The insurance sector is experiencing rapid change as new technology, new players and higher consumer expectations redefine the landscape. The leaders in this industry are innovators. In 2021, Assicurazioni Generali (Italy) launches the crown-Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2021 Global Innovator Award! What makes Generali the winner? And what has given Discovery and China Life silver and bronze in this highly controversial category?
Generali's winning strategy
Generali was named Global Innovator 2021 for his many innovative projects. These include its Smart Automation Center of Excellence, Vehicle Ownership Lifecycle Digital Management and its use of AI-augmented underwriting, which uses geospatial data. But this is not a one-time project innovation lies in Generalis DNA. "Innovation lies in Generali's heritage, present and future," says Danilo Raponi, Group Manager for Innovation. "We have continually renewed and reinvented ourselves to remain competitive for over 190 years."
"Innovation and digital transformation" is a key pillar in Generali's strategy for 2019-2021. The goals of this strategy are to deliver world-class experiences to its customers, agents and employees by leveraging both external and internal innovation.
“The group is committed to spending € 1 billion on digital transformation and innovation during its 2019-2021 strategy. It is a strong proof of the management's importance in what drives the company forward in the future, says Raponi. "The insurance is changing fast and we do everything to ensure that Generali is a main person in change, not a follower."
For innovation to thrive, I believe it must become part of an organization's culture. Generali's vision "Innovation everywhere for all" anchors innovation in the daily efforts of its 70,000 people in about 400 companies and more than 50 countries. In 2020, this was translated into hundreds of innovation projects – which utilize both external and internal innovation – which aim to improve internal processes and the customer experience. In 2020, the company launched the largest AI and analytics program ever seen in the group, 3.6 million customers in ten countries used its mobile and web hubs, and virtual agents served customers and agents using technologies that streamline and renew insurance processes.  Recent examples of Generalis innovations include bAIby, an AI-based device that translates the cry of a newborn; Highway Parametric Microinsurance, which provides automatic refund of late fees; Smart Savings, a solution that converts automatic retirement contributions by rounding off card transactions; Smart Gallery Pro, an AI-driven solution that utilizes images to streamline engine claims; and City Forward, a predictable machine-language model that drives real estate investment.
A key element in the strategy for innovation and digital IT transformation is the Generalis Smart Automation Center of Excellence, which accelerates business transformation and increases operational efficiency. “Smart Automation is not about applying robotic automation to simple repetitive tasks; for Generali, it is a combination of methods and techniques used to identify behaviors, content and information as well as to analyze, prioritize and automate processes. It is an innovative approach to creating value, which enables significant improvements in the company's operations and user experience, says Raponi.
What are the key ingredients for innovation success? "Innovation remains, by definition, an area where testing and experimentation are inevitable," says Raponi. “At the same time, we interpret innovation with a certain dose of pragmatism, because we believe it is necessary to focus on the projects and ideas that are most strategic for the company. The road ahead is long and uncertain, but we are starting to see some promising results. "] Its Vitality model, which stimulates and rewards healthier lifestyle behaviors and prices this behavior at insurance rates, is changing the insurance markets globally. The Vitality model has been adopted by insurance executives, including John Hancock, Manulife, Generali, AIA, Ping An Health, Prudential, IGI Life and Sumitomo Life. An ecosystem of reward partners, technology assets, clinical capabilities and actuarial data and structures help partners integrate behavioral change into products and prices. Together, this network of Vitality insurance companies represents more than 30 percent of the global personal protection market, with over 40 million lives in 27 countries.
What positions does Discovery position as a global leader in innovation insurance? Discovery's corporate culture is based on disruptive thinking, the company says. Instead of leaving innovation to chance, it has integrated it as an important, planned function for working at Discovery. As a result, Discovery has introduced over 150 product innovations since 2013.
Discovery has introduced 15 innovations in a number of categories in the Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2021. These include the Vitalitydrive smartphone and sensor technology, a solution that measures driving behavior without the need for deep installed telematic units; Crowdsearch, a solution that uses the 500,000-strong network of Discovery app users and wireless telematics sensors to locate stolen vehicles. AI Quote is an outstanding solution that won the Core Insurance Transformation 2021 Award. With the help of AI quotes, brokers and clients can upload a PDF or photos of competitors' insurance and investment documents by phone or desk and get a corresponding Discovery offer in a few seconds.
China Life – 178 patents 2020
China Life is China's largest life insurance company and the first insurance company to list in New York, Shanghai and Hong Kong. It follows an innovation-driven development strategy, with technological innovation as one of three major engines. In 2020, it applied for 178 new technology patents that include cloud, blockchain, big data, AI and mobile features. The goal is to deepen the integration of technology within the life chain's value chain – and to achieve this in a way that sets a benchmark for the industry.
By 2020, it paid nearly 16.1 billion in damages, of which 70 percent were handled using its intelligent service model (structured data, intelligent risk control, automation) throughout the process. It also uses technology to solve important challenges – this includes direct payment of medical damages via a micro-insurance product that alleviates risks and difficulties in poverty-stricken segments. It is a solution Harvard Business School uses to illustrate groundbreaking solutions in the Chinese insurance sector.