Embrace for Impact: Consumers Expect Ethical Influence

From environmental impact to data transparency to how companies treat their employees during the coronavirus pandemic, customers care—and they expect insurance companies to care, too.

“A company’s broader ethics run deeper with customers today,” says Sasha Sanyal, global business leader, insurance, Genpact. “We see this trend continuing over the next decade as consumers continue to look for businesses that align with their personal values.”

The increasing emphasis on ethical impact is evolving the role that insurance companies play in their customers’ lives, as well as their operations and even their business model. However, this change isn’t a reversal in tracks. Rather, the insurance industry has an opportunity to metamorphosize their greatest—and already established—currency: trust.

“Insurers have an elevated role in providing services that protect their customers’ data, lifestyle and health,” Sanyal says. “They have the opportunity to build on the trust their policyholders place in them to develop deeper relationships, with cross-generational services that look more holistically at not just the customer’s policy but their lives and even society at large.”

Some companies are leading the charge into making a positive impact. Among others, Sanyal points to Swiss Re’s partnership with VanderSat, a Dutch startup, to provide easily scalable and efficient crop insurance.

“Using satellite technology to monitor and predict daily soil conditions across the globe that could indict potential crop loss, Swiss Re can offer parametric insurance products that payout to farmers based on predefined drought levels instead of only when there is a total crop loss,” Sanyal explains.

The increased image of a company as a holistic, moral entity is even changing the way insurance companies do business.

“While property-casualty insurers may focus on customer experience now, it is often in the context of a single-value chain,” Sanyal says. “They’re focused on selling, policyholder servicing or claims. In the future, those individual silos will merge into a single connected, data-driven experience in which insurers anticipate customer needs.”

“We can already see this starting to happen,” she continues. “Slice [a company with branches in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.] sells policies for people who rent their homes or rooms on a short-term basis. Drive Insurance [a Progressive company] offers protection for items that move, including cars, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. Both companies focus on covering assets through a completely online experience.”

Managing data is one of the emerging opportunities for insurance companies to take—or lose—control of the narrative and is “both the biggest challenge and opportunity for the future of the industry,” Sanyal says.

“On the one hand, insurers can access more data than they ever could before, use it to find patterns to help them quickly determine opportunities to deliver more personal attention, provide on-demand insurance, and even prevent claims from occurring in the first place,” she says. “On the other hand, to do this effectively requires having a responsible approach to collecting and managing data, and ensuring they do everything they can to maintain customer trust.”

AnneMarie McPherson is IA news editor.