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Call it the power of the pandemic. For several years, insurance companies have slow-walked efforts toward digital transformation. Free from pressures from consumers and competitors to pursue a digital strategy more diligently, it would seem that consumers had resigned to the idea that the way insurance industry conducted business was unpleasant by design.

While other consumer-based industries have embraced the digital reality (most) of us live in, the largest, most resourceful insurance companies were still mailing out paper documents and ID cards, and asking for face-to-face meetings in a local agent’s office.

Then, 2020. It would turn out, there’s nothing like a global pandemic and widespread population lockdowns to light a fire under the seat of organizations that had no particular urgency for a full-scale digital transformation. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, as they say.

Very quickly, digital transformation projects across the industry, at various stages of progress, were dusted off and given top priority status. With more than 1/3 of the world’s population subject to lockdowns at or about the same time, many organizations were left with no infrastructure or resources to support a workforce that went remote overnight or engage a comparatively digitally savvy customer base. A bad first interaction could turn away a customer for good, and, because the field is more crowded than ever before, they have a plethora of competitors from which to choose.

It was survival mode for many. Plans for digital transformation were put on the fast track, as leaders worked diligently to improve agility, digitize delivery of solutions and services, and enhance both customer and employee experiences.

A brilliant silver lining is that there are now more solutions, tools, technologies, resources, and experts available than ever before to help organizations get it right the first time. The technology landscape has advanced far beyond what it was just half a decade ago, with an abundance of innovations to accelerate digital strategies.

Insurance companies that have pivoted to digital acceleration during the pandemic should continue on, but reassess what digital acceleration looks like in a post-pandemic world, then set and prioritize objectives. But don’t take too long! Keeping pace with technology will be essential to sustaining a successful, ongoing digital strategy.

Here are five key areas to consider first:

Remote workforce experience
First things first—your employees. Without well-trained, productive, and satisfied employees, the rest of the list would be rendered moot. It is essential to plan a proper transition for employees, and work to continually enhance the employee experience. Surveys across industries continue to indicate that employees largely plan on permanently working from home, either full time or a hybrid schedule. Ensure employees have all the resources to sustain productivity from remote locations.

Automation of core processes
Manual processes and workflows were outdated even before the pandemic, but in the post-pandemic world, the need for paper-based workflows that require employees’ physical presence has all but diminished. With the increasing prevalence of technologies and solutions like self-service portals, automated workflows, digital forms, and e-signature, employees and customers alike should be able to expect to conduct any and all business with you remotely.

Low-code and no-code development
Low-code configuration tools allow business stakeholders – not just IT professionals – to update and manage apps and software using intuitive, user-friendly, drag-and-drop functionality without sacrificing security or compliance requirements. They’ve grown in popularity because they solve critical IT issues — namely, amplifying overstretched internal resources, reducing backlogs, and improving productivity.

What makes no-code tools especially attractive is the faster time to market for new digital applications and solutions compared with traditional development projects. For insurance companies that are clamoring to move digitization forward as quickly as possible, these tools can make a significant impact.

Machine learning and analytics
Analytics play a key role in many aspects of the insurance process, including risks assessment, fraud identification, and underwriting, providing insights to augment these processes to yield better outcomes. Analytics might also be applied to overhaul processes like policy administration or enhance risk assessments. For example:

  • Machine learning and natural language processing can enhance underwriting by combining insights from a variety of data, which allows for a more precise, data-driven approach to calculating premiums.
  • The healthcare and car insurance segments stand to benefit significantly from machine learning analytics, as advanced algorithms can explore a customer’s lifestyle, risk factors, medical records, financial stability, and previous insurance claims to create a dynamic and accurate profile.
  • Any data gathered can be scrutinized to identify suspicious anomalies, reducing the risk of fraud and delivering accurate and safe premiums for customers.

Customer experience
For decades, insurance was viewed as a commodity that consumers were compelled to purchase based on whatever was available. AS technology has advanced and enabled an increasingly connected world, consumers have gained more leverage in their engagements with businesses. Yet, insurance was behind these trends, in no rush to digitize what was working, largely, fine.

Now, over the past decade, the market has become saturated with competitors new and old offering traditional insurance products as well as new or unique options. Personalization capabilities give insurance companies an opportunity to differentiate and gain competitive edge. Insurers should place a stronger focus on delivering personalized digital, or self-service products to customers this year.

With so many businesses in every industry competing for our attention at seemingly all times, smaller but more personalized efforts make more impact with consumers. To build a loyal customer base, insurers must make delivering a superior customer experience their top priority

Cutting-edge technology and an abundance of innovative tools and solutions have paved the way for the insurance industry’s quick transformation. Insurers should capitalize on the innovations and operational flexibility adopted during the pandemic to accelerate their transformation to a more agile, customer-centric business while aspiring to a “higher bottom line” that addresses emerging environmental, social, and governance (ESG) expectations among stakeholders.

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