Last year was an unusual one for every industry, and not least insurance. Even if carriers weren’t dealing with all the disruptions of the pandemic, they’d still have faced historic levels of natural disasters and generational economic shifts throwing their business into flux.

It should come as little surprise, then, that insurance executives are looking at their business in new ways.

More than 150 insurance executives shared their perspective on post-pandemic challenges with IBM’s Institute for Business Value, part of the institute’s latest survey of thousands of C-suite and public sector leaders. What emerged was a cohort of carriers valuing agility, innovation and workers like never. Here’s some key findings.

More agile insurers: 56% of insurance executives ranked agility and flexibility in their operations as a top priority

Over the next two to three years, the insurance executives surveyed placed the ability to act decisively ahead of such considerations as improving data transparency, securing data systems, and establishing greater accountability.

Given all the disruption going on in financial services—even before COVID-19—this need for agility makes perfect sense. Carriers must be adaptable enough to take advantage of technology going forward to deliver on growing and diffuse client needs. Especially as policyholders have moved online, insurers need to offer them a more engaging experience in their applications, claims, sites, and digital services

As insurers navigate a rapidly changing market, agility will be increasingly important.

Insurance everywhere: At least three-quarters placed a priority on IoT and cloud

As insurers seek a digital advantage for their still very real-world business, sensors, and the ability to connect and monitor them, have become a top priority. The survey asked which technologies will most help them deliver the results they need over the next 2–3 years and  87% chose IoT initiatives, followed by 77% selecting cloud. And how to manage all that data? More than half expect AI to become one of their core Technologies over the next two to three years.

From an operational standpoint, it’s about finding the best solutions that allow the apps and the claims systems to run uninterrupted. And doing so in a way that is cost-effective, with technology investments that can quickly pay for themselves—both for customers and carriers.

Empowered employees: 63% of executives said work-life balance was their top employee engagement issue

Compared to other industries, where fewer than half stressed work-life balance, this is obviously a high priority for carriers. After all, whether its agency operators, claims adjustors in the field or customer reps at a call center, insurers have some of the greatest needs from their workforce of any industry.

Fostering a sense of belonging and providing tools to help employees cope with both a fast-changing industry and world, are increasingly crucial to success.

The risks of cybersecurity: Only 43% of insurance executives believe technology can make an impact on cyberthreats

While insurance executives placed cyber risk as the top challenge they could face over the next two to three years, less than half were confident they had the technology to deal with it.

This is a serious challenge for an industry that deals with so much sensitive information: not just financial but also personal, property and health records can often be intermingled in an insurers data logs. Securing this vital information will only grow in importance.

To discover more, read the entire C-suite survey of more than 3,000 leaders across all industries and sectors. And for a complete discussion of our insurance findings, schedule a meeting with an IBM representative.

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