By Mary Sams, Senior Research Analyst, Triple-I
“Embedded insurance” – often described as “B2B2C insurance” – has long been touted as a path toward innovation and growth in the traditional insurance market. However, it has been slow to mature.
The term refers to the integration of insurance products and services into retail transactions. The objective is to offer insurance solutions at the point of sale or as part of a package of products or services. This requires that the products and processes be simplified so that the consumer can make an informed purchase. Complex commercial insurance products are not likely to succeed using the embedded insurance model.
Six years ago, according to a report published by global investment management firm Conning, embedded insurance was frequently cited as a use case for distributed ledger technology or blockchain. Blockchain is a complex, ledger-centric technology that has a multitude of benefits, such as enhanced data security, immutability, and optimized data sharing.
More often than not, these benefits are overshadowed by cryptocurrency’s somewhat lackluster reputation. This complexity – and the more recent travails of crypto — may have contributed to the slow adoption of this technology for embedded insurance.
“We’re overwhelmed by the insurance industry’s curiosity in network-based technologies, such as blockchain,” says Brendan Picha, head of outreach for the RiskStream Collaborative. “We have several initiatives, some global in scope, that are reaching a welcomed point of maturity within the enterprise. This is happening at an interesting intersection with developments of other emerging technologies. The industry is now looking carefully at how these technologies could work together and RiskStream is well positioned to support and usher in this exploration.”
RiskStream – like Triple-I, an affiliate of The Institutes – is a member-led non-profit that aims to create an ecosystem using blockchain to streamline data flow and verification, reduce operating and vendor costs, drive efficiency, and enhance customer experience.
Many applications for embedded insurance have used open APIs and microprocesses to scale applications with retail partners. These technologies have helped support the growth of embedded insurance in travel insurance, personal auto, homeowners, and extended warranty products.
However, for most traditional insurance products, embedded insurance poses a challenge. These products are “sold, not bought,” and moving the purchase to a simplified platform and linking it to the retailer offers customers choices they may not be prone to make without a sales pitch.
Private equity investment companies have been attracted to companies seeking to expand into embedded insurance, attracting $3.5 billion since 2015, according to Conning. Gartner, a large research and consulting firm, has positioned embedded insurance at the heart of what it predicts will become the dominant insurance business model.
Growth in online sales since 2020 has increased the opportunities presented by embedded insurance as consumers have become more engaged in all types of online transactions. Financial services companies have grown and expanded tremendously during this time. Consumers have engaged in buying and selling automobiles online and have expanded the OEM relationship.
However, online sales of insurance have not seen similar growth. In 2017, Tesla launched a full-stack insurance business direct to consumers. While this technically is not embedded insurance, it illustrates the benefits of sharing telematics data from vehicles in underwriting the insurance program.
Expectations for embedded insurance are varied. Personal lines insurance with $400 billion in premium and small business with $100 billion in premium continue to be the greatest targets, according to Conning. Simplifying the insurance application, growing premium, lowering expense ratios, and narrowing protection gaps are all opportunities. The realization of these benefits and successes will depend on their being embraced by the carrier-retail partners.