Awards to Global Innovative Insurers
The insurance industry is riding the wave of innovation to survive and thrive in the new digital era. In order to appraise and recognize innovation in the industry, a joint initiative by Efma and Accenture evaluates innovation in insurance globally by different categories. The Award Committee that comprises industry experts shortlists nominated innovative insurers and judges their originality, impact and universality. Winners receive the Innovation in Insurance Awards, Gold, Silver and Bronze, for each category.
The visual content above presents the winners in the category of Global Innovators who took the lead in the insurance industry. The Committee shortlisted 12 insurers for this award; Assicurazioni Generali walked away with the crown with Discovery winning Silver and China Life Bronze.
Gold to Innovations of Over 190-Year-Old Assicurazioni Generali
The long-established Italian insurance company Generali reigned over the industry in 2021. Since its profit largely dropped in 2012, the company has announced three-year turnaround plans to transform the Group. The first three years were spent to improve overall profitability by reinforcing its insurance business. Then the company started focusing more on digitization to transform the business model in the following years. In 2018, Generali announced its €1 billion investment strategy for digital transformation.
Innovation is in Generali’s DNA: our heritage, present and future.
As this statement describes, it has been continuously innovating. With its key strategy “Innovation and Digital Transformation,” the company launched many innovative projects both externally and internally.
Recent examples of its external innovation projects focused on enhancement of customers’ experiences. These include:
- AI-based Baby Needs Recognition — a device that translates a baby’s cry using artificial intelligence (AI),
- Highway Parametric Microinsurance — a system that offers automatic toll refund in case of delays,
- Smart Savings — a rounding method to make automatic contributions to pension.
Similarly, it innovated its internal processes:
- Smart Gallery Pro — an AI-based solution that leverages images to facilitate motor claims,
- City Forward — a predictive machine learning model driving real estate investments,
- AI meets sustainability — an AI tool to reduce carbon footprint while realizing sustainability of buildings.
2021 is the year of announcement of its next three-year strategic plan. The company has already expressed that the new three-year plan will be “very ambitious,” which is expected to be announced on 15th December 2021.
Silver to Discovery that Makes People Healthier
The South African-founded insurer Discovery took home Silver in 2021. Being fairly young, its innovation evolves around a clear vision—to make people healthier and to enhance and protect their lives. Under its pioneering health insurance model, Vitality, the insurer incentivizes and rewards healthier lifestyle behaviors, reflecting the behavior change in pricing. This shared-value health insurance model is transforming the global insurance market; the Vitality network of insurers now represents more than 30% of the global personal insurance market, making 40 million people healthier across 27 countries.
Adrian Gore, the founder of Discovery, started his career as an actuary in South Africa, when he observed South Africa moving from apartheid state to a democracy. While the country was transforming, it was facing serious challenges, especially in healthcare. The challenging environment, however, was an opportunity for ambitious Adrian. He looks back in one of his interviews:
When we formed Discovery, we asked the question, “How do you innovate and build a health-insurance system that can work in this kind of environment?” Our gut instinct was that if you can make people healthier, you can offer more sustainable insurance.
His gut instinct was right. The new health insurance model is now academically validated. Data demonstrate:
- 10% reduction in hospital admissions,
- 10% – 30% reduction in hospital costs,
- 15% – 20% increase in life expectancy.
The Vitality model is beneficial not only to customers but also to insures. Promoting healthier lifestyle, i.e., reduction in unhealthy food choices and increased exercise, has quantifiable positive effects on claims, thereby increases sales and substantive engagement with customers.
Bronze to China Life that Alleviated Poverty Using Technology
China has lifted 800 million people out of poverty since its economic reform started in 1987. As the largest Chinese life insurer, China Life has been contributing to the country’s poverty alleviation through its microinsurance program. Microinsurance is the insurance for lower income people with premiums related to the level of risk. For example, it offers life and accident insurance with micro-loans as part of the Government pilot program in the effort to eliminate poverty.
Not only social benefits but also customer benefits drive their innovation. In order to deal with the massive amount of claims in China’s huge market, it aggressively adopts innovative technologies such as AI, Cloud Computing, Blockchain, and so on to automate processes and optimize customer experiences.
It serves 2.5 million impoverished customers by taking innovative initiatives. At the same time, the company is fully aware of the importance of creating sustainable environment. It invested US$4 billion in energy conservation as well as in green energy.
Insurance has the function of risk management and disaster prevention and loss prevention. It can play an important role in medical care, old-age care, environmental governance, social management, people’s livelihood, and natural disaster prevention,
said Wang Bin, the chairman of China Life.
Innovative Insurers Are Boosting Customer Satisfaction to Realize Sustainability
Each of the winners has distinctive innovation strategies as a pillar. However, it is noticeable that all of the innovative insurers emphasized achieving higher customer satisfaction and sustainable business through innovation. Generali developed AI-based tools to offer more personalized and seamless services. Discovery enhanced customers’ health by introducing a pioneering health insurance model. Similarly, China Life improved a social issue, using cutting-edge technology-led systems. Overall, the insurance industry is heading for a more sustainable future with the help of technology, led by these innovative insurers.
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