Digital disruption in insurance: Cutting through the noise

Facing digital reality Regulation, product complexity, and insurers’ large balance sheets have kept digital attackers from insurers’ gates. That is changing, but in ways incumbents should embrace. They can flourish in the digital age—if they move swiftly and decisively.

Digital technology destroys value. That might sound counterintuitive given the extent to which it can make business systems more efficient—and companies are urged to embrace its many possibilities. Yet new McKinsey research shows that although digital technology propels some companies to become clear market winners, for many more its impact depletes corporate earnings and the overall value of an industry.1 Consumers, not companies, are often the ultimate winners. So it is likely to be in insurance. For a long time, the traditional insurance business model has proved to be remarkably resilient. But it too is beginning to feel the digital effect. It is changing how products and services are delivered, and increasingly it will change the nature of those products and services and even the business model itself. We firmly believe that opportunities abound for incumbent insurance companies in this new world. But they will not be evenly shared. Those companies that move swiftly and decisively are likely to be those that flourish. Those that do not will find it increasingly challenging to generate attractive returns. A triple prize: Satisfied customers, lower costs, higher growth The goal must be to meet customers’ expectations, which have been transformed by digital technology. Customers want simplicity—one-click shopping, for example.

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