable, stories to sustain investments in insurtech startups. While some (neo) insurers could be seen as a success from an investment perspective, there is still some way to go until they can demonstrate sustained profitability. For now, their valuations represent, at most, the potential they have to grow their portfolios. Those few that are showing profits are either niche (neo) insurers that operate at low cost or jumbo (neo) insurers that use the scale of their ecosystems and partners.

There is much more as you get into the details of each session. For that reason the team is putting together a report, available to Celent subscription customers, covering over 60 sessions we attended and that we found as the most relevant ones happening at ITC.

Please reach out to us if you want to find more about what is trending or what's the next cool thing to happen in insurtech.

PS: [Update Oct 19, 2021] A couple of days after this blog post was published I had the chance to share my views on ITC and more broadly the use of technology in insurance in this podcast (in spanish)

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