Insurers need to focus on the "ultimate tailoring" of their offerings and take the plunge on "appification", if they are going to compete with online giants like Amazon.
That was the view of Aviva chief digital officer Andrew Brem speaking at the Post Digital Insurance Collective meeting in London last week.
He said: "As a retail guy I find it really painful sometimes this notion that I fill in a questionnaire, click and then get my quote, before I even make a decision about whether I will accept it or not. Contrast that to Amazon one click buying."
Noting that even the terminology insurers used was "ridiculous" and out of kilter with what customers expected, Brem said the industry needed to wise up to how much they actually know about policyholders and the data readily available.
"The revolution we are on with this journey is to say that we already know [about consumers], because they either have a product with us or exist in [the] social media [sphere]. And with that in mind we should make life interesting for them by figuring out who they are and putting the product on the shelf with their names on it," Brem continued.
"And for me that is our version of one click buying. And I think that would need a massive mind shift, that is a long way from where we are today."
Partner for Life
Brem stressed Aviva was aiming to become a partner for life for its policyholders through a combination of protection and prevention, highlighting how its Drive app covered both areas by helping motorists become safer drivers whilst also tailoring insurance to better meet their risk profiles.
"We need to do things that are useful for people - and that is what I found with Hive when I was at British Gas. Consumers told us: ‘My god, finally you have done something that is useful for us. You have spent so many years with tariffs that are totally inexplicable; bills that are estimated, like we were living in the dark ages, and finally you let me run my energy life as I do everything else, so that with one click my home is warm'.
"There are lots of opportunities, not just in motor, to share consumers things - that are not like big brother - but are intriguing, and relevant and at the end of the day stop bad things happening."
Asked by a Collective member about Aviva's experience with apps and whether insurers could genuinely expect policyholders to use ones devised by insurers, Brem offered an optimistic response.
"Some people argue that you only use four or five apps and one will never be insurance, but I actually don't buy that. I agree that there are four or five apps that I use the whole time, but I also have a collection that I know I have got that are very useful at a particular moment [and that is where I see insurance].
"So I have the British Airways app and I don't use it unless I am planning a trip or checking in, but wow is it useful when I need it. [Those type of apps] are important [too]."
Appification Cannot be Selective
Brem added that insurers needed to be sold on the "appification" of its all processes and not just selected ones, if they were to create something as relevant as the BA app he had just described.
"When I arrived [at Aviva] there was a mind-set that we only invest in the ‘change the address' part of the process, if you have a business case for it. We only did ‘add a second driver', if there was a case for that," he explained.
"That is a total nonsense way of going about it. Basically if you can't do everything, you should not bother. So our approach now is everything has got to be done digitally. I think you have to take the plunge on that."
Another Collective member questioned Brem on whether many insurance customers would ever be sold on digital, noting a lot of journeys begin online but end with human contact.
"I do genuinely believe that there is a huge aspect of it that is just habit - people just take it for granted that if it is insurance that they will ring up -so you need to retrain them," Brem commented.
"I used to be channel neutral on this - and I remain a multi-channel proponent - but that said, I think you need to give people a shove, and to do that you need to make the digital experience truly brilliant and you have to give them a shove or an incentive, because people are massive creatures of habit and pick up the phone.
"I want to make it better for them not to do that and push them in the [digital] direction. But I'm not anti-human contact, and I think that is powerful, as we are not all the same. But I believe most consumers in the near future are going to be channel hoping, and that is why I think certain products should be sold online and others face-to-face."
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