The insurance sector wants to be more digital. After a year marked by the pandemic, the members of the industry have been able to take advantage of the technological tools that have allowed them to maintain the operation of the business and a fluid communication with its users. “The sector has responded forcefully in an absolutely exceptional situation,” said Ana de la Cueva, Secretary of State for the Economy and Business Support, at an event organized this week by EL PAÍS, in collaboration with KPMG. “In the last year it has become clear that we have a resilient and flexible sector that was prepared to continue and operate in a digital and disruptive environment,” added Hilario Albarracín, president of KPMG in Spain.

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Above all, the industry wants to open up to the world of data analysis and artificial intelligence to better understand its customers and identify new risks in the market. Because talking about digitization is not just telecommuting or video calling. “Digitization is associated with being able to work remotely, and they are two completely different things,” said José Manuel Inchausti, Vice President of Mapfre. In the health sector, for example, you can make a medical consultation in real time using the chat where specialists from various specialties attend, explained the manager. “We have to be much more ambitious in the process because, I insist, it is not about making videos, it is about entering a new world,” said Inchausti. For Amalio Berbel, Partner Responsible for Insurance at KPMG, the pandemic has shown that previous investments in digitization have paid off. “Luckily it had been done, because otherwise the situation would have been very different,” he said.

Today, companies not only have greater interaction with their customers, but have also been able to market their products digitally. “We ourselves boast that there were activities that were only possible to do physically,” said Vicente Cancio, CEO of Zurich Spain. This executive indicated that the industry has shown that it is possible to sell policies, as well as negotiate and pay claims remotely. “There is an opportunity to combine the best of both worlds. We can go to a hybrid world where the office continues to have a central place, but we take advantage of all the technologies ”, he highlighted.

The technological revolution in which the sector has plunged promises to transform it in the coming decades. “The truth is that I don’t know what the insurance will be like in 20 or 30 years,” said Mirenchu ​​del Valle, general secretary of the Spanish Union of Insurance and Reinsurance Entities (Unespa). “It will be more transparent, more interconnected, more focused on meeting customer needs, but will continue to maintain that role of accompaniment, advice, help to the customer to try to detect risks,” he added. But one of the aspects that do not play in favor of digitization, according to Del Valle, is the regulatory framework and the supervisory criteria in which its activity operates. “What I want to highlight is that there are many aspects that are designed for an analog world based on paper,” he added.

Interaction

Participants agreed that more digitization does not mean fewer people working in the sector. “Digitization is a facilitator to do things differently, but those who have to set the pace are our clients and collaborators on how they want to interact with us,” said Javier Valle, general director of Vidacaixa. “I don’t see a single channel,” he added. Juan Closa, general director of the traditional business of Catalana Occidente, affirmed that technology is only an instrument that allows us to get closer to the client. “But they are not all the same, the user has to relate in the way they want, by phone, on the web, through social networks… Our strategy is mediation. The mediator will continue to play a key role in advising and as a connoisseur of the product ”.

Premium income reached 58.85 billion euros last year, 8.3% less than in 2019, according to Unespa. Despite this, the industry has preserved high levels of solvency and has maintained its service to its customers normally throughout the year. For this year, the market is expected to remain stable. It will not be until the next exercise when he recovers. “65% of the companies in the sector do not expect to return to precovid billing levels until at least 2022,” according to Albarracín, taking as a reference a report made by KPMG.

One of the keys to growth will be European funds. “They should be a source of growth, transformation, employment and sustainability for the Spanish economy as a whole, which in turn will generate numerous opportunities for all insurance companies”, highlighted Albarracín. For this, according to De la Cueva, it is necessary to underpin public-private collaboration.

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