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Take a Selfie, Get Life Insurance

Posted on May 03, 2016 by Guy Weismantel

Digital Insurer blog header

Let's see if I can annoy you. 

Ok, this shouldn't be too hard. Think of someone standing in your way trying to use a selfie stick.

Mission accomplished, right?

Those in the insurance industry might have a whole new set of reasons to be annoyed by the selfie in the coming years. Startups like Cover and Trov, are betting that some customers will jump at the ability to use a picture captured by mobile device to sign up for issue insurance.

Cover, a free app for Android and iOS devices, allows you to take a picture of personal property. It is used for insuring your car, phone, pet, boat, home, jewelry, and pretty much anything that is considered personal property. Cover is relatively new to the scene and is still mechanical turking the processes of issuing insurance via brokers in the Cover network, but is pushing to have insurance issuance all done in house, by relatively automated processes in the next few months.

Trov, another new entrant in the mobile app insurance space, is similar to Cover but is taking the self-service and on-demand nature of it's app to the next level. Not only can you take a picture of an item to get it insured, but you can also file and process claims via text message and turn on-demand protection for your personal property on and off with a few button taps inside the mobile app.

Selfie insurance

Are Healthcare and Health Insurance Tech Laggards?

As Cover and Trov are trying to prove, almost all items of personal property can potentially be insured by, "selfie insurance." 

"Today’s brokers are not suited for mobile-sourced customers who expect instantaneous results from interaction: namely quotes and the ability to convert" - Cover CEO Karn Saroya

The health, life, and commercial segments of the insurance industry will, understandably, take time to catch up and get into the self-service and on-demand world of mobile insurance, if at all. 

As slow as it seems the insurance industry can be to leverage new technology, the healthcare industry may be even greater laggards. According to a Harvard study, only 7.6% of hospitals have adopted an electronic health records system. However, health insurance and healthcare may work together in fast tracking self-service and on-demand health insurance due to advances and widespread consumer adoption of wearable devices. Not only is there motivation to improve processes and become more efficient in issuing insurance and caring for patients, but wearables such as the fitbit activity tracker provide a monetary incentive to insurers and healthcare providers by helping them better diagnose, understand risk, and process their customers. 

To look at this from an even more disruptive angle, it's in the best interest of the insurance industry to push the healthcare industry forward with the adoption of technology in a way that keeps them intertwined. Why? Direct primary care models are starting to surface that make a case for cutting insurance providers out of the process altogether. 

Self-Service and On-Demand Insurance

The self-service and on-demand elements of technology can appear disruptive to industry incumbents. However, these two features of modern technology can benefit insurers as well as the consumer. If a consumer can self-serve, they can save both parties valuable time and money throughout the entire process allowing the agent to spend less time on the front end of the process and spend more time focusing on the things that matter most to their customers. 

Getting auto insurance on-demand and self-service, without talking to anyone, is already possible from several online auto insurance providers. In the cases where these insurance providers were already large incumbents, they had to take extra care not to rock the boat. Take Esurance for example: Allstate, through its 2011 acquisition of Esurance, was able to get into the self-service and on-demand space without angering their on-the-ground brokers or agents. 

Is it far-fetched to believe that the more complex lines of business, such as commercial, health or life insurance could move to self-service and on-demand and remove brokers or agents from the equation? Embroker thinks it's feasible and is taking great strides to simplify commercial insurance processes so that brokers and their fees can be minimized. 

Who Wins: Silicon Valley Startups or Insurance Incumbents?

Whether it is Cover, Trov, Embroker or any of the dozens of other startups competing for a share of the trillions of dollars up for grabs, incumbents in the insurance industry are facing potential disruption. Who will win in the end though? Well, that depends on how the insurance industry reacts.

At this point, it should be pretty clear that disruption is underway. It is now up to you, the insurance professional, to adapt to today's customer by equipping your business with the new technology it takes to connect with the 21st century customer. Expectations of your potential customers are changing, and you need to be ready to meet those expectations, or these small startups might be big problems for you in the not so distant future.

Alarmingly, 67% of customers say they would consider buying insurance from non-insurers, putting your business in the crosshairs if it doesn't meet their evolving needs. Check out our Ebook, "Digital Disruption and the Modern Insurer," for plans to connect with your customers and set yourself up for success in the new, digital world. Tech like client portal can connect you to your customers like never before by allowing them to do on-demand business with you when it's convenient for them.

The last thing anyone wants is to get blindsided by Silicon Valley. I publish a new article about the intersection of technology, insurance, and disruption each week in my Digital Insurer series that should, over time, keep you up to date. If once a week is too much for you, no worries. You can simply sign up for my newsletter below and I'll send you ONE email each month with all of the most popular posts. 

Thanks for stopping by, see you next week! 

Mr. Weismantel is the Vice President of Marketing at Vertafore. With 20 years of marketing and financial leadership in companies such as Microsoft, Business Objects, Baxter HealthCare, Caremark International, and Expedia, Guy’s career has focused on bringing differentiated products to market and providing the “compelling reason to purchase” for customers and prospects alike.

Guy has a Bachelors Degree in Accounting from the University of Notre Dame, and a Masters Degree in Business Administration from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.




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