Not long ago InsureTech and Insurance software as a service (SAAS) companies ballooned in value more than the tech bubble stock valuations of 1999. Companies like Zenefits raised funds and spiked interest of venture capitalists willing to throw insane money at any startup willing to take on the archaic insurance industry. While our industry needs help catching up to the technology around us, one thing is certain, the professional insurance agent cannot be replaced. Noticed how I said PROFESSIONAL. There are plenty of basic insurance products where agents are currently being replaced and will continue to be replaced.
Zenefits is a great idea in theory.... Offer free software that solves a problem (human resources administration) then take over the customer's employee benefits insurance via a broker of record letter in order to integrate into the software and make money in the form of carrier commissions. That's better that a great idea, it's brilliant. The problem is that health insurance and employee benefits require skilled and experienced insurance professionals... **Crickets**
It didn't take long for Zenefits to suffer the consequences of being a start-up with new employees playing in a insurance arena with often more knowledgable buyers than it's employees. Zenefits has since been forced to change taking on an employee benefits partner that specializes in this complicated market.
There have been other InsureTech start-ups trying to break into the property & casualty insurance market. Many are focusing small commercial insurance. Much like these tech companies have taken market share in personal insurance, they see huge opportunity to provide business insurance to sole proprietors and other small businesses that don't need complicated coverage or a trusted advisor to explain coverage to them. We are going to continue to see this trend well into the future, but time will weed out the opportunist from the true innovators.
Am I worried about InsureTech's affect on the insurance industry...? No. I think the benefits are far greater than the downsides. The smart InsureTech companies will try to partner with the savvy trusted agencies and carriers to provide added services to customers. Just look at the Google Trends three year graph for "InsureTech". Interest has died down since the Zenefits scandal and InsureTech Connect 2017. I'm sure interest will pick back up, but valuations by investors will be more down to Earth than to the Moon since Silicon Valley already learned that insurance unicorns don't exist.
Should you be worried about InsureTech? Maybe. If you are the owner of an agency and not taking steps to advance your business and are reactive to change rather than proactive, you should be frightened. If you are an employee of an agency that is not preparing to change, you should be tuning up your resume. If you think this is just all hype, that's cool, just keep doing what you're doing. The storm is coming whether you are prepared or not.
If you want to do something exciting together LET'S DO IT! I'm no unicorn, but I can help you prepare for change.