Rethinking business models, navigating uncertainty

Melody Chikono

THE Insurance Institute of Zimbabwe (IIZ) recently hosted its annual conference in Victoria Falls under the theme Challenging Risk Culture, Rethink Business Models, Navigate Uncertainty. The theme spoke to the need to come up with strategies which challenge the risk culture, re-thinking and re-designing business models in order to navigate the uncertain business environment.

The conference came at a time the insurance sector is saddled with legacy issues that include loss of value, while it is also struggling to meet capital requirements and prescribed asset ratios.

On the other hand, various issues at the macro-economic level have affected the industry, including currency transition, at a time the sector is expected to adapt to the incoming of International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 17, a new accounting standard which all insurance entities are expected to comply with by 2021.

The conference touched on various issues including how the sector can grow with its customers — leveraging the customers’ journey to build a lasting brand, the role of accounting-: reporting and auditing in an ever-changing environment insuretech as well as fuelling innovation of micro insurance products through partnerships among other topics.

IIZ general manager George Chikava said insurance cuts across all sectors of the economy and the theme brought about issues that are of utmost importance to the growth and development of such sectors like information technology customer centricity, strategy transformation and big data issues.

“These areas do not only affect the insurance industry but the whole business environment. The insurance institute aims to promote, to develop insurance professional standard to world standards. The annual conference presents an excellent educational, social and networking forum whereby delegates network to seal business opportunities and come up with strategies to enhance business relationships and performance,” he said.

SolvIT Solutions (Kenya) founder, James Wambugu who presented on the topic “From big data to insights: Solving pressing issues and Capturing market opportunities” challenged insurance companies to embrace changes in technology, saying as insurance becomes more personalised, customers will enjoy better prices and coverage.

“However, this raises challenges for those who are priced out or excluded by more individualised models. Artificial intelligence (AI) will push insurance to be more connected, more real-time and more accurate, but incumbents will start from a position of disadvantage on the data battlefront compared to large technology firms, current regulatory frameworks will need to adapt to enable the issuance of dynamic policies and coverage,” he said.

Wambugu added that as AI reinvents processes across the insurance value chain, many roles will be displaced, necessitating a plan to transition those displaced into new functions.

“Dynamic insurance policies and real-time claims processing will necessitate new approaches to mitigating the potential for increased fraud,” he said.
2Cana Solutions CE Dave Carson I said InsureTech was the new insurance revolution and urged delegates to take note of some basic fundamentals that would enable their businesses to grow.

“You must be able to integrate with whoever, be true omni-platform and embrace a no/low code approach. Insuretech is key is key and constrained delivery is unacceptable but Innovation is possible. Think big and think laterally,” he said.

The conference also touched on how the general economic environment was choking the insurance business but the general outcome of the conference was that insurers had to think outside the box if the sector is to survive the economic turbulence.