North American mutuals join with ICMIF Intelligence Committee for unique strategic discussions

Thursday, 04 May 2017

Over 30 senior executives from mutual and cooperative insurers from around the world met in Washington, D.C. at the end of April for a day of strategic discussions and networking. The theme for this ICMIF event, which followed the ICMIF Intelligence Committee meeting in the same location, was centred on the latest technological and digitalisation changes impacting mutual and cooperative insurers, with a number of best-practice case studies presented by ICMIF members.

The day’s agenda began with roundtable introductions and a brief overview of each company’s strategy and new initiatives, innovations and challenges. The latest insurance technology trends impacting the life/health and non-life industry were then presenting by Sarah Van Slyke, Director of Strategic Development at host company Thrivent Financial (USA) and Theo Lau, a leading Fintech influencer and Director of Market Innovation at AARP - a non-profit membership association that serves people over the age of 50. The presentation focused on the potential opportunities and challenges of new and emerging technology to insurers, such as Internet of Things (IoT), big data and artificial intelligence (AI), Blockchain, genetic and biotech data, Insurtech start-ups and new peer-to-peer business models.

A number of best-practice case studies of ICMIF members utilising the latest technological and digital advances were then presented to the group. Gundula Heinatz Bürki, Head of Smart Analytics at Swiss Mobiliar (Switzerland), presented their innovation “speedboat” strategy in the digital age, including cognitive technology, data analytics (through the Mobiliar Lab ETH for Analytics) and partnerships with peer-to-peer and sharing economy platforms. Marisa Parmigiani, Assistant to the Chairman at Unipol (Italy), then spoke about how Unipol is developing an ecosystem of connected services, based on strong telematics, IoT and big data capabilities. Finally, Gina Fusco, Director of Strategy and Marketing at NFU Mutual (UK) presented how NFUM’s agents are maintaining a local personal service through social media as part of their digital customer experience strategy.

Speaking after the meeting Bill McKinney, Vice-President, Strategy and Long-term Development and Chair of the Intelligence Committee, said “This unique meeting was a great opportunity to meet other ICMIF members from around the world and learn from one another, share challenges, and discuss solutions. Despite the differences in geography we found many areas where our interests converged, and we made connections that we can lean on going forward. It was also just really fun to meet new people who share a passion for cooperative and mutual insurance from different markets around the world"

He added: "It's such an exciting and challenging time for our industry. Consumer expectations are changing very rapidly. Technology is creating incredible new challenges and opportunities. And there's a rapidly emerging ecosystem of Insurtech start-ups, new funders, and supporting organisations like incubators that we need to figure out how to engage with.”

As well as members of the ICMIF Intelligence Committee, representatives from ICMIF members Trillium Mutual (Canada), EMC Insurance Companies, Shelter Insurance, Goodville Mutual, American Fraternal Alliance (AFA) and NAMIC (all USA), as well as a select few of other invited North American mutual insurers and associations were also present.

The themes of this meeting will feature heavily in the agenda for the upcoming ICMIF Biennial Conference in London, UK (17-20 October 2017). Plenary sessions on Thursday will focus on how technology and innovation is redesigning insurance and will include member and external expert presentations on how to manage and insure emerging risks; how to reach new markets and engage with customers; and how to embed a culture of innovation in organisational capabilities.

The next ICMIF Intelligence Committee will take place in Bern, Switzerland in November 2017, hosted by Swiss Mobiliar.

For more information about the Intelligence Committee, please contact Ben Telfer, Vice-President, Business Intelligence.