Every new source of data and digital pathway opens more doors for insurers to improve what they can offer and how they offer it. We're pinning a lot on the industry's ability to use this growing digital environment to better engage – and stay engaged – with consumers. But at the end of the day, and behind every "click", there is still a human decision.
A range of new touchpoints are unfolding from a simpler purchase and underwriting process to very technical solutions aimed directly at changing behaviours using new tools like health wearables, and sensors in your car and home.
So the key questions are: Do we really understand what drives a digital-based decision? And are we designing products and processes accordingly?
Our dedicated behavioural science team is finding the answers and using them to help insurers succeed. In the past four years, we've run more than 100 behavioural economics (BE) trials together with our insurance clients. During this time, we've seen a steady increase in trials with a digital focus. "Improve your digital decision points" gives you a summary of what we've learned on the digital front and some examples of insurers' success.
So how do people behave differently online versus offline?
Digital environment changes the way people digest, perceive and disclose information. Given the sheer volume of information and choices, we are prone to rely more heavily on mental shortcuts – some typical decision biases we face offline can be magnified online. Additionally, multiple research studies found that reading on a screen vs. paper diminishes speed and comprehension. This means it's more important than ever to design online journeys that incorporate behavioural expertise.
The way people share information may also differ online vs. offline. People tend to reveal more sensitive information, such as health-related problems, drug use and medical symptoms, via computer surveys rather than questions administered with more human involvement. This probably sound familiar to underwriters, who sometimes share anecdotes about disclosure variation across channels. It's worth testing rigorously how to optimise this process in an insurance setting.
Digital also brings new, improved ways to conduct behavioural research.
New digital settings also provide more opportunity and flexibility for how we conduct behavioural research. We can design new trials that offer faster feedback, reach larger sample sizes and cost less than traditional offline methods.
At Swiss Re, we're exploring an online laboratory to test behavioural ideas. We can design experiments that mimic real-life choices in order to test for potential effectiveness of an intervention. This approach can be particularly valuable to gain behavioural insights prior to product launch, or to narrow down various interventions to be subsequently tested in the field. We're always mindful of the consequences of generalising research findings across contexts, and make sure we address this as we define the scope of a trial and sample selection.
If you'd like to talk about how our behavioural scientists might help you improve a process or customer connection point, please contact your Swiss Re representative to start the discussion.
About the author
Tiffany Zhang has been leading Swiss Re's Behavioural Research for the Asia Pacific region, she will soon transition to lead Behavioural Research for the Americas. She holds a Master of Science in Economics from the London School of Economics.
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