Technology can strengthen relationships with consumers in financial services

That’s the advice from Lloyd’s of London’s former CEO.

The insurance industry has watched on as financial services firms have implemented technology into their processes to evolve. “InsureTech is behind FinTech”, says Dame Inga Beale

In an interview on the usage of technology in the underwriting process, the former CEO of Lloyd’s of London spoke about growth in the insurance space. As an abundance of choice encircles the marketplace today, customers are arguably in the driving seat. Inga discussed how traditional insurance companies have changed their ways to accommodate that shift. 

“Technology has put data at the fingertips of customers like never before. Insurance has had to react by making available all their products for online quotes. That means the consumer can make instant decisions.”

Inga cited the introduction of innovation labs and the paper to digital transformation that she oversaw during her five years at the helm of Lloyd’s of London as key to the progress of the traditional insurers. 

“Instead of the customer having to fill out complicated claim forms and proposal forms, a lot of the data can be collected using meters and trackers; the Internet of Things can provide all sorts of data automatically.”

“One example is that you can now get sensors to put on your water pipes at home. So instead of coming home one day and seeing that your home has flooded, the sensor will turn off the water and potentially save you some damage and a lot of hassle. So there’s a lot of new technology and a lot of it is being used for mitigating at the front end.” 

In addition to providing safer, more focused solutions for the benefit of customers, technology is allowing insurers to proactively manage risk and provide more accurate coverage, as well as pricing.

“I look at it a bit like healthcare; we used to go and seek treatment when we were ill. Now we want to know how to prevent getting ill in the first place. So it’s not illness now that people are looking at, it’s wellness.”

Inga also highlighted the potential shortfalls of the insurance industry, stating that the complexities behind the underwriting process are a thorn in the sides of consumers. Simplifying policies, she believes can rejuvenate the relationship insurers have with customers. 

“We need to simplify. I don’t think it’s about providing customers with more information on the policies, I think the fundamentals of what insurance is, has to be simplified to respond to life needs and life incidents.” 

“We have to eliminate as many of the exclusions and complicated terms we have around the contracts; do what Apple has done in providing all your tech needs. I don’t have to think about any of the technicalities that sit behind how my devices all talk to each other. It just happens for me. We’ve got to focus on that consumer interface and experience.”

“I think it’s all about the service you get. One bad response, one negative phone call; that’s today’s world – there is a choice, and if you get annoyed by one thing, you can easily go somewhere else.”

Despite her broad acceptance of technology, Inga admits the importance of due diligence to ensure the industry is regulating against bias, as coverage becomes more focused on an individual.

“With all of this AI, we’ve got to make sure that we’re not using it in a way that is getting bias built-in. We must make sure we’re not discriminating against somebody or not being fair to a certain group of people.”

“There are reports that women drivers with a man in the back of a car – say the technology within the car responds to his voice and not her voice – even though she’s driving. So there’s subtle programming that we need to be very aware of – that it’s not being biased in any way.” 

Dame Inga Beale can be booked as a technology speaker with the Champions Speakers agency.