The Future of Insurance!

According to many different sources both inside and outside the industry, the future of insurance is bright! On April 18th, RSG participated in the first annual Future of Insurance Symposium, hosted by Axis Re, Insurance Insider, and the University of Illinois Office of Risk Management and Insurance Research, in Champaign, IL. Pat Ryan spoke as the executive keynote speaker on the “Future of Distribution” in the insurance industry. He emphasized the importance of the value added services provided by brokers and agents. Insureds “want and need advice and advocacy,” said Pat. “We believe the solution is simple and complicated at the same time. But [the solution] is technology, and it works with the broker and agent and not around them.”

Pat Ryan projected that new technology in the insurance industry could potentially halve small commercial costs, dropping these frictional costs from 30-40 cents on the dollar to 15-20 cents, allowing brokers and carriers to touch business that was previously too costly to handle, while at the same time simplifying the information required from the insured. He asserted that successful ventures will combine expertise from both the technology and insurance worlds. “If you’re just in the technology end of the industry, you’re not going to understand all the needs; but if you are just an insurance expert and you’re not embracing technology in the appropriate way, then of course you’ll miss that opportunity, and that opportunity is really going to drive a lot of our future,” Pat explained.

Every generation wants to feel that they have a sense of contribution to the organization.

Chris Taggart, Director, Human Resources, RSG, spoke on the “Future of: Talent Management” panel. He explained that cultural fit is often the most important factor for talent acquisition and retention, so he looks for recruits that are actively involved in activities that show discipline, collaboration, and teamwork. Chris said that RT Specialty has ramped up its recruiting efforts at colleges and universities in recent years.

Chris pointed out that insurance is not an industry that immediately seems glamorous to potential recruits and emphasized the importance of employees communicating the exciting opportunities present in the insurance industry, especially in the high risk arena. “Those partnerships between HR and the business [are] helping sell that [opportunity],” explained Chris. While the panel generally focused on attracting millennials, Chris emphasized the commonalities across generations. “Every generation, no matter what, wants to feel that they have a sense of contribution to the organization,” said Chris.

Pat Ryan’s talk was proceeded by a presentation by Sheryl Connelly, Ford Motor Company’s Futurist who is responsible for identifying global trends and applying related insights to organizations throughout the company. Her interactive presentation intertwined psychological concepts and looked at future societal trends and their impact on the economy, suggesting that the greatest opportunity for the insurance industry is in emerging markets. The kick-off panel examined the state of insurance industry and introduced the main themes of the symposium: how new technologies, distribution methods, and emerging risks will impact the industry.

The conference also included a panel of veteran economics and finance professors from the University of Illinois who discussed the impact of economic factors on the role and value of the insurance industry. A panel of risk management professionals looked at new and emerging risks, pointing out that the future will always bring with it more risks, which will be beneficial to the insurance industry.

The symposium included a panel of insurtech start-up professionals. When asked if they were disrupters or enablers to the insurance industry, they explained how insurtech can work in conjunction with the industry and that successful companies will adapt with the changing trends and technology. Pat Ryan recognizes the value of integrating new technology into the industry: “The solution is a single app that will underwrite multiple lines, that can get multiple carrier quotes, and that is user-friendly as to the number of questions that are required to be asked.”

The week prior to the conference, U of I students competed in an all-day “hackathon” as part of the Axis Re / Insurance Insider effort. Participants, many with a computer science or computer engineering focus, were tasked with building a data visualization tool for underwriters. The winning team created an augmented system viewable by a virtual reality (VR) headset, in which the user’s hand motions were used to navigate through multiple maps with overlaid exposure data, historical storm paths and other natural catastrophe models coded on site. The hackathon provided a great way for students to get excited about insurance.

Overall, the symposium had a diverse mix of speakers and topics that positively addressed the changing nature of the insurance industry. Thanks to Axis Re, Insurance Insider, and the University of Illinois for organizing the successful event.

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