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Navigating the Integration of Technology Solutions in Insurance Companies

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For legacy insurers, staying relevant requires a willingness to embrace innovation and leverage the expertise of niche technology solutions to help improve efficiency, lower costs, and bring new, valuable services to the market. Insurance companies often partner with specialized technology firms to add complementary services to their offerings. However, integrating can be challenging for steady, deliberate, often-siloed insurers and the zealous tech firms who sometimes do not understand insurers’ unique attributes and complexities. There are ways to integrate success, as long as both the insurer and the tech provider come to the table with reasonable expectations and goals for a new initiative.

Even in today’s digital environment, insurance companies often struggle with integrating valuable technology products and services. Here are a few practical tips borne from my experience as life insurance CMO – these are my most significant observations from the 10-year journey of integrating technology from the front end of the sales process to the claims experience and beyond.

Advice for Insurers

Establish Clear Objectives 

Before embarking on a new initiative with a technology partner, define actionable, obtainable objectives and goals for the project with decision-makers and stakeholders in the room. In smaller organizations, this begins with CEO buy-in and a directive to “make it happen.” In these meetings, the team should determine how the partnership aligns with the overall business strategy and what specific outcomes the organization hopes to achieve. Benefits should be clearly articulated so decision-makers fully understand why the initiative is being considered in the first place. Stakeholders in many companies may not see the forest for the trees, perhaps suffering from a myopic view of their role in the organization. Without unanimous, enthusiastic buy-in, an insurer may want to table in initiatives, taking the time to reconsider options until there is consensus across the organization.

Foster a Culture of Innovation

Encouraging a culture of innovation begins with the CEO and executives responsible for each vertical functional area within the organization. This starts with a mindset that values experimentation and collaboration. Employees, especially those who are digital natives, should be part of the implementation team. Their input should be highly valued and encouraged throughout any tech project.

Invest in Technology Infrastructure

Ensure that your technology infrastructure can support the integration of new solutions. Agile development practices allow for an organized effort to integrate technology wherever there is a fit and need. Work with your solutions provider to build the most simple integration possible.

Collaborate and Communicate with Technology Partners

This seems obvious, but technology partners, often managed by CEOs under the age of 40, expect open and honest dialogue from their insurer-partners. The complex structure and “protect your turf” environment that still exists in many insurance companies does not encourage free-flowing communication. All proverbial cards should be on the table when integrating technology to keep all parties on the same page and move initiatives forward, or, conversely, end the collaboration quickly if there is no fit.

Creating a collaborative relationship with your technology partners, based on open dialogue and mutual respect is key. Involve them early in the planning process and work closely to define project milestones and timelines. Meet regularly so there are no “ghosting” periods.

Advice for Technology Solutions

Know Your Customer (KYC) is a concept especially apropos for technology companies when targeting insurers as clients. Insurance companies can be complex and territorial. The entrepreneurs who run tech companies can sometimes take a “bull in a china shop” approach to implementation. These are generalizations, of course, but they apply more often than you might believe. To accommodate these seemingly oppositional dynamics, insurtechs should accept small victories when they present themselves. Seeking to drive the proof of concept with enthusiastic insurance company managers –with small successes in hand – can expand into greater opportunities for partnership growth.

Understand the Insurer’s Needs

Before approaching an insurer, take the time to understand their business and technology requirements. Tailor your solution to address their specific pain points and/or growth opportunities and be prepared to demonstrate how your offerings can be custom-tailored to add value to their organization. Whenever possible, promote “low lift, low integration” initiatives. Managers within insurance companies will often push back on new initiatives if they or their colleagues perceive that there will be a significant workload or disruption to existing processes.

Focus on the Benefits

Clearly articulate the benefits of your solution to the insurer, highlighting how it can help them achieve business goals, elevate them over competitors, and improve their bottom line. Whenever possible, provide case studies or testimonials from other clients to illustrate the impact of your solution.

Be Flexible and Adaptable

Recognize that insurers may have complex systems and processes in place, and be prepared to adapt your solution to integrate with their existing infrastructure. From the outset, offer customization options to meet unique needs. Be prepared to take on much of the actual integration work with the assistance of a guide within the insurance company. Create allies within the information technology area. Learn and speak their language. Assure your potential client that your goal is to lighten their workload wherever possible.

Provide Ongoing Support

Offer ongoing support and training to help the insurer’s team better understand, utilize, and integrate your solution. Be responsive to feedback and be willing to make adjustments as needed to ensure a successful integration.

Build Relationships

Patience is perhaps the most important attribute a good tech partner can possess. As mentioned earlier, many insurers still rely on analog processes for accomplishing some tasks before, during and after policy issue. Try not to show frustration with insurers that may be moving slowly. Where there is a significant opportunity for success, let them know that you and your team are in it for the long haul. Focus on creating long-term relationships based on trust and reliability. Demonstrate your commitment to their success by delivering on your promises and providing exceptional, responsive customer service.

Know When To Let Go

If you’ve taken all these steps and the revenue opportunity is not progressing, you may need to move on. This is daunting, especially when the potential for massive success is there. But if the insurer has not lived up to their end of the commitment, or if you find it impossible to manage their expectations profitably, it may be in your best interest to professionally and tactfully end the relationship.

The Bottom Line

A mutually-beneficial relationship. That’s the goal for insurers and technology solutions when navigating the integration process to achieve successful outcomes. Collaboration between insurers and niche technology solutions has the potential to drive innovation and create value for both parties, ultimately benefiting the insurance industry as a whole. 

Author: Craig Simms

Author: Craig Simms

Head of Partnerships
Craig@lifelegacy.io

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