There will be no return to the analogue form in the post-Corona era. So who is a winner of the pandemic and why? 

If the pandemic has shown one thing, it is that digital working makes us capable of action. This insight has made the big players in the insurance industry think again. Digital solutions are not a selectively useful addition, and after one year of Corona they are no longer a temporary solution, but the future. The world of work is changing and changes are imminent. There will be no return to the analogue form in the post-Corona era. Because employees and customers do not want to give up advantages they once experienced. Moreover, the digital revolution is a must for an industrial nation like Germany. So who is a winner of the pandemic and why?

The world of work is changing and changes are coming. There will be no return to the analogue form in the post-Corona era.

It's not that the German economy has been completely closed off to innovations, but until some time ago, appointments for start-ups from the fintech and insurtech scene were hard to get with board members of large companies. The developments and products were noted with interest, but not given high priority. There was simply no need for rapid change. This response caused the scene to diverge in two directions: On the one hand, the software-as-a-service (SaaS) start-ups that want to be supporters in the transformation and, on the other hand, insurtechs that want to be "full-fledged" competitors or at least niche providers as digital insurance providers. After the digital insurance industry had a hard time getting off the ground in the past, the digital business models have found more ears due to the pandemic and are now getting appointments with decision-makers more quickly.

The employee factor is an essential element in change. New processes, a new orientation or even a new tool will only be accepted if the staff is convinced. For a long time, digital transformation was a red rag among employees and works councils because it was seen as a virtual red pencil. Artificial intelligence, simplification, increased efficiency are words that were misinterpreted and rather assigned to the area of rationalisation. Where normally a lot of convincing would have been necessary, the lockdown helped the insurtechs into the saddle. Everyone could feel the advantages of the digital way of working first-hand and within their own four walls. The aversions to software and tools have largely dissipated. Instead, facilitations and efficiency gains have become noticeable for the insurance company and the users. The change from within is in full swing, as insurtechs have made insurance groups capable of acting in the Corona pandemic with their solutions.

In a recent survey, citizens were asked what they would and would not do after the pandemic. 62 percent answered that they would rather greet each other in a friendly manner instead of shaking hands. 35 percent want to continue wearing mouth-nose protection in shops and public transport. These are statements that show that society is changing and ready for change. This courage for changed handling is based on (positive) experiences and cuts across all age groups. Thus, digital offers and the management of sensitive financial and insurance topics are no longer taboo topics. Instead, the focus is on the service and the offer. Customers have become more digitally savvy and will set the pace in the future, and their demands on service providers will increase. This is not only about digital contact points, but primarily about service. Customer satisfaction is a crucial asset and should be the top priority for insurers.

Insurtechs have all the relevant factors for the future on their side and can provide answers. In the first phase of the pandemic, it was primarily a matter of building up and quickly maintaining the ability to work. SaaS technologies have made this possible without any problems. Rapid integration into the existing system landscape ensures high flexibility and speed, which in many cases can no longer be provided by classic insurers. The focus is on process optimisation and helps to clean up and make hidden potential visible. However, the full performance of digital tools will only unfold with the utilisation of the data. In this respect, today's applications usually only scratch the surface. Transformation is an ongoing development, and it only gains its full potential through the use of data. This requires cooperation between insurers, who generate data, and insurtechs, who make it visible, analyse it and harness its real value.

Transformation is an ongoing development, and it only gains its full potential through the use of data.

The advantages of an efficient way of working and how this can positively influence customer satisfaction can be seen in claims handling in the property and liability sector. Here, a distinction is made between adjuster and desktop claims. From a claim amount of approximately 2,000 euros, a payer is necessary to settle the case. Insurance companies pass these claims on to their own adjusters and external adjuster organisations, whose deployment must be coordinated. This means that at least three parties are involved in the claims management of a tap water damage, for example. About 20 percent of all claims are made to adjusters, but at the same time they represent about 70 to 80 percent of the cumulative claims payments. Only after the assessment and on the basis of a report can the next steps to remedy the damage be initiated by the insurance companies. The adjusters are the link between the customer and the insurance company for these claims.

There is enormous potential in precisely this field. With AI support, routes can be planned more efficiently and appointments can be made more quickly. The recording in a uniform software allows a direct creation of the damage report during the recording and thus saves rework. In addition, the calculated prices and expenses for repairing the damage can be better compared and are based on valid experience data. Suitable interfaces and functional transitions between the systems of the adjusters and the insurers round off the solution. The long-term potential for optimisation, however, lies in the use of claims and settlement data. Those who tap into this treasure can achieve further considerable gains in quality and efficiency.

The question about the winners of digitalisation can be answered relatively quickly after looking at the developments in all areas. Insurtechs got a huge boost in 2020 and were able to shine in an emergency. The fact that the technology was ready to use and immediately available helped the entire industry. Many SaaS companies that rely on collaborations have proven that they deliver very high quality and professionalism. Nevertheless, digitalisation will not be fully implemented in the short term. A gradual and continuous transformation of the sectors will continue to shape the future of the industry.

The question remains how the fully digital insurtechs will perform, some of which have now reached a significant size. Large investors are making massive bets on possible IPOs of individual companies, which are becoming serious competition for traditional established insurers.

But where there are winners, there must also be losers. According to the superficial view, these would be the established insurance companies. But many insurers have drawn the right conclusions from the pandemic and reacted. The supposed mistakes of the past have been corrected and competent and professional support has been sought. Insurtechs are being heard and cooperating for a better future of the industry. Modern technology, coupled with the industry's long experience, is an ideal mix. What one lacks, the other compensates for, and so the insurtechs that act as supporters definitely emerge as winners. However, this is not thanks to their purely digital approach, which has merely been the stumbling block. Expertise, understanding of the industry and persistence are also factors of success. 

originally published in Cash