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How to make bold moves on the new insurance playing field

Three strategies for differentiation and growth in a game where the rules are constantly changing.

The insurance playing field will look dramatically different in a digitally connected future. Sweeping changes across consumer behavior, technology innovations and big data are reshaping traditional insurance business models and what it takes to compete. Disruption is happening at unprecedented speed, and the winners of tomorrow are the ones that will adapt proactively as the playing field and rules of competition evolve.

There is no single move that will guarantee competitiveness or define the future for insurers. However, we at Accenture believe there are definitive actions that can better position insurers for the future. These can be divided into three basic strategies:

  1. Bolster your defense

    To protect their existing business, insurers need to move to integrated and flexible transactional systems, beginning their transition to the cloud. Digitizing their front- and back-office functions will improve the customer experience while creating operational efficiencies. They should consider expanding direct-to-consumer digital interactions and extending digital to other channels such as agents. And they should set a data structure and operating model that allow them to capture insights from rapidly expanding data sources.

  2. Get on the offense

    To drive their growth in a volatile marketplace, carriers need to look for ways to expand their insurance offerings to deliver the different outcomes that consumers are demanding. To do this they must explore the opportunities created by emerging risks (such as cyber threats), new technologies (such as the Internet of Things), and the willingness of customers to exchange personal information for benefits such as lower premiums or personalized services. They should consider using digital and connected insurance to expand their offering to include protection services that are embedded in their core products and are designed for instant or proactive risk protection, and value-adding lifestyle services that meet a broader set of customer needs.

  3. Expand the team

    Few carriers will be able, on their own, to deliver the integrated suite of services that consumers want to address their higher-order needs. Insurers need to investigate how becoming part of an ecosystem can help them expand their model to play a more central, differentiated role in their customers’ lives. They need to resolve difficult questions about their status in such an ecosystem, the capabilities required to make the most of their partnerships, and the types of products and services that will fit within a successful ecosystem offering.

    The most effective insurers will be those that pursue a combination of defensive and offensive plays that reflect a balance of near-term execution and longer-term strategic investment. These strategic choices will determine an insurer’s breadth of products and services, its positioning within an ecosystem and the capabilities that will differentiate it. They call for bold moves, but on tomorrow’s insurance playing field, nothing less is required for success.