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September 27 2016 | Karen Furtado

SMA has announced the winners of the 2016 SMA Innovation in Action Awards for Insurers, recognizing four insurers whose ground-breaking projects and initiatives enable them to advance on their transformation journeys toward becoming Next-Gen Insurers.

Innovation is an indispensable element of every insurer’s vision of their future state as a Next-Gen Insurer. It enables new approaches in the five key areas of SMA’s Next-Gen Insurer Model: business model, customer, innovative culture, products and services, and technology and data. Together, they power the cultural shifts necessary for the advancement and sustainability of our industry.

  • Next GenBusiness Model: Adopting nimble and fluid organizational structures, adaptable business processes, flexible operational models, and new revenue models that leverage actionable insights from data and analytics.
  • Customer: Understanding and capitalizing on customer demographic shifts, improving the customer experience, addressing new needs, serving new segments, and supporting all customer channels.
  • Innovative Culture: Fostering cultural shifts across the organization to support innovative thinking, practices, and problem-solving. 
  • Products and Services: Promoting product innovation, adapting to the changing risk landscape, bundling offerings to augment value and loyalty, enhancing dynamic rating, and capitalizing on data.
  • Technology and Data: Leveraging maturing and emerging technologies, modernizing technology environments, and developing robust data/analytics across the enterprise.

Winners of the SMA Innovation in Action Awards are reshaping insurance in one or more of these foundational areas through innovative approaches that create real business value. It is through these innovative approaches that insurers have an ideal opportunity to differentiate themselves in the market. Insurers ready to adapt to the new world order through innovation are poised to become tomorrow’s market leaders. As in previous years of the awards program, the innovation that SMA spotlights with these awards is great news for the insurance industry as a whole.

The insurer winners of 2016 SMA Innovation in Action Awards, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Figo Pet Insurance, for their unique approach to the pet insurance business model through the innovative use of emerging technologies. Their proprietary Pet Cloud platform offers policyholders real-time pet GPS tracking, cloud storage for medical records, mobile claims filing, social pet profiles, a pet-friendly business locator, texts and alerts for upcoming shots and appointments, and more. Figo’s reimagination of the pet insurance value proposition is focused on making life easier for people and their pets. Their holistic approach offers a meaningful example of how the insurance industry can reinvent its business models and customer engagement strategies for the digital world.
  • Meteo Protect, for offering customized, data-driven agricultural insurance for weather-related risks. Customers can choose each parameter of their weather policies, including crop, period of coverage, specific weather event and intensity, and payment amount. Meteo Protect’s Vivaldi platform aggregates huge volumes of weather-related data from 40 years of climate history; current readings from satellites, sensors, gauges, and other global weather data sources; and commodity prices and crop yields. Meteo Protect’s focus on the changing nature of weather risks and emphasis on the uncertain future expand the possibilities for the personalization of insurance products and services.
  • Motorists Insurance Group, for creating an innovation space as part of the cultural shift necessary for their 10-year vision of organizational transformation. This vision hinges on Motorists’ reinvention as an “85-year-old startup” designed for innovation and collaboration. The Intersection, their new collaboration space, represents a complete redesign of a 1940s space to prioritize natural light, bright colors, and transparency. It facilitates global collaboration through the use of cutting-edge technology, enabling work to shift seamlessly across time zones and continents. Motorists demonstrates how no company is ever too established to change, and that vast and intangible changes like developing an innovative culture can start small and still have a big impact.
  • Texas Mutual Insurance Company, for “Safety in a Box,” their groundbreaking virtual-reality app designed to teach construction workers the value of following safety procedures. The app is available for download to a user’s phone, which can be inserted into a Google Cardboard virtual-reality viewer for an interactive, 360-degree viewing experience in English or Spanish. The user can experience the four most dangerous construction site accidents, like a collapsing trench, and see how their safety choices determine the outcome of each scenario. Texas Mutual is distributing the boxes for free at construction industry events to promote workplace safety and reinvent their role as a workers’ comp insurer.

These four companies are rethinking what role an insurer has in the lives of their policyholders and the industry at large. Big data and advanced analytics give Meteo the ability to offer fully customizable policies for weather risks. Figo reimagines the role that an insurer can play in the lives of its policyholders – and, in this case, their pets. Texas Mutual has deliberately opened the distribution of their virtual-reality app to all workers who might benefit from it, not just those employed by Texas Mutual’s policyholders. These are not the insurance companies of the past.

Technology is an important part of each of these innovations, but it is not the only or even the primary component. These are companies that are thinking through entirely new value propositions for their customers. Motorists designed their new innovation space to further their company vision by fostering new modes of communication, with the emphasis on circular dialogue between remote teams rather than the webcams and videoconferencing technology that make that dialogue possible. Their internal focus on company culture, staff, communication methods, and environment is explicitly intended to build a foundation for broader, outward-facing change as part of their 10-year company vision. Motorists is an excellent example of a long-lived company working to reinvent itself by combining their existing mutual values and the most applicable and useful components of startup culture.

In conjunction with the announcement of the winners, SMA published a collection of case studies detailing the success stories of these four winners and the 16 other insurers that participated in the SMA Innovation in Action Awards program.

The 2017 SMA Innovation in Action Awards will open for submissions in April, and it is certain that next year at this time we will have more new and outstanding examples of innovation within our industry to share. In the five years that SMA has given out these awards, we have seen clear evidence of the incredible strides being made within our industry by insurers and solution providers alike. It’s a great time to be in insurance.

furtado karen w

To learn more, please contact:
Karen Furtado
Strategy Meets Action, a ReSource Pro company