This article was first released in Insurance Day: https://insuranceday.maritimeintelligence.informa.com/ID1132209/Focus-Independent-brokers-are-critical-to-unlocking-the-value-of-technology-in-Asia
Broking firms understand better than most the importance of technology in shaping the experience of insurance for customers in the region.
While insurers in the Asia-Pacific region are exploiting digital initiatives and adopting innovative solutions to address industry-specific challenges, it is brokers that have a pivotal role to play in bridging the gap between successful digitalisation in the industry and creating value for clients with relevant and timely solutions.
Independent brokers in the region provide insurers with a more diverse choice of clients in an increasingly consolidated global broker segment. This independence is also an important driver in digitalisation. Ownership of data has been increasingly important and industry digitalisation puts even more focus on the issue. Brokers are looking for flexible solutions that do not tie them and their clients to a single insurer or the processing challenges associated with multiple insurer systems.
For independent brokers, success in digital transformation starts with selecting the right partner; one that is not only aligned with the business’ objectives but also engages with the business to understand the specific needs of its clients. The right partner is not a matter of the most competitive pricing; it is a platform that fits the business’ needs and a provider that shares their vision and values.
The Asia-Pacific region has an appetite for digital solutions. The Swiss Re Institute’s sigma study in 2019 estimated by 2029 that Asia-Pacific will account for 42% of global insurance premiums. Predictions for the growth in the use of digital technologies across the region are equally impressive. According to research conducted by Microsoft in partnership with IDC Asia/Pacific, the percentage of the region’s GDP derived from digital products and services will be around 60% by next year – this figure was about 6% just three years ago.
The adoption of digital technologies, such as cloud, internet of things, and artificial intelligence, as well as the authorisation of virtual insurance companies Bowtie and Avo by Hong Kong’s Insurance Authority are important milestones for the region. The Insurance Authority is further encouraging applications for online-only insurance company licenses with a separate fast-track process to bring these to market.
This kind of dramatic acceleration in the pace of digital transformation is something insurers are attuned to, with some embracing digital transformation and the role of technology in driving their businesses and enhancing their services and offerings to clients.
For independent brokers across the region the time to embrace technology is already here. Reaping the benefits of digitalisation is a business imperative.
Customers are embracing digital channels and technologies; some regulators are encouraging it and insurers are headed in the right direction providing bespoke solutions that better meet policyholders’ needs and bring state-of-the-art products and services to market.
The extent to which policy wordings are changing and adapting, particularly in relation to areas such as non-damage business interruption, earthquake, and typhoon coverages, is making clients more open to understanding the impact of emerging risk on their businesses.
They are looking to their brokers to not simply place risks but to educate them and identify the risks and bring solutions to the table to mitigate them.
Maximising the technology opportunities to deliver the holistic approach and value to clients is one thing, but for independent brokers to thrive in the digital environment, technology must go hand-in-hand with education and training on the emerging products and risks.
Brokers need an intensive understanding of products and solutions to create the right mindset and deliver clients the capabilities and knowledge needed to make the most of digitalisation. The regional and global insurers need to invest in the education of brokers to ensure they can fully leverage the risk transfer solutions today’s clients expect.
Synergy with insurers is important in the customisation of products and solutions. The use of big data and analytics to identify coverage gaps and build new solutions is also a valuable tool for brokers.
Innovation and the willingness to respond to emerging risks and the needs of clients are the drivers in value creation. Brokers should look to develop partnerships with solution providers able to bring wider services to the mix. Brokers need to avoid becoming isolated or focused solely on traditional answers to new and challenging questions on risk transfer.
At the heart of digital transformation is the opportunity to reduce operational costs and enhance the proactive identification and mitigation of risks. But the real winners will be those organisations that also truly understand the importance of digitalisation, its role in shaping the customer experience.
Sid Garcia is the Regional Manager of Brokerslink Asia-Pacific and the Chairman and President of Trinity Insurance Brokers in the Philippines.