Many recent perspectives have stated that COVID-19 is a game changer for all industries, and insurance is no exception. Our recent research on the Refund on digital innovation and us Insurance Consumer Studies continues to focus on cloud, the importance of sustainability and the client’s demands for digital, personal experiences.
Our Digital Payback piece in particular grouped innovations into five different categories. I will use these categories as a framework to take a closer look at how insurers’ focus on innovation changed in 2020 in response to COVID-19, both in terms of speed and digital strategy.
Digital innovation: products and services
We have developed a Digital Innovation Tracker for 2020, focusing on COVID-19 related digital innovation case studies from leading global insurance companies.
If we look at the data, more than 40% of digital innovations were a digital product or service – compared to about 25% of the innovations of the same businesses in previous years. This is not surprising, as COVID-19 had an immediate need for digital channels, which forced many businesses to speed up their digital plans.
Case study: In September 2020, Allstate has rapidly advanced its touchless claims technology in response to the pandemic. It has added satellite technology and high-speed internet to its mobile claims centers, providing on-site support so customers can submit claims quickly. Allstate has also begun using aerial photographs and other virtual tools to assess home damage and photos for virtual car damage inspections without having face-to-face interaction. To round off their hands-free environment, customers can touch digital payments.
Digital innovation: customer experience
The pandemic has seen dramatic changes in the way insurers engage and force traffic with their clients, with a clear pursuit of digital, contactless interactions.
From a subject perspective, 55% of the digital innovations we analyze relate to health insurance or healthcare. This is compared to only 15% of the years before the crisis. Again, this is not a surprise, as the health of customers and their families puts the pandemic in the spotlight.
Case study: May 2020 was only a few months after the severity of COVID-19 became clear. Anthem quickly developed a free Coronavirus Assessment on his mobile app to help clients evaluate symptoms and determine their risk for COVID-19. Based on the results, Anthem will connect customers with a doctor via text message or video calls. This is in addition to a number of policy changes, such as waiving the refund, weakening early prescriptions for prescriptions and abolishing costs for telehealth visits. Anthem turned the pandemic into an opportunity to strengthen its commitment to social good and deepen customer relationships.
Digital innovation: organizational innovation DNA
Interestingly, we also saw that more than 40% of COVID-19 innovations were realized through partnerships. Since speed and accuracy are crucial to responding to the pandemic, it makes sense for insurers to work with companies that have already established digital offerings, rather than building something new, which can take months or even years.
Case study: Although technically not a business, Lloyd’s from London added 10 insurtechs to its Lab Innovation Accelerator program in August 2020. Their focus was COVID-19: creating new types of insurance related to the pandemic, evaluating COVID-19 risks and helping customers adapt to remote work.
Digital innovation: distribution
Insurance companies building ecosystems to benefit customers are not new, but they have been accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis. The need to build stakeholder relationships, not all of which seek commercial gain, became crucial when COVID-19 devastated the world
Case study: PZU in Poland develops and distributes ‘life bands’ from May 2020. These devices analyze the vital signs of a remote patient (pulse, temperature, etc.). If this vitality reaches a dangerous level, a noise is activated and a warning is sent to medical personnel. This is an example of an important ecosystem between PZU, hospitals and patients, designed to combat the impact of COVID-19, especially for higher risk patients.
Digital innovation: internal processes and capabilities
About one-fifth of the digital solutions launched by global leading insurers in 2020 have focused on the safety and needs of their employees. COVID-19 was not just limited to customers – it completely strengthened the way we work and deal with our employers.
Case study: In April 2020, Aon has launched an app for employers to provide medical costs, absenteeism and to identify the possible need for relocations due to the spread of the coronavirus. The app uses demographics about employee populations and other people covered by the employer’s health plan. Combined with geographic infection rates, employers can estimate the impact of COVID-19 on their employees, giving employers the chance to keep their employees safe and hum the operations.
These five case studies are just a few examples of how the insurance industry has dealt with the pandemic crisis. Covid-19 has encouraged businesses to digitally transform business models and operations, while focusing on helping society and employees. We have seen businesses of all sizes adapt at unprecedented speed and scale. If we look ahead to a post-COVID world, many of these activities will continue. We will determine whether the speed and extent of these innovations remain at this everyday peak, or that the industry slows down once the pandemic is over.
Thanks to Accenture Research for his contributions to this blog post. www.accenture.com/research