There are moments that transform industries. Inflection points in which the future is less certain, yet everything feels newer. Insurers are in an industry that is undergoing one of these shifts right now. As technology invades a historically slow-moving industry, new possibilities are opening up and new opportunities are being presented. I believe that insurance is going through an “AWS Moment” as insurance products themselves become API-enabled.
The most widely-known use of API’s within insurance is for quoting. Online quoting has been the obsession of the industry ever since the pandemic started, for obvious reasons. The pandemic accelerated a long-term trend of consumers preferring to purchase online and interact with humans less. Very few insurance companies were prepared for this and it has become the #1 focus for many.
But Insurance as an API is a relatively new concept. It is the idea that not just quoting but the entire policy lifecycle is available for external consumption. A handful of pioneering companies are just starting to roll it out, with remarkable results. The companies realize that in order to be dominant in the next phase of the insurance industry, they have to relinquish control of the customer to the companies that already have them. Vetting partners is certainly important, but if you connect with the right partners the opportunities are enormous.
If you can expose Insurance as an API, you are effectively making your entire product–and the business processes behind it–available to the outside world to use. It is a foreign concept to many insurance companies at this point, yet it is widely understood and used in many other industries. Because of it, you can start to embed insurance throughout all kinds of consumer touch points and sell through all kinds of new channels ranging from software applications to supply chain distribution partnerships.
Insurance as an API allows third parties to use their unique data to deliver quotes within their own customer experience, and even provide an integrated buying experience. (This is more commonly known as “embedded insurance”) It allows coverage choices to be tailored based on the unique knowledge of the customer, who they are, and their risks.
Insurance as an API allows the servicing of a policy–including claims and billing–to start to use modern customer service tools: conversational AI, advanced call center systems, and marketing automation tools. This results in lower expenses, happier customers, and higher retention.
Insurance as an API allows for adjacent types of products to be easily incorporated into the customer experience. From specialized risk improvement to premium financing, the insurance “package” becomes more useful, easier to consume, and becomes more accessible to a wider range of customers.
But perhaps most importantly of all, Insurance as an API provides exponential speed. By packaging the product within easy-to-use API’s, companies are able to lean on partners and not exclusively on their own internal ability to craft the best customer experience and reach the entire market. Again, this is perhaps a foreign concept to most insurance companies, yet history has generally proven this to be a smart approach, and the first movers are benefiting from many opportunities not available to others.
All of these things are not guesses–these are the same dynamics that have played out over and over in different areas. When Amazon launched AWS, for example, the entire hosting and development industries saw these benefits, and the entire industry had to react. We’re now in the process of experiencing an industry-wide shift to ensure that all business processes are supported by APIs, and easy to consume by whichever partners need to use them. The ability to play in this arena will determine who wins and loses for the next several decades.