La Mobiliere is a Swiss cooperative insurance company, well known for its branding, offering insurance solutions for individuals and enterprises.
Z Digital Agency manager, Timothee Bardet, wanted to interview Michel Gicot, member of the Board of Directors and head of the individual life insurance solutions department, because the InsurTech industry is directly concerned by the digital transformation, and La Mobiliere has been deeply involved with innovations over the past years.
The insurance market in Switzerland is quite traditional from a structural and client point of view. It is getting hybrid, but not fully digital yet. The needs are evolving slowly and the size of the market prevented any radical shift so far.
The risk for a “booking.com” disruption, like what happened to the hotel industry, is lower because of heavy regulations, entry barriers due to the requirement for large amount of capital and a lack of appetite from the clientele for deep changes. Indeed Swiss clients want an integrated insurance covering all risks at once.
However there is always the risk of an external player (outside from the insurance world) entering the competition, focusing on one of the pain points of the value chain, and climbing up the value chain later.
The second trend is the use of technology to simplify internal processes and improve the customer experience. The back office work is getting reduced to focus more on higher value added.
However the costs are not really decreasing because the investment in technology and qualified staff for maintenance is quite similar to the cost reduction coming from the automated back-office tasks.
La Mobiliere started covering new types of risks, like cyber-risks, including new services as well to its clients. Indeed covering the financial risk of a loss of data or reputation for instance is only a first step, but also offering the recovery services is key for the customer experience.
Regarding the pricing of such new offers, it is a bit terra incognita. It was first developed for companies and it is now getting released for private individuals.
“The only risk that we do not cover for companies is the risk of innovating or not innovating enough.”
Therefore we created a rapid prototyping facility in Thounes in 2014, where enterprises can spend two days prototyping their innovations, with the help of coaches. The cost of catering and coaching is supported by the client companies, but the facility itself is an investment from La Mobiliere for the community.
Several initiatives are led by the insurance company:
- Innovation tools
- Preventing against natural risks, by partly funding some infrastructures in sensitive areas (building protection against floods for instance in an area that was previously badly hit, with a successful outcome during the latest floods)
- Several university chairs are held by the cooperative in Zürich, Bern and Lausanne (in weather forecasts or how to make life better in a neighborhood for instance) to bring their data and expertise.
Unfortunately the data collected by the company are signals happening later than actual market data or unemployment rates for instance. However invalidity or absenteeism rates collected by La Mobiliere provide a deeper look some months after the trend.
Actuaries could be considered as the pioneer of AI predictive algorithms. Today actuaries, data scientist and physicists are merging into team to make more sense from data. The new generation seems more and more eager to invent new business models and applications to data sets.
There is a massive potential for value added services bringing easier decision making capacities for managers. Simplification and better understanding of data are key for managers of client companies to make impactful decisions.
La Mobiliere is currently experimenting new concepts and new use of data.
Over the past 4 years La Mobiliere has confirmed a trend: using digital and analog channels with the same value propositions and pricing. A contract booked online is the same price as a contract booked through a client advisor.
At the user level, digital dashboards summarizing all insurance policies currently contracted have been released. Full digital signature is on its way to offer paperless services and reduce the back office intervention.
But in the near future a user should be able to take a picture of his furniture for instance, upload it so as to calculate its residual value and tailor the right contract for him, using algorithms and virtual reality.
In case of a disaster nonetheless phone calls are still the most important communication mean, by far. A direct upload to a mobile application of the disaster pictures could be offered in the future, as a well their localization.
Communication is currently using a channel mix of emails, SMS and paper sometimes.
But physical advisors remain key, since 95% of contracts are currently contracted through them.
It is a good problem to have, but with very good results over the past decade, La Mobiliere has to keep confirming its growth every year, which is a challenge.
Regarding personal investment and insurance contracts, low interest rates in Switzerland have made the financial structuration a real challenge to produce stable and positive returns.
All insurance companies have also troubles to hire qualified profiles.
As for some other industry leaders we interviewed: innovation, simplification, recruitment and new business models are some of the critical challenges in their digital transformation.