Corporate Insight recently attended the fifth annual InsurTechNY Conference in Manhattan, an event packed with brilliant attendees striving to solve some of the most difficult insurance conundrums with cutting edge technology. The first quarter of 2024 is already in the books and insurers are still facing down many of the same challenges—inflation, rising car thefts, more powerful severe convective storms—that resulted in a tough 2023. It was therefore uplifting to attend an event focused on solutions and learn about actionable steps that have already been taken in the personal lines, life insurance and group benefits industries.

CI’s research confirms that the digital pace of change continues to accelerate as insurers strive to meet rising consumer expectations, a sentiment echoed by numerous speakers. Further, InsurTech 2024 conference attendees shared a firm belief that the new technologies showcased in the exhibit hall would help insurers deliver a better product and customer experience to policyholders. However, many speakers also cautioned that rushing to market with new pilots could have negative ramifications, with exhibit A (and frequent punching bag) being Air Canada’s recent chatbot faux pas.

Our key takeaways from the two-day event include:

AI is going to stick in the insurance industry

Claude Yoder of Locketon Re, Todd Rissel of e2value, Xu Cheng of Ascot Group and Chris Sekerak of CB Insights joined forces on an illuminating panel. Each held a similar belief that the question of AI’s “stickiness” in insurance was already resolved. They cited multiple stats, including in 2023, 80% of funding to P&C claims insurtechs went to organizations relying on AI and that 20 of the top 50 insurance companies worldwide have publicly disclosed pilot programs with genAI. The panel advised carriers looking to increase their reliance on AI to build a good data foundation (with clean data) and then begin to use generative AI to interrogate their own data. They did caution the audience to make sure their company has an AI policy in place and that the IT/risk/legal teams need to develop a safe internal environment for AI experimentation.

Being a responsible ESG player provides numerous benefits for insurers beyond just meeting a sustainability commitment

Sokhiba Mukhitdinova of the 2024 Insurtech NY conference moderated an engaging ESG discussion among Sam Hodas of TIAA, Meg Duty of Puritan Life and Bobbie Shrivastav of Benekiva. Corporate Insight’s research reveals that ESG is a significant factor during the life insurance purchase journey. In a recent survey, we asked respondents who reported an interest in purchasing life insurance in the next 12 months about the impact of an insurer’s sustainability commitments on their purchase decision. Close to half (45%) indicated it has an “extremely significant” or “very significant” impact.

During the panel, the speakers stressed that while it is great to have goals and metrics (e.g., we plan to be net-zero by 20XX), few carriers actively show or demonstrate where they are in the current state. They emphasized that it is critical for carriers to:

  • Highlight their progress on their ESG journey
  • Spell out what actions they are taking to reach their stated goal and better promote those that have already happened
  • DO NOT undertake an initiative “just to report it,” instead embark on a journey because it truly matters to the companies brand

The panelists also pushed back aggressively on the notion that ESG has become politicized, they were united in their belief that ESG is about demonstrating your ability as a company to be a well-run business as well as having the added benefit of ancillary risk management.

Group Benefits is at an inflection point

Several sessions at the 2024 InsurTech conference addressed the group benefits space, which multiple speakers pinpointed as one that is ripe for innovation, particularly because the back end process continues to be very manual and convoluted.

  • Ramsey Smith of ALEXIncome noted that there is a 28% gap between what employers think they are doing to take care of their employees and what employees actually feel like they are getting.
  • When asked if she could waive a magic wand and solve a challenge in winning group business, Nikki Cleves of The Hartford said that she would ask brokers to provide more information up-front at pre-sale, specifically less details about coverage information and more technological answers.
  • Allyson Laurance of Prudential cited a past survey from Glassdoor in which 80% of employees would prefer a better benefits stack over a pay raise.
  • Several panelists spoke wistfully of combining Physical and Financial Wellness journeys (currently described as separately addressed challenges) into one conversation via an innovative turnkey solution.

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