Already half of the year 2009 has passed. Insurance companies are signing new contracts, extending existing ones and indemnifying losses. However, the economic conditions don't make market participants optimistic. The atmosphere of escalating danger discourages potential customers from buying insurance policies. On the other hand, insurance mechanisms garner more attention when the future of economy is unknown. Both crisis and natural disasters remind companies and people about the dangers and necessity of risk management; including, in particular, insurance protection.
During the first half of 2008, the increase of acquisition costs was already lower than the increase of the amount of premiums collected. Uncertainty makes insurers hesitate and this is the reason for the reduction of IT investments and concentration on necessary expenditure. Insurance companies which have managed to maintain a strong financial position and have accumulated money early, now have an opportunity to distance themselves from the competition. Beside difficult economic conditions, we predict that IT investments in the insurance market in 2009 will remain (mainly because of external conditions) at the same level as they were in the previous year. Our clients are interested in a significant reduction in employment and administrative costs. Comarch, as a supplier working closely with leading insurance companies, has an offer for 2009 which enables reducing costs and optimizing business processes.
The customer at the heart of
Under these conditions where attracting new customers may prove difficult, we predict increased interest in customer service expenditure. Defining and selecting appropriate segments of customers is more important. Companies must ensure an appropriate offer as well as support in order to provide added value and increase the loyalty of their customers. We are witnessing increasing demand for all tools which ensure better service to policyholders and the insurers. As a result, we have noticed a great amount of interest in our multi-channel service platform for insurance called CAFE.
As a long-term supplier of IT solutions for banking, we see that the majority of banks conduct customer service in the 'customer centric' model. We expect a similar trend among insurers who are preparing to provide customer service not only related to the execution of its policies, but instead treating each separately. We see the involvement of insurance companies in projects related to cleaning and organizing data as well as building a central customer database. More and more insurance companies run CRM initiatives, including those based on specific analytical tools.
These conclusions are also based on the strategies formulated by the leading players in the insurance industry.
Automating + optimizing
Another trend related to both the economic situation and the availability of appropriate information technology is automation. At present, our company continues to initiate further projects aimed at automating and optimizing key business processes related to customer service, indemnifying losses, claims handling and billing.
There is a growing interest in direct insurance, which means not only the implementation of an IT solution enabling a company to sell insurance over the Internet and through a Contact Center, but above all, direct access to information on client insurance contracts with the ability to perform selected operations (the so-called insurance e-account).
Solvency II – risk control
Although economic conditions may once again postpone the adoption of the Solvency II directive, insurance companies have already begun preparatory actions. The scope of work includes the design and building of data warehouse systems, increasing the importance of risk management, the implementation of fraud detection mechanisms as well as enhanced responsibility and control over resources.
Administration – infrastructure
An important direction is the tendency to organize processes in insurers’ own IT departments, for example through the implementation of ITIL practices. Insurance companies will also increasingly reach for outsourcing in each area where it will prove more effective than utilizing their own resources. Hence, interest in our Data Center services continues to increase. Virtualization will provide insurers with the possibility to use the existing hardware resources of the company’s IT environment in a more effective way.
One of the most interesting trends is the growing need for the deployment of solutions to deal with health insurance. Despite the legal changes, these kinds of IT systems are gradually assuming a greater importance and are arousing interest. We believe that attention should be paid to such innovative utilities like the electronic medical databases (eg. iMed24, Google Health), which enables taking care of a patient's health in a modern way via the Internet. Another interesting trend is the launch of EBPP services. This IT solution enables a company to deliver e-invoices to the banking system of client and allows him to make a payment using "one-click" (eg. iFin24, BILIX).