Whether the topic was technology, climate change, consumer expectations or any of the other hot button issues influencing the insurance sector today, panellists at Fast Forward 2018, hosted by Gore Mutual in Toronto, had something to say about it.
The event brought together familiar Canadian faces, Rick Mercer and Peter Mansbridge, as keynote speakers to give inspiring talks to the hundreds of insurance professionals who attended Fast Forward this year. Then, during the Real Solutions portion of the day, industry experts from heavyweights like Munich Re and Deloitte, as well as major industry associations and companies pushing the envelope with digital innovation provided insight on challenges facing the sector and where we go from here.
The biggest emerging risk that no-one is prepared for? According to Hendrik Baumann, account executive at Munich Re, it’s not necessarily something the sector isn’t already aware of.
“[It’s] digitalization, and the way it actually fosters innovation and change in nearly every industry we are dealing with as a reinsurer and worldwide,” he said, during the Industry Outlook panel, while adding, “We’re seeing insurtech start-ups that are really analysing ours and the insurers’ value proposition and the value chain.”
While Baumann explained that Munich Re mostly works with insurtechs that optimize the user experience and don’t necessarily replace the insurance professional, he highlighted getting access to the insurtech world and developing a business product with that technology as an area of ongoing concern.
The consumer, meanwhile, isn’t waiting for insurance companies to catch up with how they deliver their products and services.
“It’s the unknown-unknowns that I think we need to be exceptionally worried about. The client base, the customer base is changing. In the next federal election, millennials will make up the largest voting bloc, they’re going to make up the largest buying bloc,” said Don Forgeron (pictured, middle), president and CEO of the Insurance Bureau of Canada. “What they want is different than what we want, or how they want it is different.”
This generation is more motivated to find new options if their current solution isn’t working anymore, and they’re not as willing to be loyal to one company, according to Forgeron, who added that insurance is an old-fashioned industry that’s been slow to change and this particular “unknown-unknown” should be keeping the sector up at night.
Mukul Ahuja, senior manager for Monitor Deloitte, echoed Forgeron’s concerns in the following panel on technology and the customer experience. After a recent survey of over a thousand customers that delved into their mindset when it comes, in part, to insurance, the company found several major shifts, including that people get more value from experiences rather than assets, they’ve shifted from ownership to usage models, they no longer find the one-size-fits-all solution highly desired, and they care about what their networks – whether it’s family, friends, or social media contacts – think.
The seemingly endless list of challenges facing the industry and how to address them is exactly why Gore Mutual decided to hold Fast Forward in the first place last year.
“Technology was changing, customer expectations were changing, and a lot of the brokers were trying to sort out what that meant, so [we wanted to] host an event that helped brokers filter through that,” said Igor Bubic, director of marketing, communications and digital at Gore Mutual.
The point of the event was not to scare insurance professionals in attendance that there’s nothing to be done about mounting pressures.
“What we’d like them to walk away with is a sense of maybe some urgency and maybe a sense of hope,” Bubic told Insurance Business. “We don’t want to go in there, and tell the ‘doom and gloom’ story and get them anxious about technology, but what we want to do is say, there’s an opportunity, there’s a community here between us, our broker partners, and insurtechs to develop those solutions.”