A Post-Pandemic Roadmap for Insurers: 3 Timeless Values, 1 Path Forward

Thought Leadership

By Wells Stringham | July 29, 2021
An old couple walking hand in hand

As the post-pandemic world begins to take shape, the insurance industry finds itself navigating a new, uncomfortable space. But even as these players straddle the gap between digital and in-person customer expectations, they’re finding ways to bridge these two experiences into one unified journey.

After all, insurance has always provided stability in times of rapid change. But in order to keep up, today’s legacy insurance companies need to keep pace with the digital race set by InsurTech start-ups and progressive insurers.

How can they do this? By staying true to the timeless values behind our longstanding reliance on insurance, tailored for the post-pandemic era: meeting the customer where they are, building trust through accessibility, and doing it all with a personalized touch.

Value #1: Meet customers where they are

For any consumer-facing product, the COVID-19 pandemic is synonymous with accelerated digital adoption. But with the world reopening, will we return to the more familiar analog model of things? The research shows that the answer to this question is a resounding no.

Digital adoption has grown by 20% globally over the past four years. And the insurance industry isn’t exempt from this need to meet their customers where they want to interact — online. InsurTechs are new, digital-focused companies racing to fill this niche. This ranges from chatbots that provide service in seconds, IoT integrations designed to keep homes safe, and app-based health care insurance.

Apply Digital assisted PURE Insurance to meet their customers in the digital space by creating a concierge-style app experience fit for their exclusive roster of high net worth clients. They needed a product that represented this exclusive brand and connected customers with billing, claims, and policy info quickly and securely. We built an app tailored for ease of use and sophisticated design. At the time of publication, the app has a 4.5-star rating on the iOS App Store.

Value #2: Build trust through accessibility

Insurance is a universal need — but are the digital products that support insurance customers truly built with everyone in mind?

Differently-abled consumers make up a global population of 1.85 billion people globally outnumbering the population of China. In the USA alone, this demographic represents the 3rd largest consumer group, representing 78% of household decision-makers, and spanning a $1 billion market segment.

But somehow when it comes time to designing digital user experiences, digital accessibility is often neglected. Accessibility isn’t about bonus points. It is the starting point, the manifestation of insurers’ commitment to building trust through accessibility carried into the digital era. It’s also the law in many places, including Canada, the US, and China. So how do you design for accessibility?

The main tenets of accessible design are found in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). These detailed recommendations include design suggestions for contrasting colors, text style and sizing, and strategic content orientation. All functions should be available from a keyboard, multimedia functions should feature adjustable timers, and reauthentication should be limited.

And that’s just scratching the surface. Recently, our team assisted a pharmaceutical start-up to build a digital ecosystem from the ground up with accessibility in mind. To ensure accessible digital and content design across functions, we validated our work with stringent compatibility testing covering all alternative browsing methods. This included (but wasn’t limited to) mouse-less browsing, switch systems, and text to speech.

Accessibility isn’t just important in the UX and UI design phases. It dictates how you code, present content, and run QA testing. The end result is a product that isn’t just welcoming to those with different abilities, but one that creates a superior experience for all of your users.

Key Considerations for Accessible Product Design. Consider these factors for accessible design at every stage of a product's development. In column 1: User Experience Design (UX): User research with audiences of every ability to determine accessibility needs across and between groups, wireframes designed to prioritize accessible feature components, labeling and alternative state tagging, parallel experiences built to improve specialized accessible user journeys. Column 2: User Interface Design (UI): Content strategy to optimized features for accessibility, consistently reproduced experiences and design features, high contrast color and blocking, font size and selection, adjustable timers and captions for multimedia materials. Column 3: Product Build: Run both automated and manual testing to ensure that structure, code, and features include accessibility attributes, ensure code is clean and robust enough across every platform, conduct QA using different systems and tools to screen for barriers to accessibility, consider screen reading, page zoom, and text to speech.

Key Considerations for Accessible Digital Product Design

Value #3: Personalize the experience

For most people, the days of a personal relationship with a neighborhood insurance broker are long past. But the customer’s expectation of that sort of personalized service from an insurer is still just as present.

Luckily, the best tools to provide customers with that individualized experience thrive at the intersection of digital and in-person interactions. AI technology opens up the door to exceptionally fast and organized data processing, resulting in actionable insights for personalized customer experiences.

For example, AI-enabled machine learning technology can accelerate the work of actuaries by processing hundreds of thousands of data points in seconds to make more informed predictions. This translates to smarter estimates, tailored policies, and personalized service options based on a customer’s specific needs and lifestyles. This predictive power also enables more ethical policy pricing, increasing freedom of product choice while reducing the cost for customers who present a lower claim risk.

One example of AI-driven personalization is our work with a Canadian auto insurance provider. Our market research showed that the public often struggles to discern which plans would best fit their needs. So we harnessed AI to simplify the product recommendation process by designing a neural network-driven predictive model catered to customers based on their unique needs and attributes. The result was a more customized, personal customer experience.

A continued legacy

Meeting customers at home, at work, in their car, and wherever they are straight from a mobile app. Universally accessible digital experiences designed with everyone in mind. And a personal touch delivered with 21st-century technology.

These all represent the continued legacy of the core values insurance customers have relied on for centuries, enabled by smart, reactive, and sophisticated digital customer experiences. They bridge customer expectations for digital and in-person experiences, while enabling insurers to do more, reach further, steward relationships, and make new connections across the emerging post-pandemic playing field.

It’s pretty exciting stuff — and a journey that starts by considering the first step. For insights and guidance on digitizing your insurance platform, please contact us today at hello@applydigital.com.

Co-Written by Liz Goode.