2021 will certainly deliver many surprises, but ten trends – including ‘giant growth’, a race to green, the shift to user-based coverage and Bitcoin as a new asset class – seem to have a major impact on the insurance industry coming year.
The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us of the folly of trying to predict the future. But it also helped us to imagine what that future might look like.
Few people predicted at the beginning of 2020 the devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic around the world. It overshadowed everything that happened last year. All the predictions of economic analysts, market researchers and investment gurus were overwhelmed by a global event that almost no one saw coming.
If we look ahead to what 2021 could hold, it’s good to remember how unpredictable our world really is. If it were not so, we would not have needed insurance. Our livelihood depends on uncertainty.
What major events are going to shake around the world in the next 12 months? Changing in geo-politics, economic surprises, technological breakthroughs, another pandemic? We do not know. However, we can identify the main trends that emerge after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unforeseen global or regional events may still affect the progress of these evolving trends, but they are already gaining momentum. Many of them were accelerated by the pandemic. By locating them early, insurers can adapt their businesses to the changing needs of their customers and deliver new, potentially profitable, products and services.
Here are ten trends that I will be making a huge impact on the insurance industry in 2021.
Trend 1: Increase in health and wellness services
The COVID-19 pandemic has put health and well-being at the forefront of customers. Insurers have responded by strengthening their traditional medical and life coverage with a range of digital health and wellness products and services. Carriers that quickly establish a strong presence in the health ecosystem will gain a huge advantage over competitors.
Trend 2: Phygital becomes the standard
Digital service and distribution channels will remove the traditional channels of the airline as the primary point of customer engagement, but the input of physical channels and experts will still be sought after for advice on complex decisions and offers. Consumers flocked to the use of digital services during the pandemic, and few people will return to their previous habits. Digital services seamlessly combined with physical experiences, especially on mobile platforms, will be the most important distinction when buying consumer insurance. Service providers that are slowly introducing enticing digital offerings will lose customers.
Trend 3: More insurers go beyond insurance
Advances in digital technology offer a variety of opportunities for insurers eager to expand beyond their traditional markets. The low premium income and low investment returns predicted in 2021 will accelerate this trend. Expect airlines to announce some surprising partnerships because they want to expand their revenue base.
Trend 4: Niche products shine
Insurers have launched a series of innovative risk management offerings following the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand for custom products, such as continuity coverage for small businesses, cyber threat protection, pandemic insurance and cancellation policies, will increase. The interest in insurance products aimed at specific demographic groups, such as young adults or pensioners, will be particularly strong, and it offers partnership opportunities between the established and the workers.
Trend 5: The giants will grow
Innovative new insurers have enjoyed the spotlight over the past few years and received substantial funding. However, traditional transport companies will emerge this year. Their asset strength and extensive internal resources will enable them to withstand potentially unfavorable economic conditions and secure new income opportunities. The insurance industry is likely to see significant mergers and acquisitions in 2021.
Trend 6: Trust becomes non-negotiable
Consumer confidence will become a critical feature of business in 2021. Consumers will not only expect their providers to provide good service and value for money, but also to protect their personal information. What’s more, they will expect their suppliers to behave ethically in all facets of their businesses. Insurers who believe they have breached their customers’ trust are suffering significant reputational damage.
Trend 7: Sustainability is the future
Insurers will come under increasing pressure this year to demonstrate their support for sustainability initiatives tackling climate change, environmental pollution and social injustice. Manufacturers who are proactive and make visible changes in their organizations to address these issues and become truly ‘sustainable insurers’ will outperform competitors. They will strengthen their brand and avoid having to meet the regulatory requirements that are later mandatory.
Trend 8: Accelerate race to ‘green’
As fossil fuels continue to lose favor among regulators, shareholders and consumers, insurers will increase their commitments to green energy. Expect some carriers to sever ties with fossil fuel companies. Car insurers are likely to introduce more incentives for their customers to switch to electric cars. Some may advertise their intention to no longer provide coverage for petrol and diesel vehicles.
Trend 9: Fixed premiums lapse
The demand for payment insurance services will increase as more and more consumers enjoy the flexibility and cost savings that this new offering offers. Expect at least one major car insurer to waive fixed premiums and switch completely to usage fees. Other carriers will follow soon.
Trend 10: Cryptocurrencies are gaining traction
As low interest rates continue to dampen the investment returns of insurers, carriers will increasingly look at the possibility of adding new asset classes to their portfolios. Cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, are endorsed by a growing number of financial services companies. MassMutual recently invested US $ 100 million in Bitcoin for its general investment fund. Expect many other entrepreneurs to start adding cryptocurrencies to their investment portfolios.
Whatever the coming year, I’m sure it will bring a lot of surprises. Let me know if you think I’m one of the trends I’ve identified. Send me a message. I would like to hear your views.
Until then, I wish you a prosperous and rewarding 2021.