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There’s little doubt that insurers are feeling the effects of disruption. But in 2020, disruptive challenges arise not just from innovative competitors or the pace of technology change, but also from a pandemic that has up-ended lives, businesses and economies worldwide. It’s not surprising, then, that COVID-19 casts a long shadow on the Efma–Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards for 2020.
Even amid the uncertainty brought about by the novel coronavirus, the awards attracted around 360 entries from 240 institutions in 45 countries. The quality of the entries shows that insurance organizations are not allowing COVID-19 to derail their digital transformation programs—on the contrary, some are responding to the crisis by stepping up innovation and digital investment.
Given that submissions for the 2020 Awards were prepared as countries worldwide locked down their economies to stop the spread of the virus, they offer powerful insights into how well equipped insurers are for the ‘never normal’ world that is taking shape as we emerge from the pandemic.
Indeed, COVID-19 has changed the human experience in profound ways—how and what we consume; how and where we work; how we interact with others; how we move around; and more—and in so doing, it has supercharged a 20-year old trend of digitalization. Even as lockdowns start to ease in some countries, there is wide acceptance that the world has changed for good.
As such, what we are seeing unfold in 2020 is nothing short of a major realignment of the fundamentals of the insurance industry. Far from taking a pessimistic outlook for the medium- and long-term, leading insurers are seeing accelerated adoption and deployment of digital technology as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to innovate across business models, services and products.
More than that, it’s a chance for them to recreate their business around new definitions of value. Those that are embracing a long-term view, starting with their impact on the world and society, are poised to emerge as the leaders of the future. Tough challenges lie ahead, but as these pages show, many insurance leaders are primed to thrive beyond the pandemic.
Our analysis of this year’s entries identified seven key trends, which we explore in more detail in this paper.