Why staying relevant in the life insurance industry requires constant innovation
Staying relevant in an industry that is always changing can be difficult. While change can build momentum and disrupt industry norms, it can also create misalignment between traditional, risk-averse avenues and those that are unknown and more exploratory in nature. We sat down with Adriano de Matteis, Managing Director, Southern Continental Europe, RGA and Emmanuel Djengue, Director, Innovation and Partnerships EMEA, RGAX to discuss how life insurance carriers can stay relevant in an ever-changing industry.
Welcome Adriano and Emmanuel, why is the changing life insurance industry a challenge?
Over the last couple of decades, life insurance carriers have seen their market opportunities and challenges shift dramatically. Innovation is no longer a strategy to get ahead of the market. It’s a survival mandate. Yet innovation involves risk, and taking any new product or service to market can lay both reputations and financial stability on the line.
Is innovation a strategic priority at RGA?
Yes, our global teams are constantly challenging the status quo. RGA is always exploring exciting opportunities, working to expand the footprint of the life insurance ecosystem, and finding new and different ways to accelerate the development of solutions that inspire greater consumer engagement and interest.
We believe that finding the right balance between applying proven processes and methodologies, while still driving innovation and change, is rooted in identifying the right challenge to solve and ensuring that that challenge stays top of mind throughout.
One of the ways that RGA helps carriers accelerate innovation while mitigating some of the risks, is by utilizing a disciplined sprint methodology. These are short, focused sessions that bring together a diverse group of collaborators to address some of the life insurance industry’s toughest challenges. Our team also brings value to the industry and helps drive innovation forward through strategic investment, partnerships, and product development expertise.
Can you elaborate more on your innovation process? Do you have a success story to share?
Our innovation process is designed with partners and customers in mind. The goal is to solve a previously unsolvable industry challenge. We do this by bringing the right people to the project, working through group dynamics to ensure the best ideas rise to the surface, standing up rapid prototypes, providing access to deep reinsurance knowledge, and ultimately creating an execution plan that covers a variety of bases. This process is aimed at breaking down existing barriers within teams or organizations – oftentimes barriers that are unknown even to the teams themselves – to help drive immediate, real impact.
As an example, the RGA team in Canada partnered with front-end startup PolicyMe, and a leading Canadian insurer to design an exclusive end-to-end insurance sales solution. The development process and the innovative solution that was created really showed the power of industry collaboration. PolicyMe, a digital life insurance advisor, offers customized life insurance recommendations for customers based on various sources of information. Through RGA’s deep market knowledge and technical expertise, the PolicyMe platform was leveraged to create a digital distribution channel that helped streamline the overall client experience, speed up the sales process, and improve conversions. This collaboration and innovative partnership led to a new approach to solving the age-old industry challenge of effectively reaching more consumers as well as optimizing an underwriting questionnaire for an online journey. Overall, the PolicyMe initiative laid out a strong foundation for future digital offerings and similarly scalable opportunities with other carriers and insurtechs.
What do you think the future will bring for life insurance? And for RGA?
Life insurance has a meaningful role to play in the future of protection. Industry disruption – from technology, changing social norms, and competition from emerging and longstanding companies – have led to a heightened need to embrace and evolve alongside our clients and partners. We believe that the power of collaboration is at the core of the insurance industry’s next phase of innovation. As an example, we see insurers looking at new ways of designing policies for seniors, exploring the self-employed market and discovering ways to engage this demographic; and most importantly, how to effectively reach and protect the underserved markets. These are the types of companies we like to partner and work with as they value fresh eyes and an innovation mindset.
RGA’s objective is to help carriers approach product development more quickly and cost-effectively while embracing new technologies (e-underwriting) and marketing techniques (data, predictive, social media).
Within the industry there is now a strong focus on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, as well as Sustainability. We are working with clients and partners on developing products for more diverse audiences and incorporating solutions from a corporate social responsibility perspective – thinking more about the future and how to plan for what’s to come. Many of our clients are talking more openly about the theme of ‘well-being’ and exploring how to bundle in more health-focused solutions both in terms of physical, financial and mental health.
All of these important industry – and worldly – topics will continue to drive new and different innovation avenues and collaboration within the life and health space, and most definitely within insurtechs. If insurers want to remain relevant and continue to bring value to their policyholders, it will be increasingly important to consider a variety of new and unique approaches to engagement and distribution.
RGA is one of the largest global life and health reinsurance companies and 2023 marks 50 years of doing business. Distinguished by its depth and health expertise, RGA supports clients and partners around the world through innovative approaches and customized solutions. As a leading global reinsurance company RGA focuses primarily on life- and health-related reinsurance solutions, its core products and services include life reinsurance, living benefits reinsurance, group reinsurance, health reinsurance, financial solutions, facultative underwriting, and product development.