InsureTech Connect 2019 Conference Reflections
This was my first year at the three-day InsureTech Connect (ITC) conference in Las Vegas, an exuberant experience — it was the immersion of ITC; Las Vegas had nothing to do with it (wink wink, nudge nudge). There are three things that I took away from the conference. First, agency distribution is on a lot of people’s radar, and it’s not just about agent displacement. Second, vendors of integrated platforms are simplifying the insurance customers’ discovery, ownership, and engagement experience. Third, AI-based platforms are ushering in new ways to capitalize on the proliferation of insurance-related data.
Insurance Agencies Aren’t Going Anywhere Anytime Soon — Technology Will Enable Tomorrow’s Agency
I have said this before, and after attending ITC, I think I will shout it more loudly now. As I am presently writing research on the future of the insurance agent, I was truly excited to see that this year’s ITC event had a day dedicated to insurance agencies, Agency Connect; how fortuitous was this! If you attended ITC in the past (the event has been going on for five years now), then you recall that the “word on the street” is that it catered primarily to carriers. Agency Connect was held the first day of ITC, so I spent the bulk of my first day listening to agency stalwarts and engaging panels on topics such as building the agency of the future and the evolution of distribution. So, two thumbs up to Jay Weintraub, CEO of ITC, for planning this event; he must have known that I was planning to attend (smiley face). In addition to these sessions, I discovered some very interesting startups that are bringing AI-enabled business models to agency distribution. For example, InsureLife.io uses psychological and behavioral data from its proprietary algorithms and AI models to predict its customers’ key life events and insurance needs, then connects its customers to its agents via video, voice, or chat.
Integrated Platforms Will Elevate CX And Make Insurance Ecosystems More Effective
For agencies and carriers alike, legacy systems and processes have been a tremendous obstacle to digital transformation. As such, there continues to be great interest in helping carriers and their producers integrate disparate systems and capabilities, as doing so will enable seamless experiences for consumers and drive profitability through operational efficiencies. A highlight during the conference was State Farm and Salesforce’s announcement of their collaboration to transform State Farm’s customer experience (CX), enabling the carrier to deliver intelligence-driven CX across every touchpoint. Helping carriers and agencies become smarter about their customers, but also partnering more closely with other stakeholders through technology, is central in tomorrow’s insurance ecosystem. Yes, the sector has been slow to invest in digital technology and formulate effective ecosystem strategies, but the past is past and the future is NOW; with the emphasis on connecting ecosystems, things are looking very interesting for carriers, their agency partners, and customers alike.
There Are Myriad AI Applications In Insurance — Maturation Is What We Need
Artificial intelligence is a burgeoning technology that holds great promise for the sector. Much of the emphasis remains on helping customers discover and explore insurance and helping carriers combat fraud and pay claims faster. For example, Shift Technology uses AI for fraud detection and claims automation; Binah.ai’s AI applications leverage camera-equipped devices to provide insurers real-time insights into clients’ well-being and heart rates; Ajira AI uses AI to expedite claims settlement; and Boost.ai’s conversational AI boosts customer service as customers explore insurance. It was great to see the energy that startups are giving to the advancement of AI applications in insurance. As AI building blocks and companies’ AI capabilities mature, applications of AI will undoubtedly affect how insurance is sold and serviced in tomorrow’s insurance marketplace.
So, in closing, my first year at ITC was extremely rewarding. There was so much to do (networking, breakouts, speeches) but so little time to do it in. I am looking forward to next year’s event — particularly to see if the event interest remains strong (7,000-plus attended this year) and what new capabilities (such as platform capabilities, integration techniques, and AI solutions) come to market.
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