InsurTech is an epic climb: Are you a contender?

by Bret Stone on June 27, 2017


“If you try to win, you might lose, but if you don't try to win,
you lose for sure!” -Jens Voigt

Alpe d’Huez is a legendary climb, world-renown by cyclists. A relentless 8.5 miles with 21 hairpin bends and 8.1 percent gradient, it’s been a stage that can make or break the Tour de France for riders. But, it’s not included in every Tour. This epic climb only comes once in awhile. And, what’s important about it, is the decisiveness of Alpe d’Huez as a stage in determining the overall leaders.

Historically, the winner of the entire Tour de France (spanning  21 stages, 23 days and 2,200 miles) has often been in the yellow leader jersey following the Alpe d'Huez stage. Meaning: How riders compete on this one stage is critical in determining the outcome of the entire race. Like Alpe d’Huez, InsurTech (aka digital transformation, modernization) is an epic climb. How insurers decide to compete now will determine their future success. What works today isn’t guaranteed to work tomorrow.


What Alpe d’Huez is to cyclists, InsurTech is to insurers.
Right now, insurers are faced with an epic climb: InsurTech. A new breed of insurance technology has changed the game and “disrupted” an industry that’s been largely status quo. A very large bump has appeared in the road—more like a mountain, making it more critical than ever to, as former Chubb Chief Innovation Officer and now SVP and Underwriting Transformation Leader at QBE North America, Jon Bidwell put it, see over the horizon.” However, to see beyond the horizon, you first must climb to the top.


“When we look back at today, the winners and losers will be defined by those that did and did not embrace an InsurTech digital implementation strategy.” -Insurance Thought Leadership, “Death of Core Systems”

The only way to compete is with technology that evens the playing field.
Over the past 110-plus years, the Tour de France has gone from 40-pound, fixed-gear road bikes (and no helmets!), to sub 15-pound, carbon bikes and electronic drivetrains. Innovation, technology and engineering has evolved the sport of cycling. Think about it: If the 22 teams that compete in the Tour didn’t progress with some equality in the equipment they employ, as well as collaborative sportsmanship, there would be a very large gap on the playing field. It would be abundantly clear who’s still pedaling 40-pound bikes up Alpe d’Huez.

InsurTech is a game changer. What worked in the past, will not work in the future. Insurance technology and innovation is undoubtedly moving at race pace. And, what’s “good enough” for now, will likely be a 40-pound bike in five years from now.

From Internet of Things (IOT) to vehicle telematics, and especially, advanced data and analytics—which is fast becoming a key competitive differentiator—InsurTech presents the opportunity to evolve and compete. But, if we don’t get on the bike and climb, there’s no possibility of winning. No possibility of moving the industry forward. With the right partner, or, in true Tour de France fashion, “domestique,” insurers can create a slipstream that accelerates the InsurTech climb. And, it won’t be long before we start seeing players screaming down the backside—trying to catch the next horizon. 


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Topics: Underwriting, Analytics, Data visualization, technology innovation, insurtech, insurance technology

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