Aluance Digital is in Las Vegas this week for ITC 2018, the world’s biggest insurtech gathering. Here’s what’s catching our attention.

Thousands of attendees and hundreds of speakers and exhibitors are gathering at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this week for the 2018 edition of InsureTech Connect. Billed as “the world’s largest gathering of insurance leaders and innovators,” the conference will cover a breadth of topics, with views from insurtech startups and insurance industry leaders, and plenty of innovative ideas.

Aluance will be there too. With so much to take in, here are some of the topics that have caught our attention.

Incumbents and startups: conflict or collaboration?

At the dawn of insurtech, the talk seemed to be about how startups would topple long-standing industry giants. Some insurtechs have produced their own rival products to traditional insurance, but increasingly, we’re seeing startups and incumbents seeking out ways to work together.

Tony Kuczinski sees the industry building alliances around the shared creation of value through common purpose and partnership-driven relationships. He’ll be discussing how this is playing out at MunichRe.

While the fascinations of today and promises of tomorrow are the focus of young insurtechs, industry incumbents represent centuries-old success stories. Inga Beale, the first female CEO of Lloyd’s of London, sits at a cusp of sorts in the 332-year-old journey of this institution. During a fireside chat, she will talk about adapting to a changing global risk landscape and embracing innovation through the recently launched Lloyd’s Labs.

Unpacking cyber risk

Cybersecurity presents a new risk but also new opportunity for incumbents and insurtechs alike. The relentless shift to digital is driving growth, but the nature of cyber risk and how to cover it is difficult to unravel.

We’re looking forward to Charles Birnbaum of Bessemer Venture Partners leading an able panel that will attempt to do just that. We’ll be watching for what approaches the industry is taking to quantify cyber risk and balance prevention and compensation.

Some predict insurance is shifting towards helping customers reduce risk, offering services such as cybersecurity monitoring, for example. Telematics, sensors and the growth of IoT are enabling such a shift. How will these and other technologies upend the insurance value chain?

Sizing up disruption

EY’s Ed Majkowski will lead a panel tackling the topic of disruption. Comparing the shift in today’s insurance landscape to the past realization that the world is not flat, which radically redefined economies and societies, the panel will explore how the business of pricing risk and helping customers is fundamentally evolving because of digital.

Traditionally a paper-heavy industry, some insurance companies are using robotic process automation to speed document processing, and exploring AI to mine data streams for intelligence. Others are using big data to make it easier for customers to sign up, and to improve underwriting at the same time. As efficiencies improve, employees have time to focus on other tasks and customers enjoy a better experience.

In insurance, just as in other sectors, the word “disruption” evokes a mix of consternation, coveting and confusion. The factors and consequences of disruption are not well understood, says Rick Chavez of Oliver Wyman, who will frame the risk of disruption for the insurance industry.

Meanwhile, Sabine VanderLinden of Startupbootcamp InsurTech will lead a panel discussion on how insurance can embrace disruption in its organizational cultures. Another panel, moderated by the University of Connecticut’s Michelle Cote, looks at how insurance companies can keep up with disruptive forces driven by today’s “smart consumer”.

Inclusive growth and financial sustainability

In our view, a welcome outcome of digital disruption is the opening of new benefits to those who were previously left out. An estimated 1.7 billion people around the world are unbanked, uninsured and underserved by the financial industry. Alex Lazarow of Cathay Innovation will moderate a discussion on the potential of digital to make insurance more accessible. We are excited observers of the inroads that insurtech is making on the African continent.

Set against the long history of insurance, insurtech excitement can feel myopic. Despite being essential to its sustainability, the financial underpinnings of insurance are often left out of the conversation. That’s why we’re looking forward to Blackrock’s Michael McRaith leading a discussion on the money side of insurance and the role of financial innovation in the long-term future of the rapidly changing insurance landscape.

Meet with Aluance

Our founder and Chief Digital Strategist, Ayaz Somani, will be attending presentations and meeting with fellow conference attendees during the networking sessions. If you want to discuss insurtech, digital strategy and how Aluance can work with your organization, reach out and Ayaz will be happy to speak with you.

See you in Vegas!