Life companies and advisers should embrace tech start-ups as potential partners, not see them automatically as threats, Zurich Life’s head of retail has said.
Peter Hamilton said 2016 has been a year of technological change in the protection world.
The last 12 months have seen initiatives such as ‘Cover Me Now’ from Synaptic Software, designed to streamline protection quotations, and ‘Underwrite Me’ from Pacific Life Re, which provides an underwritten multi-insurer quote comparison service for advisers.
Developments in e-signatures have also allowed customers to provide immediate consent for their GP to share their medical data, meaning consent is always nearly received the same day.
Such innovations are designed to “remove friction from the customer journey”, Mr Hamilton said, not push out other players in the sector.
“The bigger challenge is changing public perceptions and behaviours, so that they expect claims to be paid, they trust us with their data and expect us to use it to craft better, bespoke propositions and communications for them,” he said.
“We need technology with a human touch, and while there are plenty of challenges, the reputational one may be tougher than the rest.”
Widely lauded as a great success, Mr Hamilton highlighted the protection industry-led Seven Families initiative, which drew to a close this summer, as having gone a long way to improve the protection industry’s image.
The campaign stepped in to support seven families dealing with the financial impact of long-term illness or disability as if they had bought income protection, by providing a tax-free income for one year.
Mr Hamilton hinted to FTAdviser that the campaign may be restarted next year.
As a company, he said Zurich will use 2017 to push for greater adoption of electronic GP reports, and to promote as widely as possible the benefits of protection.