Tech is changing the face of insurance

PHOTO: AFP.

The global insurance market is facing as much change in thenext five years as it has over the past 50, as technological advances drive transformation in the sector and shape customer expectations, a new report from PwC suggests.

Eighty-six percent of 74 global insurance CEOs surveyed by PwC in the final quarter of 2013 pegged technological advances as the trend most likely to transform their businesses in the next 12 months.

“Regardless of product or service, people now want to be able to conduct business whenever and wherever they want and on the channel of their choice,” the report, which forms part of PwC’s 17th Annual Global CEO Survey, notes.

More than 60% of insurance CEOs surveyed by PwC see the speed of technological change as a threat to their organisations.

In addition to pursuing opportunities in developing markets, global insurance CEOs are looking for new avenues to expand market share in mature economies.

“We’re one of the oldest institutions in the UK and we’ve got to look at how we grow that, in terms of our product range and relationships with the customer,” commented Aviva Group CEO, Mark Wilson.

“We’re looking at how we use digital technologies and package those products together. We’re looking at some new and innovative things that we do with real estate and infrastructure.”

Globally, 47% of insurance CEOs view increasing share in existing markets as the most important opportunity for growth. This is followed by product and service innovation at 26%. In developed markets where insurance penetration is high, 72% are concerned about slow or negative growth.

The report highlights that insurance CEOs view the digital economy, social media, mobile devices, big data, and other technological developments as having an especially transformational impact on their businesses.

Out of 1 344 business leaders surveyed globally in the annual CEO survey, 105 were from South Africa and fewer than 10 from the financial services sector. Due to the methodology of the survey, PwC could not confirm whether the big four banks and insurers took part.

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