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Transforming the customer experience in life insurance – interview with iptiQ Americas CEO Phil Walker


In this interview, iptiQ Americas CEO Phil Walker uncovers the current state of customer experience in life insurance. What are the trends, where are we currently headed, and what can be done today to transform the customer experience?

Why did you decide to change the customer experience within life insurance?

Globally, customers’ expectations are changing. Customized solutions fueled by data deliver speed and efficiency through new technology. Accessibility is expected but the insurance industry has struggled to keep up. The insurable protection gap for mid-market customers continues to grow with each passing year. It’s not a lack of demand. It’s poor processes.

We saw an opportunity to protect more families by accelerating the changes the industry knows are needed. We’ve shown that it is possible to create simple journeys that deliver high-value life insurance products quickly, and as much as 9x more efficiently. Policyholders, distribution partners and carriers all benefit from this.

How has consumer behavior shifted in relation to buying life insurance?

Until a few months ago, I would have said, “Not very much.” Around the globe, the infrequency of the life insurance purchase and the strength of traditional distribution held back progress in customer expectations, compared to more frequently purchased property and health coverage. Overwhelmingly, the majority of policies and premium followed traditional patterns and channels. Change was happening, but it was slow, and it wasn’t customer-led.

COVID-19 changed all that. Suddenly, carriers and distributors were under immense pressure to modernize—by which I mean “digitize.” Customers pushed strongly for more efficient ways to buy coverage. Mid-market customers are now demanding accelerated life products and eschewing fluid-based underwriting. In five weeks, the industry leaped forward 10 years. The new mid-market baseline is that sales and servicing must be seamlessly digital and responsive to customers’ omni-channel buying preferences.

What role will technology play in the future for making more valuable products for the middle market? How will it evolve?

In the future, all of us will look to a single source for a wide variety of coverages—the “Amazonification” of buying behavior seems inevitable in some shape or form. We are committed to leading this transformation. For companies without legacy systems, or those using our infrastructure, costs are coming down quickly and access is expanding. At the same time, the industry is just beginning the journey of fully digitizing distribution to support a broader array of new products in a single journey—we see new tech platforms as key to the introduction of innovative products.

How can insurers and insurtechs develop partnerships to provide a better end product for the customer?

The hot word in the industry right now is “co-creation”—carriers and platforms are coming together to create new possibilities. “Not invented here” simply can’t compete with “best solution wins.” At iptiQ, we’re connecting data, devices and people to enhance existing value chains. Customers and distributors are looking for product choices that exceed the vertical integration limits of any single insurer. We support clients with ancillary products, value chain solutions and fully digital products that complement their many strengths. By establishing new partner relationships, carriers are accelerating their digital strategies and leveraging their strengths with customers and distributors. I think that trend is here to stay.

Looking forward, what do you think will be the key enablers for driving more innovation and adaptability within life insurance?

Culture. It is going to be even more critical. We really can’t stress this point too strongly. COVID-19 was an extraordinary event that showed plainly the great differences between who responded well and didn’t. How quickly different parts of the industry reacted depended in large part on leadership and mindset, not technology and infrastructure. We’ve always embraced an agile mindset and pushed the progression of our teams and tech. It’s led to fast growth and collaborative partnerships, enabling incredible innovation. Balancing these behaviors with excellent processes and controls will be key to winning at scale. It’s an immense leadership challenge that determines who will prosper.

About Phil Walker

Phil Walker is the Chief Executive Officer of iptiQ Americas, responsible for delivering great life and health insurance solutions to American families through partners they trust. A founder of five companies, he has more than 30 years of experience transforming financial services businesses. This includes 15 years in the life and health insurance industry as an executive and as a consultant to carriers, distributors and investors. Phil believes that empowered teams with clear missions can change the world. Prior to joining Swiss Re, he founded a carrier focused on delivering affordable term life insurance to mid-market consumers through electronic channels and a healthcare management company. His prior experience also includes building and running the digital units for Capital One and Thomas Cook Group.

About iptiQ

iptiQ by Swiss Re is a global risk-tech company. Its digital platform helps carriers and distribution partners accelerate access to new customers and products. Around the globe, iptiQ provides a cutting-edge B2B2C digital insurance platform, world-class underwriting capabilities and high-value products.

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