Authors: Mark Nawrath, PMP, MBA, and Dean Ferdico
Today’s technology advancements have the potential to transform businesses across industries. Aging systems and increased demand for new and innovative products mean insurance is ripe for disruption, but new solutions are not always as easy to implement as they may seem. Insurance is both complex and highly regulated: a double hit for Insurtech or non-insurance companies looking to break into the space. That said, there are endless opportunities for your company to make major waves in the industry…if you take a careful approach.
Based on our decades of insurance consulting along with our experience helping numerous Insurtech startups over the last several years, here’s what you should know as you break into the insurance market.
The insurance industry is highly regulated
Many of today’s Insurtech companies emerge from the finance world, where modern technology has transformed everything from customer service to the nature of banking itself. While U.S. banking must comply with a single federal charter, insurance products are subject to disparate rules in 51 jurisdictions, multiplied by 20 to 30 lines of business that each has its own individual coverages. The number of details required for each product filing can be staggering and small errors have the potential to stall the filing on the path-to-market.
Partnering with a seasoned insurance technology consulting company with state filings experts enables you to achieve a clear roadmap of what to expect, potential pitfalls, and areas to consider before you get too far along in the product development process. Experienced partners will provide you with a clear understanding of the playing field and help you draft a realistic strategy for rolling out your product.
Add insurance executives to your team
State Departments of Insurance (DOIs) look favorably upon companies with proven histories in insurance. They have no time to teach inexperienced technology companies or non-insurance companies the ins and outs of creating a compliant filing. Bringing a seasoned insurance executive onto your team – and partnering with proven insurance consultants – helps sidestep avoidable regulatory pitfalls and adds instant credibility to your organization in the eyes of the regulators. The same also applies when raising capital. Venture capital firms feel more comfortable investing in firms with experienced in-house teams and insurance consulting experts onboard.
Primary insurers are skittish
Around eight years ago, many primary insurance companies started issuing paper to unproven Insurtech companies – a move that ultimately damaged their standing with state DOIs. Since then, primary insurers (as well as reinsurance companies) are more discerning about with whom they will do business. After all, their reputations and licenses are on the line. This is where working with a seasoned insurance technology consulting company with state filings experts pays off. Having insurance consultants on your team to thoroughly review and pressure-test your proof of concept will help you stand out to primary insurers and reinsurance carriers.
Insurance compliance is full of hurdles
Receiving approval from state DOIs and remaining compliant also means your policy, billings, and claims administration systems must all meet regulatory standards. These standards include everything from how your products are priced to how you advertise to consumers to how data must be reported. Some requirement documents are thousands of pages long, a difficult task to manage for teams short on insurance experience.
Whether you are implementing an Insurtech solution or offering ancillary insurance along with your primary service offerings, insurance product development is a tricky process. Even bureau-based products that lean heavily on Insurance Services Office (ISO) or National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) content are extremely complicated to interpret and adopt in a compliant manner. Seasoned insurance consultants like the team at Perr&Knight know this content and the related regulatory requirements inside and out because we work with them daily.
We help new Insurtech and non-insurance companies understand how to consume the content to develop an insurance product, how to structure the content for systems development and testing, and how to implement a compliant operational process from the outset. Building compliant systems and communications from the ground up protect your company from speed to market issues or costly re-work while avoiding potential fines for your carrier partner.
Use professional “matchmakers”
Primary insurance companies and reinsurers have what Insurtech companies and non-insurance companies need: approved licenses from state DOIs and capacity. Insurtech/non-insurance businesses have what primary carriers are looking for: fresh ideas, technologies, and access to new markets. Both must vet one another, a daunting task if neither company can accurately verify the validity of the other party’s credentials.
Experienced insurance consultants like the team at Perr&Knight can provide an insurance-focused perspective to determine whether the partnership will be beneficial for both parties. Evaluations from unbiased insurance professionals can increase your confidence that your prospective partner can deliver.
The future is full of opportunity
Technology and consumer product development move with lightning speed. Insurance, on the other hand, is extremely sluggish. The merging of these complementary industries opens a plethora of opportunities for proactive companies, but success is never guaranteed. Re-framing your expectations, working with experts, and adopting a calculated approach to your new insurance offerings are the most effective ways to improve your position. Start exploring “what you know you don’t know” with seasoned insurance experts before you get too far down the road.