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Insurtech Spring 2021 Conference

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On March 10-11, InsurTech Hartford and InsurTech NY are teaming up and hosting InsurTech Spring 2021 Conference to talk about all things insurance innovation. This year’s conference will include thought leadership panels and several networking opportunities, as well as feature speakers from carriers and brokers making strides in startups that have impacted the industry. The virtual event will also talk about how macroeconomic and psychographic forces are shaping the way consumers buy from and interact with insurance brands

This expo marks the first time InsurTech Hartford has hosted a partnership with Insurtech NY, and will feature more than 75 speakers, up from 27 in 2020, and will be the second year in a row to conduct the entire conference virtually. The agenda consists of material surrounding the concept of a customer five years in the future, AI and digital transformation, and recent regulatory trends and changes.

Presentation Key Highlights: Day 1

Distribution Channel to Sell to the Consumer of 2025

Panel: Todd Rissel at e2Value, Denise Campbell at Marsh, Matt Grossberg at Integrated Specialty Coverages, Shereen Agrawal at Root Insurance, Yamini Bhat at Vymo, David Gritz at InsurTech NY

Customers are asking a lot more questions and want to take control and have some power over a big financial portion of their lives, and new consumers want to be way more informed. They want to be valued for their behavior and seek complete transparency on what data they’re sharing and why it matters. 

How to distribute to future consumers effectively: 

  • Word of mouth, lead generation (can predict behaviors up to three years in advance) 
  • Evaluate what type of customer a carrier is looking for
  • Truly understand the life cycle you’re trying to meet the customer in, as customers experience different needs as they age 

How COVID-19 has impacted distribution: 

  • People are scared and tend to cling to what they know, seeing a lot more renewals as opposed to shopping for new policies
  • Increasing the significance of brand awareness across all types of platforms 
  • Value of transparency within the organization and empowering employees with the tools they need to be successful from the get-go, even if that means coaching them on the fly 
  • The importance of developing a relationship with the customer from the beginning and maintaining that relationship with speed, interconnectivity and offering direct access

Automated Life Underwriting Solution for Everyone

Panel: Nichole Myers at Swiss Re, Natasha Alexeeva at Friendly, Luke Kaplan at Gallagher, Terence Martin at Conning Research

The significance of automation in underwriting, and first steps carriers can take in developing products: 

  • Automation in underwriting makes everyone’s jobs a little easier, saves on costs, and makes the experience better but it’s just a cog in the wheel; there’s a domino effect on how this could positively impact lead generation and actually contribute to a sale, so it’s important to tie things together across the entire company 
  • Deeply analyze distribution strategies and define what exactly will benefit your channels quickly, and then find places to expand 
  • Address the learning curve and the margin of error that machine learning can create; deploy systems that only require lightweight integration that doesn’t need too much IT support or starting with low-risk products first 

Startup Pitch Global InsurTech Competition

The 10 finalists of this year’s Global InsurTech Competition are Claimspace, Coverhero, Delos, Digisure, Dockflow, Finaeo, HealthyHealth, Loadsure, Tide Foundation, and Startsure. 

The three Bermuda Development Agency finalists are Coastal Risk Risk Footprint, RemitRix, and Safekeep. 

Building a Digital-First Insurance Experience 

Speaker: Jake Sloan from Appian

Key building blocks of a successful digital-first insurance experience:

  • Addressing the variety of journeys that a customer might experience and put controls in their hands
  • Clearly defining your customer in a 360-degree view: think of the customer’s mindset and needs, especially during hand-offs in the claims process 
  • Empowering employees: digitization isn’t purely an IT project, it’s an interconnected effort that can only succeed if everyone is on board and informed
  • Building for scale and create consistency, even if it means starting small and from scratch 

TED Talk: Diversity: The secret sauce for achieving financial outperformance

Speakers: Anuraag Sunder and Ira Ziff from The Insurance Recruiter

Having the right people is an important aspect of being a successful organization. Diversifying your employee base not only leads to more success, but it also drives innovation. Here are three ways a company can recruit the right and diverse talent and retain employees:

  1. Create a high def job description that clearly reflects your desired business outcomes, how do you want this employee to impact your business
  2. Leverage technology by deploying multitouch candidate outreach campaign to get the right people’s attention 
  3. Candidates tend to undervalue themselves, so develop insightful screening questions so you can rank those who are best aligned for the job role appropriately

Regulatory Trends for AI And Algorithm Bias

Panel: Audrey Samers from Chubb, John Pruitt from Eversheds Sutherland, George Alayon from Bermuda Monetary Authority, Jonathan Godfread from NAIC, and Cynthia Hardy from Pivot Global

AI and algorithms have made strides in developing and enhancing the underwriting process. Not only does AI better leverage organizations to focus their target on customers that they want, but AI also provides customers with better pricing by leveraging nontraditional data and eliminating human bias. But as AI continues to drive adoption in the underwriting industry, it’s crucial to know where the risks lie: AI is often perceived as a black box, and customers have fear of the unknown. 

To remedy this, regulars and innovators are finding a balance to encourage building trust with customers, as well as be transparent with what data is being collected, maintain open dialogue with everyone involved, and stay unbiased.

Presentation Key Highlights: Day 2

Emerging Trends in Digital Distribution

Panel: Bryan Falchuk of Insurance Evolution Partners, Ian Jeffrey of Breathe Life, Alicia Kern of Duck Creek, Jill Rasmussen of Amica, Rhonda Longo of Erie Insurance 

In this panel, industry experts talked about how there has been a shift in the industry from just offering a product to truly meeting the customer where they are in their life journey, and finding ways to get context and finding relevancy to appeal to their insurance needs. 

They also discussed how there has been a new challenge around supporting agents in the industry and how technology doesn’t necessarily eliminate the need for the human-to-human experience. As insurance carriers learn to adapt to digitization on the consumer side of the conversation, the panel talked about how it is just as important to find ways to keep agents aligned with the tools they need and stay in the loop.  

InsurTech’s Role in Responding to Climate Change

Panel: Dawn Leblanc of Rainmaking, Sashi Aiyathurai of Chubb, Sabine Vanderlinden of Alchemy Crew

Insurance companies are strategizing around their commitment to climate change and reducing carbon footprints. Here are few areas these industry leaders expect growth for the rest of the year and into 2022:

  • Ways to support transition risks, which consist of new vulnerabilities that companies face as they change their business models 
  • Development of carbon footprint technology 
  • More robust strategies addressing mitigations and regulations 
  • Innovation in the distribution space through test-and-learns of greener products

Skit: He Said, She Said 

Participants: Mark Roth from InsurTech Hartford, Wade Millward from Rikor, Nick Lamparelli from reThought Insurance, Ingrid Cook from SHzoom, Brian Gaab from AAA, Bob Hilborn from Launc[H], and George Woods from Guy Carpenter

In this session, participants presented a scenario where a start-up and insurer meet, develop a demo and game plan, and discuss typical challenges and concerns that come up when creating a partnership. The key takeaway from this reenactment is that there has to be a willingness to bend on both sides to address the real challenge, which is keeping up with customer needs no matter how fast they’re changing. 

Startup Pitch Sessions

The seven presenters during this pitch session were Hillside Ventures, Rikor, PinPoint Predictive, SHZoom, SpyGlaz, Intellagents and InsureLife. 

Diversity and Inclusion — It’s More than Statistics 

Speaker: Susan Johnson from The Hartford, Margaret Spence from the Inclusion Learning Lab

In this discussion, panelists talked about how to encourage and promote diversity across the insurance industry: 

  • Take the conversation a step further from “we’re going to hire diverse people” and come to the table with a diverse group from the start
  • Develop robust ways to bring talented and diverse individuals and create programs that highlight them within the organization 
  • Use your existing privilege to make space for people at the table that wasn’t necessarily there before 
  • Make sure your organization represents the diverse market that you’re appealing to and want
  • Find where you can accelerate diverse companies and startups further than just helping build the foundation

It’s 2021 — Time to Deliver a Holistic Customer Experience

Panel: Gilad Shai from InsurTechLA, Manisha Bhargava from Innoveo, Ewelina Mroczek from Lincoln Financial Group, Ryan Keating from Keating Agency

Customer experience has been a main focus and driver for the insurance industry for a while now, but as the pandemic brought unprecedented challenges carriers are reevaluating their approach to meeting customer demands to improve retention and provide support. Panel participants listed a handful of ways to address the customer in 2021: 

  • Ditch words timely words like “renewal” because it’s not just over a certain period of time anymore, carriers should support them through several touchpoints throughout a customer’s life
  • Guide customers with information and insurance support that they might not have known they needed
  • Understand the journey and why they are coming to a carrier in the first place, get the bigger picture of the individual 
  • Enable MGAs and brokers with a diverse set of tools and knowledge so they know how to carry the company as well as build a relationship with the policyholder

Using AI to Improve Underwriting 

Panel: Jeff Goldberg from Novarica, Scott Hammesfahr from Guidewire, Anthony DeSalva from Georgetown Financial Group, Sandipan Gangopadhyay from GalaxE, Carey Ann Nadeau from Loop Insurance

Panelists addressed how AI will shape the insurance and reinsurance industry in the next five years, such as developing abilities to predict human behavior and finding a true hybrid of automation and human parts of underwriting. They also addressed steps professionals, large organizations and small companies can take to equip themselves with AI:

  • Don’t outsource: create an in-house learning hub between IT, litigation institutes and clients 
  • Have a tight feedback loop to quickly and accurately define what is and isn’t working 
  • Develop a top-down strategy to address legacy tech challenges 
  • Keep in mind what problem you’re trying to solve

The Regulatory Perspective on InsurTech 

Panel: Denise Matthews from NAIC, Ben Sykes from Locke Lord, Josh Hershmann from CT Insurance Department, Henry French from Bifrost LLC, Brendan McKiernan from AXA XL 

In this session, a panel of regulation experts talked about the most effective ways to address and learn about data privacy and regulations as an insurtech company: 

  • Have someone who can guide you from beginning to end, which might mean talking to a regulator directly
  • Consider what region you’re in and where you are forming as an organization 
  • Define who has responsibility for what at the start so you can develop a game plan 
  • Understand the common themes around regulation: transparency, data minimization, purpose limitation, and standard contractual clauses
  • Take it one step at a time and be practical, this conversation is more of a journey than a destination

Awards and Recognitions

Carrier/Broker prize winner: Tide Foundations

VC Investor prize winner: Loadsure

Angel Investor prize winner: Delos Insurance

Bermuda BDA winner: RemitRix

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The Zebra is the nation's leading independent insurance comparison site. The Zebra compares more than 100 insurance companies and provides agent support and educational resources to ensure drivers are equipped to make the most informed decisions about their home and auto insurance.