It has been great to attend another year of the Insurance Innovators Summit in London this week, to learn about the ways in which both new insurtechs and established giants of the industry are continuously looking to innovate.
Following last year's conference, we reflected that a customer-centric approach remains key. It was therefore very interesting to hear from Ping An (who spent c.$3bn on R&D in 2018) on how they are using technology to provide added value for their customers. Their app "PingAn Good Driver" has 15 million active monthly users and is an integrated hub of information on customers' car insurance as well as practical driving-related services, such as where to find the nearest car parking spaces, roadside assistance, and airport pickup services. It also includes a function allowing users who have committed a traffic violation to pay the fine instantly via the app, and avoid the inconvenience and bureaucracy of the traditional paper-based fine system. It's a clear example of an insurer using technology to add value to its customers and the results are tangible - renewal rates among users are 9.5% above the company's average.
It was also clear that there is continuous innovation in how to best price risk. We heard from Kinga Kita-Wojciechowska of the University of Warsaw, whose PhD project applying artificial intelligence to Google Street View images of peoples's homes to more accurately assess the risk of a car insurance claim hit the headlines earlier this year. We also spoke with Munich Re, who have developed expertise in the challenging field of pricing cyber risk. They are leveraging this expertise by providing their insights to primary insurers in exchange for sharing in the benefits of a lower loss ratio.
Another theme from the sessions was that we are now entering a phase where there are a number of insurtechs at a mature stage, throwing off the "start-up" label, and attracting serious interest from institutional investors and strategic players in the market alike. Tractable is an insurtech that employs artificial intelligence to assess a damages claim by analysing pictures taken on the customer's smartphone, eliminating a costly manual assessment process. A few years ago, they came to the Summit with an idea and a concept for the future. This year, we heard how they have partnered with Ageas, the country's third-largest motor insurer, who are integrating the software into its claims management process. The Freshfields team have previously written on the Do's and Don'ts of Insurtech M&A (http://knowledge.freshfields.com/en/Global/r/3963/insurtech_insights___the_do_s_and_don_ts_of_insurtech_m_a), which looks like it is only going to become more important as insurtechs continue to mature.