Almost every industry is exploring innovative offerings that leverage emerging technologies and digitization. With an eye on customer service, a growing trend is to transform existing business processes and merge business functions across domains.
The insurance industry, which has perhaps lagged when it comes to technological advancements, is now embracing innovation as agile new age InsurTech firms redefine customer engagement through an experience-based approach and value-added services while policyholders increasingly adopt the digital channel, in addition to traditional channels.
The time is right to go digital to reach a more extensive customer base and to seamlessly connect with tech-savvy customers who seek new offerings that add value to core insurance products.
As insurers adopt digital technologies to provide value-added services and seamless delivery, they are looking to integrate with ecosystem partners such as customers, intermediaries, and other third parties to meet evolving product and service demands. Plug-in APIs – as well as digital and cloud platforms – can help insurers collaborate with InsurTechs and other ecosystem partners.
Insurers explore ecosystem integration for a seamless customer experience
Traditionally, insurers assumed a passive role – acting primarily as payers after a loss. However, the rise of technology and innovation is encouraging an expansion of responsibility to become a partner and preventer. These new roles strengthen customer relationships at multiple touchpoints, as outlined in the World Insurance Report (WIR) 2019.
The rise of digitally agile firms (including forward-thinking traditional insurers), coupled with intensifying margin pressures are driving insurers to integrate with partners.
Open APIs and cloud platforms, together with microservices, allow insurers to integrate partners’ services into the insurance ecosystem. Microservices’ architecture enables the creation of independently deployable services that are tied loosely together and accessible with the help of an API. Of insurance executives who participated in the WIR 2019, 39% cited implementing a cloud-native approach, and around 30% said their firm leverages open APIs.
For example, Mumbai-based Aegon Life recently partnered with eBaoTech to leverage the Shanghai digital solution provider’s middle-office open API platform to develop a digital platform. Aegon Life’s goal was to make it easier for new customers to buy policies while providing a superior experience for existing customers. The new partnership will help Aegon Life build a cloud-based, microservices, and event-driven architecture that provides a scalable backbone for high-volume and high-velocity eCommerce channels.
Partner integration allows insurers to gain greater reach and seamless connection with customers while enhancing policyholder experience. It enables insurers to break down information silos by streamlining operations and handling data and processes straight-through and in real-time. What’s more, insurers can add and offer partner services, in addition to their own products, without being restrained by legacy infrastructure.
Better integration with ecosystem partners can help insurers reduce operational inefficiencies and turn-around time while boosting innovation. Not surprisingly, around 40% of insurers participating in the WIR 2019 said they have already started integrating with ecosystem partners.
For example, AXA Singapore has launched an end-to-end insurance transactional API that can be embedded into any digital ecosystem and used by partners to deliver real-time insurance services to customers.
In a nutshell, integrated systems allow a seamless flow of data and information to help insurers make the gradual shift from a policy-centric approach to a more customer-centric approach.
With customers being at the strategic heart of today’s tech-driven firms, an omnichannel presence is critical for life insurers – along with value-added services and innovative core products. Ecosystem integration will help insurers to onboard adjacent value-creating businesses while delivering complementary services that improve the overall customer experience.
 eBaoTech press release, “Driving Innovation in Digital Insurance, Aegon Life on-boards eBaoTech,” May 8, 2019, recentl
 AXA press release, “AXA Turns Insurance-as-a-Service A Reality By Launching Region’s First Partner Transactional API,” November 13, 2017, https://www.axa.com.sg/latest-news/axa-turns-insurance-as-a-service-a-reality-by-launching-regions-first-partner-transactional-api