“This is for everyone”

The famous phrase that has its roots in the “invention” of the internet in 1991. It was also famously tweeted by the internet’s “creator” Tim Berners-Lee at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics in 2012.

But what does that have to do with insurance?

Money flowing in

Insurance, possibly not a huge amount. However, when we talk about the new tech emerging in the consumer-facing insurance space, whether you want to call it insurtech or not, it becomes more relevant.

We’re at a moment in the evolution of consumer insurtech where reality hasn’t yet bitten. Billions of dollars worldwide are flowing into all sorts of tech startups, including insurtech. Many of them promise a vision of an inter-connected, inter-dependent relationship with insurance customers the like of which we have never seen before. Trust will be built, cynicism eroded and, therefore, long-term loyalty will naturally result.

The premise of a closer, more open, efficient relationship should, of course, deliver more loyal customers. They’ll be so overwhelmed by such an utterly pleasant insurance-buying experience how could they even contemplate going back to the dark ages? Except for two rather important factors.

Firstly, and I hate to burst any insuro-phile’s bubble, this is insurance we’re talking about. Probably about the least welcome annual or one-off purchase anyone “wants” to make. Firstly it’s not like buying a new gadget, or booking a holiday or sending a loved-one a romantic message. Insurance is something that often, if the law didn’t require you to buy it, or you didn’t have an irrational fear of something going wrong, would be way down the list of what you’d actually want to spend your money on.

So you’re starting from a pretty weak point in the first place.

Secondly, this new cosy relationship you’re going to build with a customer who doesn’t really want to buy what you’re selling … what is it you’re actually selling? And this is where the “This is for everyone” mantra comes into play.

Who is getting it right?

With very few exceptions, no insurtech proposition out there currently looks after every aspect your traditional insurance package currently provides. There are one or two “full” motor insurance tech solutions I can think of and a similar number of home insurance offerings too. The vast majority though can only offer you cover for an individual item, or a select number of categories of items that you would otherwise insure under, for example, a regular Buildings and Contents policy. So not only do you have to be lured into insurtech’s loving clasp enough to try it out, even when you’ve tried it out, you still have to deal with 20th century ways of buying, renewing or making a claim through what has become your “main” traditional insurance provider. Even worse, you now probably have to get in touch with them to cancel the cover you’ve just bought through the bright shiny app on your phone.

That, is most definitely, not for everyone. I’m not going to laud the one (US-based) clear example of getting it right because even they, in their carefully choreographed pilot and roll-out programme are very clear to point out that what they offer isn’t for everyone. However, if what they offer is right for you, then at least you can ditch your old insurance provider and focus 100% of your love and attention on a new relationship via the medium that is your smartphone.

For everyone else that is relying on good will, early adopters or just plain old curiosity to drive their insurtech business plan, good luck but, for me, there’s very little light at the end of that tunnel.

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