Insurance, innovation and behaviorial evolution

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A conjunction of elements led me to reflect lately on the link between insurance, innovation and behavioral evolution! It is an opportunity to give you my point of view on the issue.

Insurance is often considered reactive. Indeed, it reacts to events called claims to compensate for the residual loss.

Campaigns, sometimes famous (I think about road safety), are intended to transform behavior upstream to reduce downstream losses. For the insurer, it is an initial investment that finds its ROI in reducing the indemnification. We are here in a model in which the insurer is a preventer and no longer just a compensator.

However, a lot of debate has taken place in recent years to give the insurer a more proactive societal role upstream to reduce risks and thus change behavior. The embedded telematics (with Pay-How-You-Drive offers for example) has often been seen as an incentive for good practice: if you drive better, I make you pay less. Ditto for connected bracelets of health: if you play sports, you will have a reduction.

However, we note that these approaches do not always work or that they are not effective. However, do not we say “chase the natural will come back at a gallop”? The challenge is therefore twofold:

  • Find new ways to influence behavior.
  • Adjust offers to better stick to individual behaviors rather than standardizing responses.

Nudges at the service of behavioral change


It will probably not have escaped you that the last Nobel Prize in economics (2017 ) was awarded to research on the so-called behavioral economy. To learn more, read here . This is also called benevolent manipulation.

insurance innovation and behavioral evolution
Cover page of the book Guide to Behavioral Economics, free download here . Thanks to Yuri for giving me the paper book.

I will not attempt here to detail fully the possibilities offered for insurance, because it deserves to think seriously about it. Anyway, I invite you to read the very good article from one of my competitors on the issue. Here is the example cited:

For some American motor insurances, the declaration of the mileage achieved in the year (n) conditions the premium for the following year (n + 1). The average rate of under declaration is estimated at 15% compared to the Km actually made. A Nudge has been tested to try to improve the statements. Instead of signing the declaration on honor at the end of the document, the researchers put it on the heading of the document, before the declaration. This simple change results in a 10% increase in the number of Km declared, a gain for the insurer of $ 48 per insured. The simple reorganization of the structure of the document, the architecture of choice, makes it possible to modify the behavior of the insured and thus to increase the income.

Some examples of nudges for insurance

Here are some examples of nudges that are or could be relevant to insurance depending on the objectives:

  • Reducing risks: The incentive to drive better.
    • The solution implemented by Liberty Mutual and relayed here consists of a mixture of gamification and information to drivers. Thanks to embedded telematics, the solution allows everyone to consult their driving information and to consider how to drive better and therefore how to reduce their premium, the discount rate being updated live every day for 3 months before being fixed.
    • By extending the exercise outside the pure scope of intervention of the insurer, we can note that tracing, on the road, shorter white stripes gives the impression of going faster and encourages you to slow down without even realizing it.
  • The incentive to subscribe:
    • A study relayed in the book above (London Economics and YouGov in 2013 for the FCA) showed the impact of the presentation of the insurance offer in parallel with another product. This is the case for example when buying the insurance when buying a mobile or cancellation insurance.

 assurance innovation and behavioral evolution

Beyond the questionable ethical aspect, this shows the influence of the distribution strategy on the choices of insured.

  • The choice of priorities: Last-mile problems (read for it this article and that one)
    • Segmenting the populations can be done according to a probability of underwriting. By identifying 3 segments (low, medium and high effort) using artificial intelligence, we can then determine who has the strongest probability of traveling the last mile to the subscription. These populations, for which the effort is small, will be treated differently and maybe receive, when the time comes, a little nudge! This can be a text message, a small message on the screen or a welcome email when giving the little extra that will be enough to convince them.

I will come back to these questions later with other detailed use cases to imagine more precisely how to use these methods.

Adjust offers

Most of the current offers are very standardized. They take into account a need considered identical for all insureds. At the time of individualization, why could not we consider adapting the coverage more finely according to the real risks of the insured. I can already hear the reactions: “This is the essence of our job”, “We already do it”, the contracts offer options and choices of levels to ensure according to his needs. “Very good, but in truth, can one think otherwise?

The Wilov speech is very interesting on this point. Most auto insured drivers drive less than 50 days a year. Yet they are covered full time. By inventing the “Pay-When-You-Drive”, their starting premise is to charge drivers only when they drive! The price is not necessarily much lower, however, the feeling of the insured is much better (provided that the user experience is the appointment of course!).

The approach of Inspeer goes in a similar direction. Starting from the premise that changing the behavior is complicated, Emmanuelle Mury and her team are working on the notion of affinity groups that go around the use. Clearly, they identify similar behaviors, and create the corresponding supply. I will come back to this in a dedicated article!

In short, the notion of supply is still too much seen today as unique, identical for all. Indeed, IT systems did not allow to easily and quickly deploy variants and customization, or the illusion of personalization was at the marketing level. It’s time to move to a higher level!


And you what do you think? When do we start to revamp your offers?