Most of us need some type of insurance at different points in our lives, and often more than one type of policy. The paperwork can be cumbersome, the claims drawn out, and the whole process daunting. Is the insurance industry taking a digital cue from others, and how can it become customer-empowering? Getsafe VP of Product & Design Konrad Heimpel shares insurance changes within tech and how its product development is different from other industries.
On the Development of Insurance Tech
With most industries, the way to go is digital. The insurance industry has seen the strides made with financial technology straight to smartphones, and wants to move from less paper and physical items to digital-first.
“On a bigger scale, insurance is pretty much following the whole FinTech space, but we’re only a couple of years behind, to be honest. The big trend that we already saw and successfully saw companies emerging in the FinTech space and entering the smartphone of users basically taking the whole personal finance space to the smartphone. The biggest, most evident trend that’s happening in the insurance space, as well. Not as major yet, but that is the trend.
The reason why we’re here is basically taking insurance from paper-backed to being like a fully digital service on our customers’ smartphones. Also, partly the reason for us being here, and shaping the other trends that you can see, is the trend of going more global. The incumbents, old insurance players, used to be strong within their country and not from outside of the country. Now you already see some of the insurtechs expanding quite rapidly. If you fully digitalize your insurance service, it’s easy to expand to other countries. You don’t physically need to go there and build an office to be there but just need to offer the service somehow.
From a product or tech perspective, going into more of an IoT and usage space coverage space, it’s definitely a trend that you can see, like pay per mile for car insurance based on your driving behavior. Your price is going to be adapted stuff like that. It’s something that companies are already doing. The adoption is going up.”
On Empowering People To Choose Their Own Insurance
The future is in the people’s hands, and Konrad believes one day, people will be empowered and feel more comfortable making their own decisions on insurance with confidence. However, we aren’t there yet, but it is the job of the tech industry and product leaders to get us there.
“Some other things that we’re doing differently or trying to do differently is that we believe that people should make their own decisions for insurance. The classical model is a thing that you go to an insurance agent, and they basically tell you what you need. We believe that it’s possible to be that transparent, that people can basically make their own choice. Plus, of course, having everything digital, we believe and can show that we can handle all of the processes more speedy, quicker than maybe others can do. …
[However], it’s a really complex task. Let’s take an example, like any kind of e-commerce business. If you buy a pair of shoes, you can show a picture, and you get to see the shoes, and you can imagine how they look on your feet. Maybe you describe the size and the material and the color. That’s basically it, and you know what you get. Then you buy them, and you most likely get what you just saw.
Insurance is different because insurance is something that you not immediately will get feedback on, whether it’s the right thing that you purchased. It will need like a couple of years, or like 10-20 years until you actually get the feedback if it was the right thing that you purchase. The time until you get this kind of feedback can be super long, you might forget about this. It’s really important that upfront, you need to make sure that people really understand what they get in like simple terms.
On the other hand insurance, by its nature, can be quite complex. Usually, if you look at an insurance contract, it is multiple pages full of terms and conditions and clauses. One approach is making those terms and conditions simpler in the first place. We’re working on that. But you can also only do that to a certain degree because it never will be just paying out anything that happens because then people would need to pay like a crazy amount of money for that. So you need to have some terms and some conditions. The complexity is in figuring out what specifically should people know about their terms and conditions in easy words so that they are able to understand what they’re actually buying and making sure that they understand whether or not they’re correctly covered against what they expect.”
On The Art of Product Management in the Insurance Industry
Customer experience and product management for insurance technology are completely different than any other industry, as the touchpoints can be — or should be — few and far between. For Konrad and other PMs in insurance tech, it is making the interaction count the most each time, and using the data they have from customers to improve time over time.
“What we really see from customers, and also what they expect from us, is to be really excellent in the few touchpoints that our product naturally has. We don’t naturally have that high amount of interactions with our customers. People are not supposed to use their insurance service, not yet, on a daily basis. The typical customer journey is people consider insurance, they choose it, they buy it, then they might over time want to adapt it, or ask a question about it for a specific time, like if you’re going to buy your company’s insurance, if you’re going to start a family, then you want to add them to the cover. That’s a typical transaction. Then hopefully not, but it happens that something happens. If a fire burned down something in your house, you want to have reimbursement on that one.
All of those transactions only happen rarely, so we don’t have that many touchpoints naturally. We need to make every touchpoint count, make every touchpoint really excellent. That’s super important. That’s where we also take great focus on, making sure that we like not only to develop those touchpoints, those interactions to 80-90%, because we know we can make it better tomorrow, but really try to nail every single touchpoint from the beginning, to make everything 100% perfect, think of every edge case, and so on.
The best example to take is the process of filing a claim because there are multiple challenges within that. The biggest potential for frustration for a customer is if they file a claim, and they get the answer like, ‘Hey, this is not covered, you’re going to get nothing.’ They thought they’re going to rely on the insurance, on the coverage but they couldn’t. So it’s really important to not only think about that specific touchpoint, if you think about how to make it successful but think about the whole customer journey beforehand. We’re analyzing lots of customer feedback and those kinds of rejection cases trying to figure out, okay, what should we have told them? Or what should have customers known before actually, maybe years before, to not have gotten into that moment of frustration? That is definitely one challenging part.
Another challenging part is that the process of handling a claim can also be quite complex because there’s lots of regulation and stuff behind it. So it might be that we in the back, we do lots of complex things, but for a customer, it should all feel very simple and fast. For that, we might need to ask customers for quite some information, they need to hand us over quite some documents when they file a claim. This is another challenge to make sure to find the balance between not annoying customers too much and asking too many questions, but getting enough information so that we can actually handle the process smoothly.”
About the host
Samantha Scott has carved an active history in product management, starting with NexJ Systems and moving from AppNexus to Etsy. Samantha is currently pursuing an MBA at Harvard Business School to further enhance her business acumen. Prior to that, she was the Director of Product Management at Capsule, a healthcare technology that provides clinical surveillance and medical device integration. Her career is backed by a Bachelor of Applied Science in Systems Design Engineering from the University of Waterloo. Before delving into products and product management, Samantha served as Toronto Hydro’s Compliance and Quality Analyst and TD’s Business Analyst.