Insurance, the hottest area of fintech

Recently, our attention was drawn by an article written by Oscar Williams-Grut for Business Insider magazine. "4 VCs were asked what the hottest area of fintech is right now — all they could talk about was insurance."*  To dig a little deeper in the buzz around insurance, we invited Rudi Strobbe, responsible for innovation at the “Customer & Data” department of AXA Belgium, for an interview. 

B-Hive: according to the cited article, insurance remains one of the few areas of finance that is still stubbornly old-fashioned. However, the market has high expectation for the development of insurtech during 2017. Do you think the industry can match this prediction? 

Rudi Strobbe: the insurance industry is facing all kinds of challenges. Not only in their market share, where they are under attack by start-ups like Lemonade, Trov, Oscar and others, but also on a financial level, where they need to tackle the low-interest rate environment and the need to cut their operational cost. 
By adapting new technologies, like blockchain, Artificial intelligence and IOT, insurance companies could improve many of their older processes, which often carry a legacy burden. Now, to answer your question, will this all be handled in 2017?
Probably not. But it is quite obvious that all insurers are investigating the numerous possibilities, because it can, and should be, a win-win situation. Better and faster service for the clients, combined with a more automated (and thus cheaper) process on the business side.

B-Hive: the two words of the decade for product development have being “consumer centric”. Based on this, how can the insurance market correspond to this demand, and keep being competitive without losing revenue? 

Rudi Strobbe: it’s a given fact that the customer expectation has changed. It is no longer accepted to wait several days for a response on a question or a claim. People expect immediate response, either from their broker or from the company itself.
If the insurance industry can adapt to “delight” consumers at every step along the customer journey:  from the policy selection process, policy application and underwriting process, policy monitoring and claims service, then the insurance industry will really move forward.

B-Hive: several new technologies are appearing in the fintech scene every year. Which technologies are most promising for insurance?

Rudi Strobbe: main technologies on my radar are: (Open or partnerships) API’s, Distributed ledger, IOT (in cars & homes) and self-learning systems (AI) combined with next level data analytics capabilities.
But I would say: Let’s first start by defining the problems and then see what technology can be used to tackle it.  Technology should be a means not an end.

B-Hive: why does it make sense for insurance companies to work together with hubs, as B-Hive? What do you expect to gain from this partnership? 

Rudi Strobbe: most off all, it is an opportunity to work together on items that concerns the whole industry and our clients in general. Creating an ecosystem, where we can define common problems and build solutions much faster and at a lower cost than doing it all by ourselves, seems a worthwhile challenge.

B-Hive: to conclude our interview, could you give us your opinion about the partnerships between established corporations and new startups around insurtech? 

Rudi Strobbe: It is in all our interest to learn from each other and potentially combine those learnings to offer a better customer experience. Just an example: As an insurer, we can learn from the start-up insurtechs on how to use lean startup methodologies. In exchange, we have experience and legal knowledge to offer in return.

* Business Insider

Rudi Strobbe Self-taught Technologist, Innovation scout, Master degree in Photography, movie fan and father. With 3 decades of experience in banking and insurance @AXA and a passion for #selfdrivingcars, Universal Basic Income (#UBI), #AI and #sustainability. On a mission to build bridges to other companies and peers. A "connector" as Gladwell describes in "Tipping Point" (according to some ;-)) Favorite quote: “Everything has beauty, but not everyone can see.” –Confucius