By Juana Francisca Llano
Vice President of Insurance of Suramericana
Coverages tailored to each person and company; the premiums that change their value due to the behavior of the client against the risk; policies that protect beyond national borders; flexible and variable solutions in their validity; less fragmentation of insurance; applications that allow in real time "turn on" or "turn off" the protection from the cell phone; digital channels that in seconds make it easier to subscribe to a temporary policy; greater customization in the services associated with insurance and less focus on compensation.
These are some specific examples of the minimum that requires incorporating the insurance industry, sooner rather than later, into their solutions portfolios and channels, if it wants to remain current and relevant in Colombia, Latin America and the world.
Traditionally, insurers have had a more reactive response to different types of risk. Their solutions arise after economic activities are developed, changes in people's habits are evident and risks come to the door of families and companies, which urgently need tools to manage their uncertainties.
There is a latent temptation to think that the future of insurance markets depends only on the use of technology and the consequent digitization of accesses, channels, subscriptions and assistance. However, first we must understand that the road begins by focusing on clearly identifying what people want, feel and need, beyond being consumers, in the present and future.
To the extent that this industry accompanies and potentiates the transformations of societies, science and technology, and the environment, facilitates its adaptation and incorporates capabilities, in the face of a constantly changing environment, it is that it will continue to have value as an actor of development.
So the future for the industry lies in the understanding of the megatrends and trends that transform people and companies, beyond the way we have conceived the types of insurance that support the business. To be competitive and sustainable, it is no longer enough to characterize the consumer; It is necessary, more and more, to understand who the person is, how the company works, what reasons are behind the acquisition of a product or service and what are the motivations that determine their needs and preferences.
It is no longer about what, but what for. In order not to become a commodity industry, you must be where, when and how people and companies want. It is not enough to sign a policy, you have to offer solutions. Selling insurance for vehicles is the minimum, we must ensure and enhance mobility in all its media. The minimum is to protect the assets of the company, we must respond to trends and risks that affect their competitiveness. In this understanding, the north of our industry is to deliver real capabilities, that is, people and companies have the opportunity to optimize their opportunities and fully recover from adverse events.
That is why from SURA we have developed Trends and Risks Management (GTR) over the last three years, a way of managing that seeks to be a proactive response to identify opportunities and risks, based on a structured vision of the environment. With the accumulated experience, it is clear that the frontiers of the future role of the insurance industry must be expanded, in order to deliver well-being and competitiveness to people and companies.
Solutions and channels horizon
Consequently, the north of the sector is gaining speed of response to emerging risks and change paradigms: it is not about developing solutions about what was identified that has already happened, but what happens and will happen. It is about making a transition from the past to the future.
The reading of trends prepares us to deliver solutions and capabilities to the market that will be fine-tuned, if they respond to what people require. For example, the current environment shows us that we must be preparing better solutions in determining fields in the lives of people and companies such as mobility, connectivity, healthy living and competitiveness.
The future of the industry lies in the development of accesses that have affinity and relevance in their DNA. Therefore, to understand the current demographic changes and to come, to develop what we have called a "multidimensional segmentation", are essential aspects of the roadmap to be more relevant and leave the traditional adaptation of insurance and its distribution by socioeconomic strata : it is no longer a matter of "dressing" all clients with the same insurance, but it is in accordance with the particular reality of each one.
This certainty will allow to increase the low penetration of the insurance market. Measured in value of premiums, to 2017 it was 2.85% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Colombia, far from the Latin American average (3.2%) and, even more, of 9% of the countries that make up the Organization for Cooperation and Development Economic (OCDE).
But these indicators are lower, when only the penetration of voluntary insurance is accounted for. Particularly, the biggest challenge is to deliver inclusive insurance that generates value and is a real protection for individuals, families and companies. The goal is to be relevant.
For this reason, the development of channels for the different segments is definitive for the industry to expand with a greater sense of inclusion, and of course, taking advantage of digital transformation and technology as enablers to add new and better channels of access to more people and Business.
Finally, the current and future development of the insurance industry will depend on the capacity of the industry to be relevant, to deliver solutions and enhance capacities, beyond the regulatory environment, particularly in Colombia and Latin America.
Therefore, we must understand and respond in a timely manner to the evolution of risks, trends, new players in the sector, the emergence of new channels and those signals that are decisive for the adequate financing of uncertainty in a world of vertiginous changes. For all the above, without a doubt, the future is today for the insurance industry.