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Beyond Life: The Experience of Living
October  2019

ReMark’s sixth Global Consumer Study examines the latest consumer attitudes and behavioral trends in the insurance industry. This year’s study takes the pulse of consumer health to examine the burgeoning desire for wellness solutions, applications of machine learning and Artificial Intelligence – developments that are attracting attention from both consumers and industry.

Customers want security
Educated, tech savvy consumers are increasingly concerned with doing the very best for themselves – and are looking for trusted providers to support and reward their commitment with products and services which create a broader definition of protection.

By and large, these engaged consumers understand and recognize the need to get active and welcome the role that technology plays in their quest for a healthier self. Among this cohort, activity levels are increasing, diets are changing, and health management is improving the quality of life for those living with chronic conditions.

Appetite for improvement
With a near universal appreciation of the benefits of healthier living and a widespread acceptance that there is room for improvement – a mere 4% felt there was no aspect of their lifestyle they could improve – healthier living is high on the agenda of consumers and
insurers alike.

And with engaged consumers keen to use technology to advance and achieve their health goals – starting with more exercise (27.3%) and less stress (22.7%) – advances in fitness tracking technology offer the promise of a symbiotic relationship between insurers and consumers.

Figure 1 - What is your attitude towards the use of AI in the provision of customer service?

Where there’s a will, there’s a wearable
Consumers are keen to know much more about themselves and are receptive to tech developments that advance their understanding. Such developments should be considered for their potential impact on an individual customer’s health management and the industry’s product design and risk management, but not at the cost of the customer experience.

Wearables are closely linked with achieving fitness objectives, with a third of users considering them to be an aid to a healthier lifestyle. Adoption figures increase year on year, with an encouraging 65% of respondents claiming to own a wearable or with the intention to do so. And with 60% considering them to have a positive impact on their exercise regime, insurers aiming to promote the use of wearables will find themselves preaching to the converted.

But recognizing the need for behavioral change is one thing. Sustaining the motivation to make those changes is quite another.

New technologies, particularly advances in tracking and monitoring devices, provide the means for a mutually beneficial cooperation between life insurers and their customers. The confluence of a responsible, health-conscious consumer, personal tech and realtime data monitoring make proactive health management a reality, enabling individuals to manage and even prevent a range
of medical conditions.

Insurers in search of a role
For the insurer in search of a role, influence, like trust, is there to be earned by building stronger relationships. Partnership is key between insurer and customer – and essential between insurer and medical tech experts to develop health management solutions that serve the customer’s interest. By facilitating, promoting and supporting healthier lifestyles, insurers stand to benefit twice – from improved mortality risk and from stronger customer relationships.

Figure 2 - When you feel stressed, what are the main causes of this stress?

AI – always invisible
5G, IoT, AI – connectivity, capacity, capability and opportunity are burgeoning. The technology that drives it will become ever more complex and largely invisible, indivisible from what we do and how we do it.

Consumer understanding of AI is generally low and, though a global average of 40% claim to be comfortable using AI in insurance, consumers are still cautious of its use in the insurance sector. But it’s an upward trajectory , and familiarity with consumer AI devices breeds contentment. Hence India’s 64.8% device ownership yields a 77.7% rating for those comfortable using AI in insurance, while Japan’s comparatively low ownership of 23.4% translates to just 28.3% comfort rating.

Whether consumers really do understand the AI they encounter, the complexity is baffling to most and largely irrelevant from a consumer perspective. Just make it work.

As ever, information, education and robust governance count, for both consumers and partners alike. The industry has a responsibility to its customers to ensure that tech developments are applied without undue discrimination. Doubts and fears will persist, but deployed to enhance the consumer experience, AI can be more readily “accepted” unseen and everywhere.

Working with unicorns – collaboration not capitulation
The insurance industry is ripe for disruption – but it doesn’t follow that traditional insurers are ripe for destruction. Creating a frictionless experience and sustainable value is not a lone pursuit. And the fear that established players will be comprehensively rolled over by InsurTech entrants has yet to be realized. While price savings would encourage 59% of respondents to purchase from a non-insurance brand, 56% would be concerned about the financial security of such a brand.

The evidence suggests it’s not a binary choice. What we see in practice is partnership and collaboration, insurers and innovators playing to their strengths to develop the best customer experience. Although barriers to entry have been lowered, the bar remains sufficiently high – and consumer confidence in buying protection from non-insurance brands sufficiently low at just 12% – that collaboration is a more effective path to success for both incumbent and challenger, especially in the Life insurance sector.

Figure 3 - What would motivate you to use an InsurTech company?

A new language for Life
In short – no corporate body is an island. Such is the complexity of a seamless customer experience – of the insurance ecosystem, of providing sustainable, long-term value – that no one operates in isolation.

Consumer sentiment and contemporary expectations suggest that companies have a stronger than ever role to play in developing society. But the demands are greater too – more is expected, less excepted. Tech-savvy they may be, but with 46% still preferring human interaction in customer service, consumers understandably want the best of both worlds.

Understanding is key. By learning about, and contributing to, each individual consumer’s health development and prioritizing the positive factors that could improve their health or aid prevention, iinsurers can make a real difference to underlying health – changing the industry’s image by creating a more personalized, proactive and holistic consumer experience for insurance protection. That is, after all, the name of the game.