Navigating the Future: Lessons for an Adaptive Insurance Landscape
Collaboration is often thought of in the strictest of terms — almost always involving the culture of a business — and for good reason. At the 2023 Summer Insights Conference, keynote speaker Bryan Falchuk addressed the future of insurance and the many lessons about collaboration that leaders can learn from insurers who are pushing ahead despite industry roadblocks.
Falchuk, founder and managing partner of Insurance Evolution Partners, explained how a collaborative setting has a positive impact on everything from productivity and problem-solving to engagement and morale. However, he also noted that collaboration is further reaching than the interactions within your team, encompassing numerous aspects of the industry. When applied correctly, insurance collaboration can drive real value through the new ideas, new products, new services, and new ways of thinking that come from the act.
Falchuk concluded that successful insurance collaboration will shape the future of the insurance industry and help propel the market forward. He also explained that those in the industry — legacy brands and insurtech startups alike — are already moving in the right direction in their approach to insurance collaboration. There are numerous lessons to be learned from their efforts.
What Does Successful Insurance Collaboration Look Like?
During his forward-looking presentation, Falchuk explained that some organizations might feel as though they have a solid understanding of insurance collaboration but may be missing important aspects of collaboration that could truly offer their organization stability and effective future-proofing. As such, he pointed out that it's still important to ensure all the components are in place for your efforts to be truly successful:
Customers hold the answers. Some answers may be hard to hear, but they can help inform the direction of products, services, and overall experience with your organization.
Tied to your customers will be that of your employees. They, too, deserve a seat at the table. Your team is on the front lines, interfacing with customers each day and hearing firsthand their needs and frustrations. Including them in the conversation ensures nothing will be missed.
You’ll encounter a lot of shiny objects from day to day, so it’s important to stay focused. If a decision has been made about a solution to develop, don’t let yourself get distracted. See the idea through, always keeping in mind what you’re trying to deliver.
By diversity, we mean diversity in thought. It’s one of the best means for looking at the market and approaching problems from different perspectives. Bring different people together — from different industries even. Get out of your comfort zone to encourage the development of different solutions.
Chances are, you’ve got your strategy covered, but you may have overlooked the role that capital can play in it. Make capital a strategic part of operations — whether it’s venture, capacity, reinsurance, or regulatory capital models.
Why do you exist? Giving a quick quote or cost savings aren’t the best answers. Trends in the insurance industry can attest to that. Another company will eventually come to market and do it quicker or cheaper. Create a real advantage. Determine why consumers would pick your company over all the others.
Falchuk explained that each of these components will serve as a foundation for collaborative partnerships. Not to mention, these are areas that successful legacy companies and insurtech startups already have in place to encourage true insurance collaboration. There may be many moving pieces, but ultimately, they are the core of successful collaboration and a stable future.
What Qualities Make for Better Collaborative Partnerships?
Falchuk also explained that there’s more to collaboration than meets the eye, especially when the goal is to bring legacy companies and new entrants together to shape a better future for the insurance industry. He asked questions such as what makes for a good partnership? And what’s the secret to collaborating better?
For insurtech startups, particularly those working with insurance companies to bring a solution to market, a few factors are seen as a necessity for a better collaborative partnership. Executive sponsorship is always beneficial — and so is a clear definition of success. What does success look like? Budget, resources, due diligence, business and IT alignment, and good decision-making processes were also important. But one of the more interesting factors was issue resolution. While issues will inevitably come up, what happens after? Is the company set up to solve an issue quickly, easily, and to everyone’s benefit?
Unfortunately, many insurance companies are lacking or not meeting the expectations of their insurtech partners. Needless to say, this can put into question the success of not just the partnership but whatever project the two parties have come together to work on.
How to Better Ensure a Successful Collaboration
Though the components and factors may feel like a lot, Falchuk offers reassurance that the ways to correct any gaps your company may be experiencing aren’t that many. In fact, he pointed out that they are relatively straightforward. Below are the strategies he outlined that you can put in place today to encourage more successful insurance collaboration
1. Make fast, rational decisions.
How do you set yourself up to make fast, rational decisions? More importantly, how do you do this without being influenced by the politics, game playing, or insecurities that often come about when quick decisions must be made? When Mountain West Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company partnered with Guidewire, one of the first decisions made was that Mountain West would use Guidewire’s suite right off the shelf. The CIO didn’t want to presume that changes needed to be made without first integrating the technology into the workflow. Only after using the solution would the team know if a functionality didn’t work with the processes already in place. Oversight was still part of the implementation process, with weekly steering committee meetings, but the decision was made quickly and rationally to go off the shelf from the start.
2. Be on the same team.
Oftentimes, companies enter into a partnership categorizing a partner as the “other.” This is certainly true when working with a vendor, framing any discussion about the company as working for us — not with us. And if something doesn’t go well, the blame goes back to the vendor. Shift your mindset and look for ways to structure processes and interactions that bring you together as one team. Nationwide and Kinetic struck up a partnership that didn’t go as expected, but Kinetic was treated as a peer throughout the project. Its team was given the opportunity to explain what went wrong as opposed to Nationwide cutting ties right then and there. The mindset was always a partnership and a collaborative was created within Nationwide to support Kinetic’s efforts.
3. Respect the lanes of responsibility.
No matter the partnership, everyone has a role to play. The question then becomes, how does your company best support the other party or parties? How do you provide that support and be collaborative and inclusive at the same time? The answer often comes down to respecting the other party’s expertise and experience in their industry. Benekiva began working with Homesteaders Life Company, and the foundational structure of the insurtech company was brought into the relationship with the insurance company. Each of the founders made the ultimate decision in their respective lanes, and they wanted any company that worked with them to understand the good, the bad, and the ugly. Think of it as setting expectations for working together — if you were to choose to work together.
The future of the insurance industry relies on collaboration. The process helps in the development of new products and services. It encourages new ways of thinking and improves the customer experience for those whom the industry ultimately serves. Collaboration, when done correctly, drives real value for everyone involved in the industry.
If you’d like to learn more about how collaboration is at the core of the insurance industry or how you can prepare for an uncertain future, attend a PIMA conference and learn from industry thought leaders like Bryan Falchuk.
Published on Oct. 10, 2023.
PIMA® (Professional Insurance Marketing Association®) is a member-driven trade association focused exclusively on the affinity market.