30 Most Influential Companies of the year 2020 (Special Edition)
When COVID-19 forced billions into isolation in early 2020, it served as a massive wakeup call to brick-and-mortar businesses everywhere. While retailers and restaurants shut their doors, online shopping and food delivery services thrived—all thanks to drastic shifts in customer mindsets, needs and behaviors.
For an aging life and health insurance industry in which the face of the product has long been the agent who is selling it, these shifts have had a significant impact on how people shop for and purchase a policy.
So why have things never looked brighter for Tomer Frey, CTO of iptiQ Americas? “Honestly, we saw it coming years ago, this digital shift,” he says. “The pandemic accelerated the timeline a bit—but we’ve built ourselves with this eventual future in mind.”
iptiQ was created as a global risk tech company in 2016 by Swiss Re, a leading wholesale provider of reinsurance and insurance. However, its genesis was much earlier, with iptiQ emerging from several technology initiatives along the insurance value chain. iptiQ uses a B2B2C distribution model that focuses on offering insurance solutions through a variety of channel partners. iptiQ’s cutting-edge digital risk tech insurance platform helps carriers and distribution partners accelerate access to new customers, high-value products and world-class underwriting capabilities.
Frey says customer expectations for insurance products had already started to change well before the pandemic, based on insights iptiQ discovered by continuously checking the pulse of its target audience through UX research and UI testing.
“People have become used to customization, and optimized solutions driven by data, speed and modern technology,” he says. “We’ve been able to optimize our customer experience, creating simple online journeys that make the process of buying life insurance easy for all of our stakeholders, including agents, consumers, and the families we protect.”
With the magnitude of its platform and growing business, iptiQ is planning to serve one million journeys per month, heading into 2021. Journeys focus on agents and consumers; both are measured by following UX design methodologies that track behavioral and attitudinal scores in iterating improvements.
A key to iptiQ’s success has been its approach to customer experience, which would look more at home in Palo Alto than in the insurance industry. Frey describes CX as a “full movement,” acknowledging that the shift from traditional to digital has long been in play over the past decade. “That’s why we designed our platform with the customer at the center—and focused on building out its capabilities to effectively support the end-to-end customer journey. It’s all about the customer,” Frey said.
Other 2020 studies conducted by iptiQ and its research partners have confirmed behavioral shifts related to the changing attitudes about insurance. Rather than working with a local agent, consumers are researching online, and going to multiple websites to get quotes and price comparisons. Even after an application is submitted, those shopping behaviors continue, indicating a customer can decide at any point to change their mind about an insurer.
Product demand is also shifting toward new-age products, which can be bought or redeemed online, with greater transparency and less complex terms and conditions. iptiQ is responding with self-serve purchase journeys and robust service capabilities. With a vaccine now on the horizon, many insurance industry executives and marketers are placing bets on whether consumers will return to their old habits or if these new behaviors are here to stay.
“We just don’t see any of these trends slowing down once things get back to normal,” says Frey. “In fact, we see the acceleration continuing. Either way, iptiQ is prepared to win.”
Along with the changing consumer landscape, iptiQ is building up its capabilities through the value chain, in anticipation of an operational evolution. Strong platforms could start to digitize agents and flatten hierarchies; digital and automated underwriting could become the norm; and new distribution channels and partnerships will create brands that compete with the strongest in the industry.
All of this raises questions of strategy and culture. “Creating a culture of empowerment and adaptability is going to be essential to supporting change,” Frey says, adding that companies that work together to co-create and integrate within the value chain will have the best chance to succeed.
Enabling Partners Through Data and Tech
Their bold investment in technology shows up loud and clear in the modular design of iptiQ’s platform. Customizable dashboards, API integrations, and a life and health insurance product suite are among a flexible menu of plug-and-play offerings that enable their partners to quickly level up their own capabilities within digital transformation.
These are approaches that had never been a part of the traditional insurance value chain, but are quickly becoming table stakes in the wake of the fast growing insurtech market. New technologies are lowering costs and creating new modes of interaction, according to Frey.
“There has to be a willingness to embrace change and differentiation—to challenge the way you operate and ensure you’re exceeding customer expectations,” he says. “People, paradigms, data and technology are key enablers.”
iptiQ has adopted cloud and subscription contracts to reduce ownership of IT assets and has also embraced an agile mindset that appears to have pushed the design-thinking of its team and tech. It’s led to fast growth and collaborative partnerships and a drive toward innovation.
iptiQ’s reputation for leading the insurtech movement in Boston is attracting diverse tech talent. Their team consists of fresh new minds and seasoned industry veterans who Frey describes as curious, passionate and diverse.
“Our commitment to creating a truly unique culture has resulted in meaningful growth and innovation for our teams and tech,” he says. “It’s really exciting to be leading that movement.”
While insurance remains an essential commodity, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a stark intersection between possibility and demand from all corners of the industry. It has significantly impacted the world, emphasized the value of human life, and put a renewed focus back on customers, as well as their needs and expectations from the people and companies they engage with.
The question now faced by industry players both old and new is clear—what happens next?
This change in consumer behavior is bound to help and fuel an innovative company like iptiQ that has seen great success in addressing industry challenges and leading through change. On a reputable fast-track for growth, iptiQ is on the verge of opening a new office in Boston, MA—a hub for new people and new talent in an innovative and highly sought tech epicenter.
“This location will bring us closer to our industry partners and give us access to an incredibly diverse talent pool,” Frey shared. “Boston presents a significant opportunity for iptiQ, as we continue to expand and live out our mission to protect more families.”
The Leader Upfront
Tomer Frey, CTO, iptiQ Americas Tomer Frey is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) at iptiQ Americas. He has a proven track record of advising healthcare and technology organizations through growth. Tomer’s spent the last 20 years driving innovation and productivity throughout the product and software development cycle.
iptiQ’s cutting-edge digital risk tech insurance platform helps carriers and distribution partners accelerate access to new customers, high-value products and world-class underwriting capabilities.
“We’ve been able to optimize our customer experience, creating simple online journeys that make the process of buying life insurance easy for all of our stakeholders, including agents, consumers, and the families we protect.”
“Creating a culture of empowerment and adaptability is going to be essential to supporting change.”