This is also a balancing act: on the one hand, personalization and insurance are, in and of themselves, mutually exclusive as a business model. Insurance for just one person doesn’t work. Insurance works because it is borne by a collective, thus it requires, in principle, a group providing mutual support. However, personalization in addressing customers, in communication or processes that’s what is driving us, what we urgently need to implement. For products to be flexible enough to “go along with” changes in a policyholder’s living situation and almost automatically react when it comes to re-personalizing a product framework. Because if I, as a customer, expect my specific problem to be solved quickly and easily at any given point in time, the standard cookie cutter process isn’t what I consider “personal” – that is, the personal addressing of individuals even within a collective.
Correct. And if we don’t take this opportunity, we run the risk of completely losing touch with customers and being reduced to our core business of risk balancing – of only being perceived as a system that pays bills and no longer as people. Let me give an example: in today’s health insurance, we reimburse you for your medical bills. That’s our business model. You have private insurance, you go to the doctor, get a bill, take a picture of it and send it to us, your insurance provider, through our app. We check it, reimburse you and you get your money the next day. Done. Everyone’s happy, it all worked perfectly. In the future, we’ll no longer just reimburse customers, we’ll be a part of their lives – more accurately, their health. Why should we not much rather prefer to react by saying, “We know a lot about health, so we’ll help you to not get sick in the first place”? Consequently, in the future we’ll be much more in demand as a health manager. We’ve already taken this step by offering the Vivy app, our health assistant.
“Simple individual discovery is at an end. What I want to know directly from customers is what they expect.”
Everything’s on our radar. What we’re currently working on, for example, is voice control. With Alexa, Siri, OK Google, we see the quality of these offerings has improved tremendously in the last two years, but we don’t believe it’s a sales channel. Someone sitting in their living room and asking Alexa to sign an insurance policy is still pretty much a pipe dream. In three years, though, perhaps I’ll sing a different tune. It could work with another example: When buying glasses, I ask myself, “What will I actually get from my insurance for new glasses?”. Depending on the rate, the benefits could be different. Different glasses, different frames – that is, if we set up our benefits in a structured way, it would be child’s play for Alexa to find the answer. It checks the database, sees the customer hasn’t received any reimbursement for glasses this year, so then you would get 600 euros to go to an optician and get new glasses.
Yes and no. No, because we definitely have the data. If we were to use the data we already have, we would be way ahead. If we were to add the data we’ll get in the future, the better it would be if we could use it. This is why the entire insurance industry is currently working on analyzing data in a more targeted fashion – to be better able to assess risk situations – and, in doing so, create risk profiles that are more customer-focused. The same goes for determining probabilities of need. Data analytics – that’s the process of deriving information from data to be able to make customers a more precise offer – is an even more relevant topic. All of that, of course, is under the strict gaze of data protection, which naturally needs to be observed in the interest of faithful customer relations.
We’re a founding member of “InsurLab Germany” in Cologne, where we work with InsurTechs on a level playing field and develop ideas together. So there’s absolutely no reticence there. Just the opposite: if these “young guns” sometimes naively approach certain topics, they learn quickly from the insurance industry: “Man, there’s some experience that we should rely on.” And, conversely, we also learn some things from them.
For example, that no customer wants three different portals for three different policies just because they took out three different policies with different partners. These days, our customers can keep Policy A and a different Policy B in the same place they keep their Barmenia policy. With how we used to view ourselves, we wouldn’t have done that even a few years ago. In other words: someone had to come in and show us in the insurance industry that it’s possible to think in this customer-oriented manner. But that characterizes the thought process these start-ups have mastered. They understand the customer. It’s not witchcraft – just the opposite: it can be easily adapted. You just have to see things more often and more consistently from the customer’s perspective.