It is said that Emperor Nero, eyes gleaming with the distant fires of his homeland, was playing the fiddle whilst Rome burned. Are insurers, tinkering with their existing products, doing much the same? The current fire raging in the industry emanates from players who are responding effectively to changing customer needs within their product set.

Key Change Influencers

  • Connected Technology – there will be 24bn connected devices by 2020 [1].
  • Sharing Economy – the UK Sharing Economy is expected to grow to £9bn by 2025 [2].
  • Emerging Risks – new risks emanating from cyber, self-driving cars, aerial drones  and social media.
  • Customer Expectations – there is a large gap between retail and insurance customer experience (see Grant Thornton’s Customer Loyalty and Experience Index) [3].

Our analysis shows that successful market participants have capitalised on these changes by making their products more:

1. Interactive

2. Relevant

3. Timely

4. Commercial (addressed in my previous blog)

More Interactive


Some firms are making extensive use of data from connected devices to create interactive experiences and tailored products (see Fit Sense and Sureify, as two examples). This trend is prevalent in the health insurance sector where 80% of insurance professionals believe connected technology will have a significant disruptive impact [4].

Tangible products

Many insurers are increasing their interactions with customers by offering tangible products that complement the intangible insurance (usually items that help reduce risk). We are seeing this trend across various lines of business, the trick will be merging these experiences into one seamless customer interaction.

More Relevant

‘Customer pull’ rather than ‘product push’

InsurTech firms like Fabric are emerging to meet the holistic financial needs of specific customer segments. Although set-up as a life insurer, they understand that the financial needs of parents (their target segment) extend beyond insurance into other areas, such as savings [5].

Better targeted

Firms such as Bought By Many are beginning to create unique insurance products based on how customers define themselves. Interestingly in this case, reinsurance capital is serving some niche customer segments where insurers have been too slow to respond [6].

Responding to societal trends

Other start-ups like Cuvva are responding to emerging societal trends. Cuvva spotted that increasing traffic congestion is causing 6m vehicles to sit idle and reacted by developing products with on-demand road risks cover [7].

Emerging risks

New technologies and their various applications present many product innovation opportunities. However, as many insurers learned from introducing cyber cover, existence of risk does not automatically increase product sales. Only now are we seeing double-digit penetration of cyber in the small business segment, for example [8].

More Timely

Small is beautiful

There has been an increase in insurance plug-ins to retail customer journeys (like Simplesurance), providing timely options for consumers to buy micro-insurance at point of sale, often for very little money.


There has been a proliferation in start-ups across the life and general insurance sector where simple app-based quote journeys incorporate on-demand cover functionality (see Trov, for example).


Whilst 64% of insurance professionals believe that digital disruption will significantly affect their product design/offering in the next 5 years [4], the general response to this threat has so far been underwhelming.

There is, however, time to fight the fire. Indeed, despite the damage caused, Nero ended up building his imperial palace on the land cleared by the great fire. Is there to be a similar golden opportunity for the insurer who can create interactive, relevant, timely and commercial products/experiences?


[1] Business Insider (2016)

[2] CBI (2017)

[3] Grant Thornton Customer Loyalty and Experience Index

[4] Willis Towers Watson (2017) 

[5] Business Insider (2017) 

[6] Financial Times (2017) 

[7] Fleet Point (2017)

[8] Global Data (2017)