Before we get into the meat of this post, which is devoted to the digital contract in the insurance industry, it is good to start by outlining a preliminary framework. When we talk about the Insurance industry we’re talking about a global market worth, as a whole, $5.376 billion in 2021. This is estimated to reach $5.938 billion by the end of 2022 (aggregate growth of 10.4%). It’s a market that is expected to reach, again according to the most reliable estimates, $8.398 billion in 2026 (with an aggregate annual growth of 9.1%). (source: prnewswire.com).
In short, we’re talking about one of the most important industries in the world economic system. It’s also an industry that is experiencing a great phase of growth and expansion, with very wide margins.
But that’s not all: for the insurance sector, these are also phases of great internal change. Change that is galloping on the back of Digital Transformation and unprecedented market opening and liberalization.
The Insurance industry reacted to the digital revolution with a longer timeframe, because of its own specificities and unique urgencies. But things are changing, and this change has accelerated faster than in other sectors, partly due to the impetus of the emergency period unleashed by the pandemic, which fortunately seems to be behind us.
The trends of the future are very clear, and we can collect them around one key word: insurtech.
We will start from here in the next section. From there, we will gradually tighten the circle around the topic of the digital contract between company and customer, first analyzing its enormous advantages and, consequently, the many opportunities all to be seized.
The insurtech revolution
Under the label of “insurtech” (thus, insurance + technology) lies everything related to technological and digital innovation applied to the insurance industry.
This is a vast, diverse, and ever-evolving field. An overwhelming wave that has triggered a paradigm shift in the traditional business models of insurance companies: ranging from smarthpone apps, IoT (Internet of Things), wearable devices, to blockchain.
Technological trends that, in some cases, are still far from being applied in large numbers and in all their implications but that in other cases are becoming absolutely common and in everyday use. The insurance sector, like the banking sector for example, was initially held back on its path to digitization by the slow and bureaucratic procedures that have always characterized it.
But things, now, have completely changed. The path charted by this turnaround has a very clear direction: it goes from the collection and exploitation of data—the most valuable asset for any company today—to the creation of a new relationship with customers.
The time of cold, one-way relationships is waning. Today, the insured demands a peer-to-peer, tailored, omnichannel, and personalized relationship. A dialog instead of a monologue. And the preliminary and essential foundation underpinning this path and dialog is, precisely, everything that revolves around the digital contract. It’s the first brick on which to build this paradigm shift for the industry.
Below, as promised, we want to share the benefits that flow from the digital contract (which, we anticipate, benefit both the company and policyholders, from a win-win perspective). Next, we will analyze the opportunities to be seized, bringing them together around two key points.
The benefits of the digital contract for the Insurance Industry
Let’s start with an initial and summarizing realization: the main advantages of the digital contract are directly related to those of document dematerialization. But let’s proceed with caution.
Digitization is a concept that goes beyond that of simple dematerialization.
Dematerialization processes make it possible to completely eliminate paper documents, creating digital counterparts instead. Digitization, in fact, makes it possible to go even further, since it involves not only the documents but also the processes that determine their generation. This makes it possible to rethink them from scratch and from a digital perspective, optimizing them and making them more efficient and secure, even to give computerized documents full legal and evidentiary value.
Now, without getting lost in further premise, let’s review the main benefits of dematerializing contracts and digitizing related processes:
- cost savings: producing and storing a huge amount of paper comes at a great cost, in terms of storage space and personnel employed. It’s a cost that is completely unproductive and ends up increasing over time. Going digital, as is intuitive, drastically cuts down on these outgoings;
- time savings: think of how complicated it can be to retrieve the data we need, perhaps very specific, within a single paper contract, stored in a folder among thousands of others! All of this has a very strong negative impact when it comes to handling paperwork that can also be very sensitive, or urgent, such as insurance. By switching to a digital system, on the other hand, everything is always retrievable conveniently, within a few clicks, and from any type of device. Entrusting documents to a digital preservation system, on the other hand, ensures that the integrity of documents, such as contracts, and their evidentiary value are maintained;
- lowering the risks of loss, of wear, and tear: with the digital contract, of course, these risks are reduced to zero. Compilation errors are also minimized and can be corrected very easily;
- increased security and privacy protection: let’s talk about these two sensitive and decisive issues when it comes to contracts. In this sense, it’s essential to rely on specialized companies that pay close attention to two critical aspects: that of cyber security side and to legislative and regulatory updates, which are very frequent and not always easy to understand;
- rapid and transparent sharing: in a fully digital ecosystem, the sharing of entire documents, or specific parts of them, takes place in a simple and immediate way, avoiding the delays and complexities of the old analog mode, with signatures, shipments, cross-checks, and so on.
Pulling the strings: we are talking about multiple and crucial benefits. Which reinforce each other. And which are reflected both on insurance companies and on individual policyholders. Yet, that’s still not all.
So far, we have only looked at benefits that we can consider as direct. But perhaps even more important, going forward, are the indirect benefits that come with the digital contract.
Indirect benefits are therefore opportunities all to be seized, and they concern loyalty: the real goal of an insurance industry company today. Such a goal is achieved through personalization. And it’s on this aspect that we close the post, with the next section.
The opportunities of the digital contract: from data to loyalty, through personalization.
First, it’s good to ask how important loyalty is, in today’s business world, and in the insurance industry, it’s all the more important. We could answer this in many ways, but we will do so by presenting you with two very straightforward and extremely telling data points from a well-known survey conducted by Bain & Company:
- for a company, winning a new customer costs 6 to 7 times more than retaining one;
- a 5% improvement in Customer Retention can produce up to 25% more profit.
No further comment is needed. However, beware. For the insurance industry, the issue of retention is even more crucial and pressing. One of the most serious problems to curb, in fact, is the rise in churn rate, i.e., the rate at which one’s customers drop out.
This data shows the urgency of this problem:
- the Insurance Industry is the third largest sector with the highest “planned churn” rate: while the rate was 19.5% in 2018, it is now 22.5%. (learning.callminer.com);
- in the UK alone, sudden terminations (“unplanned churn”) cost insurance companies as much as £312 million. (learning.callminer.com)
In short, everything revolves and will increasingly revolve around the issue of Customer Retention: it is the first concern and goal for companies in the industry.
The path to achieving this goal starts with data collection and goes all the way to creating a new relationship with individual customers. Let us explain further.
The most effective way to create a close relationship with your policyholders is to implement a tailored dialog based on individual risk profiles, certainly, but also on the characteristics, needs, and desires of individuals.
And how can this be done when you are facing audiences of thousands or even millions of customers? The answer lies in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data.
And here the importance of the digital contract comes back into the limelight: from this dematerialized document, in fact, a great deal of information about each individual customer can be automatically extracted and stored. This is a truly valuable asset, which goes into CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems.
From CRM, then, we move on to the revolution in CCM (Customer Communication Management) systems.
By knowing who is in front of you, thanks to data analysis, digital communication becomes personalized. The target audience coincides with each individual person. And from the one-to-many perspective, we move to one-to-one. Needless to say, how extremely effective this type of communication is.
The insured is no longer a number among numbers, but feels treated, finally, as an individual with his or her own unrepeatable characteristics. All with the efficiency of digital and in an automated manner.
How to embrace this shift? Relying on specialized companies, such as Doxee.
AXA, a global giant in the insurance industry, has already done so, with the specific goal of reducing the cancellation rate by customers at the sensitive time of policy renewal.