It was my pleasure to chair ALU School of Insurance’s final speaker event of the year titled ‘The Future of the Insurance consumer’ which was hosted by Hannover Re.

Our speakers, Abu Addae, co-founder and CEO of LifeCheq and Soeren Kruse, Business Development Manager at Hannover Re, were appropriately provocative and they explored numerous opportunities for creating a captivating insurance proposition.

Actuarial consultant - Insurance in South Africa

The audience engaged in a fiery debate over a recent death claim declined by Momentum due to material non-disclosure by the person insured.

The incident attracted a lot of media and public commentary across the country prompting Momentum to issue a statement clarifying its position.

What appears to be a seemingly straightforward case to a layman, in reality has several facets to consider.

In responding to the public outcry to pay the claim for which the cause of death did not relate to the information that was not disclosed, MMI could have easily conceded and settled.

Instead, MMI opted to uphold its decision to abide by a critical principle of insurance of ‘utmost good faith’; where it is the duty of the client to disclose all facts relevant to the insurance policy to the insurer.

The incident highlighted the increasing access to real-time information in our societies and the role that the court of public opinion could play. I expect we will see many more of these cases in our media in future.

Actuarial consultant - South African insurance

The Needs of The Future Insurance Consumer

The debate progressed to the needs of the consumer of the future (and predominantly in South Africa), noting that there will not be a uniform consumer to cater for but that progress requires a change in the mindset of the incumbent players in the industry.

There is need to focus on the issues that consumers are trying to solve and which are relevant to their lives and avoid getting drawn into the attractiveness of fitting solutions to insurers’ existing frameworks or infrastructure.

There was a sense that product proliferation is often the name of the game but it is certainly not the answer. Consumers need more solutions that serve them in practice rather than those which make theoretical sense and have pages of fine print attached to them. Human expectations should drive solutions with technology and data playing an enabling role. This is all easier said than done, of course.

A survey undertaken by Gartner (2017) found that top performing organisations allocate 34% of their IT budgets to digital and innovation investments compare to 18% at typical performing organisations. How far off the mark is the industry?

There was a sense that the giants of old would not survive to see the new dawn but that there are many innovators who are demonstrating how to disrupt the long-standing model. KNIP, a Switzerland-based company was an example that caught my attention as facilitating consumers’ interaction with insurers and providing hassle free intermediation.

Insurance in South Africa – Life Cover, Health and Home Insurance

With many South African insurers aiming for the holy grail of ‘customer-centricity’ perhaps walking in the shoes of customers’ would highlight some low hanging fruit – if any of the decision makers have recently lost a loved one, suffered damage to their property or experienced an illness which required medical attention these experiences would be highly instructive about how much more work there is to do.