Finance

THE FUTURE OF LIFE INSURANCE: How insurtechs are tackling this notoriously tricky area of insurance

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Life insurance is a fundamentally hard product to sell, as it requires people to think about their deaths and promises no immediate rewards.

The way life insurance is sold makes it doubly unattractive, as consumers have to go through an paper-based, lengthy application process and a bothersome medical exam, with little guidance from their providers, and often at high cost. The problem is worsened by incumbent insurers’ failure to innovate, even as personalized products and streamlined services proliferate in other areas of finance.

Now, though, a small yet growing niche of insurtech startups is now finding different ways to digitize life insurance to make it more appealing. Life insurance-focused startups are tackling a number of problems with the status quo, including a lack of consumer understanding of the product, inconvenient application processes, weak customer loyalty, and inefficient data management and processing. Some are focused on improving products for consumers, while others are helping insurers to modernize. These startups are giving incumbents a way to revamp this product, either by partnering these companies or using their technology.

But these life insurtechs are shaking up a strictly regulated and sensitive product, and their solutions carry regulatory and ethical risks. That means such companies, and any insurers using their solutions, must take measures to make sure these new services add value to the industry. Nevertheless, life insurtechs are likely to spearhead change in this space, with incumbents following suit. Such startups will set new industry standards and consumer expectations around this complex product. That, in turn, will serve as a catalyst for innovation among legacy insurers.

In a new report, BI Intelligence looks at the major players in the global life insurance industry, the problems (for consumers and providers) in the life insurance status quo, how insurtechs are revamping the life insurance space and giving the product a new lease of life, best practices for both startup and incumbent life insurance innovators, and what the future of the life insurance space will look like as fintech makes its presence felt in it.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • The need for innovation in life insurance has never been clearer — life insurance sales on the whole are slowing, and policy ownership is hitting record lows. A lack of consumer understanding, inconvenient application procedures, low customer loyalty, and old IT systems are denting providers’ returns.
  • Life insurtechs are looking to revamp the space in two key ways: Consumer-focused players focus on eliminating the pain points that put consumers off buying life insurance coverage, while insurer-focused startups offer ways to improve processes and operations for the providers that still dominate much of the market.
  • There are some risks attached to bringing technologies not typically used in insurance into this tightly-regulated space, but life insurers can adopt best practices to mitigate them and reap rewards, like: getting full customer approval to use their data, hiring tech-savvy compliance teams, and prioritize customer education about the product. Startups, meanwhile, should pick incumbent partners carefully.
  • Incumbents’ activity in life insurance innovation to date has been limited to implementing some shiny new technologies, largely on the front-end. If life insurance incumbents want to stay relevant, they’ll have to invest in the core systems needed to give them the freedom to innovate and introduce changes on their own terms.

In full, the report:

  • Looks at the world’s biggest and most innovative life insurance markets, and trends they’re setting for the space.
  • Explains the major inefficiencies embedded in the life insurance status quo, and the problems they’re causing providers and consumers.
  • Outlines the two main strategies life insurtechs are adopting to drive change in this market, for the benefit of buyers and sellers of life insurance.
  • Discusses the best practices life insurance incumbents and startups should adopt to steer clear of the risks still attached to applying emerging technologies to such a tightly regulated product.
  • Gives an overview of what the rise of life insurtechs has in store for the life insurance space going forward.

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