Technology hasn’t slowed down to wait for the outdated insurance industry to catch up. Everything from self-driving cars, big data, and sharing economy platforms have tremendous potential to disrupt the industry, and we're seeing the growing pains manifest already.
New technologies such as Uber and Airbnb leave many buyers and sellers in the unknown without much precedence regarding insurance coverage. Users of these services are often left in dangerous territory when it comes to possible coverage gaps. Further, alongside the sharing economy platforms comes a new wave of technologies that need to be integrated into insurance policy (i.e. who’s to blame for an accident involving self-driving cars?).
Furthermore, with the rising costs of insurance, average consumers are increasingly demanding change or an alternative to the current system. Shortly, we will see new players come in to fill insurance coverage gaps, help consumers gain power, and provide innovative insurance products driven by technology.
An Industry Ripe For Disruption
The role of the entrepreneur is to find inefficient industries, capitalize on latent resources, solve problems and create something of value. When we look at the current insurance industry, we see inefficiency and a lack of comprehensive service within an overall outdated system.
The emergence of the sharing economy has disrupted almost every industry, from hotels to maid services to education. The insurance industry, which usually protects all other commercial exchanges; however, has been slow to adjust to such massive and widespread change. The static nature of the insurance industry has left many sharing economy workers in the dark concerning coverage. Thus, an opportunity presents itself for newcomers to take the place of traditional insurance companies, or for the traditional insurance companies to adjust.
A prime example of an industry that has been under rapid transformation without the support of its insurance market is the auto-industry. Uber drivers used to be covered by their auto insurance when off the clock, switching over to Uber insurance while with a passenger, and left with no coverage in between. However, a new startup, Metromile, has created an innovative auto-insurance product based on a pay per mile policy. Big names such as GEICO, USAA and MetLife are also now beginning to provide alternatives such as rideshare insurance. These types of deals also appeal to segments of the population who drive less than 10,000 miles a year. As we see a general trend towards less millennial car ownership and a push towards public or shared transportation, we’ll see platforms like these become even more relevant.
Self-driving cars, on the other hand, pose as powerful vehicles for ripple-effect disruption. With the self-driving car tests showing a promising safety factor in the future, we may see premiums drop by more than half in the next decade or two. (For related reading, see: Self-Driving Cars: Shifting Gears in Key Sectors.)
Control for the Consumer
In the insurance industry, consumers have been unable to keep up with the unsustainable growth in costs. For example, a growing number of Americans now seek alternatives to traditional health insurance. (To learn more, see: 5 Alternatives to Traditional Health Insurance.)
Consumers must find a balance between safeguarding against the possibility of potentially high medical bills while trying to stay within a budget. The issue is that policies can often be confusing, with no way to benchmark the value of different insurance products.
Dan Karr, CEO, and founder of Injured Money launched the FinTech startup after a bike hit him and he was slammed with over $100,000 in uncovered medical bills. Lucky for him, he sued and did not have the pay the price, unlike so many others in his situation without the resources to prevail. Karr’s consumer insurance rating platform aggregates and analyzes information from many databases to judge the insurance products performance in relation to one another. The platform then relays this information to the consumer. (For related reading, see: 2016’s FinTech Disruptors: How Can You Benefit?)
The millennial generation appreciates the do-it-yourself approach to dealing with insurance companies and thus, mobile technology continues to grow in dominance in all arena, including personal finance and insurance. Mobile technology offers quotes, transmits data, reports claims, and even allows the finding of insurance agents by the consumer on demand. The insurance industry will continue to be shaped by the advent of technology, with the ability to increase transparency and efficiency through complex algorithms and big data.
The Bottom Line
Apart from the highly controversial Affordable Care Act, close to nothing has changed in the insurance industry in decades. It’s an industry ripe for disruption with a lot of room for change in light of new technology such as sharing economy platforms, self-driving cars and the advent of big data. As traditional insurance leaves many consumers frustrated and desperately seeking new options, there’s no better time for insurance industry entrepreneurs to disrupt. Moving forward, we can expect a growing number of newcomers with platforms built on eliminating newly occurring coverage gaps, bolstering the power of the consumer, and offering alternative insurance products supported by cutting-edge technology. (For related reading, see: 10 FinTech Companies to Watch in 2016.)