Atlas Magazine March 2013

The digital revolution

The insurance market is undergoing profound mutations. With an average 15% annual growth worldwide and 25% in the Anglo-Saxon countries, e-insurance already accounts for a significant percentage of the written premiums in advanced economies.

The internet wave which materializes through the emergence of thousands of commercial sites is worrying and shaking insurers. The inexorable rise of digital economy has not only modified the distribution channels of products but also the insurer-insured relationship.

Structural adjustment problem for some, opportunity for others, the marriage of insurance and internet can constitute a growth accelerator, a niche where insurers of developing countries had better invest.

Setting up an online sales portal on the internet is easier than building a network of inexperienced and poorly trained agents. Guiding customers via an expert platform is less onerous than hiring, training and most importantly retaining salesmen whose turnover is exorbitant.

Insurance dematerialization is a universal trend that no company can escape. The young generation has embraced the web into its lifestyle. They will underwrite insurance policy and report their claims online without bothering to show up at insurance premises since their agency is virtual. Insurers, on their part, are required to learn how to manage personal line policies online. Only industrial risks will continue to be handled by salesmen equipped with smartphones and digital tablets.

Like the cell phone that has revolutionized microinsurance in Africa and Asia, the web could become the growth driver of an insurance business in search of a development model.

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