The impact of technology on the insurance industry continues to be one of the more underrated developments in fintech. And while the level of disruption varies from one region to another, the intersection of insurance and technology is the growing source of innovation.
This year at FinovateEurope, we spoke with Roland Woerle, founder and partner of KONSULTA.eu, a boutique advisory firm, based in Austria, with a focus on the European insurance industry. KONSULTA helps insurers and brokers increase revenues, improve their customer experience, and manage business transformations.
“We are different, refreshing, highly-competent, fun, value-driven, and 100% customer focused,” Woerle described KONSULTA by way of introduction. “We are trying to help insurance players in their transformation, innovation, and customer/employee value propositions.”
Woerle is also senior representative at Vienna-based Match-Maker Ventures, where he helps startups that have already reached the proof-of-concept level scale their businesses. Previously, Woerle spent more than five years as Chief Operations Officer (Nordics/ Austria and CEE) for global financial services firm Aon, and more than ten years as Chief Operating Officer (Austria, CEE, CIS, and Nordics ) for leading insurance broker Marsh.
We talked about the role of technology in accelerating processes in insurance, and which business models benefit the most from the cost savings of technologies ranging from robotics to satellites. We also discussed the key distinction between companies with innovation teams and companies with innovation cultures, and the challenges businesses face in developing the latter from the former.
“Large insurance organizations they are still struggling with (this),” Woerle said. He pointed to issues with the company’s best and brightest often being pre-occupied with other, day-to-day tasks, as well as an incentive structure that does not reward what he called a “try and fail fast” approach to innovation, as major obstacles. Add to that insurance companies’ traditional risk aversion and it’s easy to see why “unconventional ideas,” as Woerle referred to them, face a challenging road to adoption.
Here are some of the top takeaways from our conversation with Roland Woerle this year at FinovateEurope in Berlin.
On platformification and the future of the insurtech
Woerle: (The platform economy) is highly relevant for insurance. We had a good debate in the afternoon, discussing where insurance companies might go into, and how they might become platform providers and solution providers for platforms. The industry as such might evaporate over time and morph into the platforms.
It’s a bit of a scary thought on the one hand. But, on the other hand, it’s a great opportunity for those who actually partner with the right platform providers. They can actually grow and grasp new opportunities in the market.
On the main ways the technology is changing the traditional insurance business
Woerle: I think that there are probably three areas where technology is really changing (insurance). First of all, it primarily speeds up the processes along the insurance value chain. Whether it’s distribution, underwriting, customer service … there’s huge potential for claims … just to make the process faster.
I see also tremendous potential on the B2B side, especially the large B2B speciality insurance lines like marine, where you can actually use satellite tracking, blockchain contracts in much more innovative ways around data analytics to drive down the tremendous costs in that industry.
On the relationship between insurance incumbents and insurtech startups.
Woerle: It’s still a difficult relationship to make work. I guess it’s the same as in the fintech space. It’s one of the things that KONSULTA is actually focusing on. We are working with startups and working with industry leaders to better match them to make sure it’s a win/win case for both of them.
They need to be true partnerships. Incumbents cannot see a startup just as a supplier. This won’t work. They will fail any procurement process. They will not “tick the boxes” which they need to tick. (Incumbents) need to nurture (startups). They need to see them as strategic partners.
So bringing them together, speaking the same language, seeing where value is added on both sides, and how can they make a win/win situation … I think that is the way to succeed.
Watch the full, six-minute interview on Finovate TV.