If I would have known this, I might have spent a little more time on polishing it: Within one week my article "Amazon is Coming. Game Over for the Insurance Industry?" published on InsurtechNews in English and in the Versicherungsjournal in German was viewed over 100.000 times on Linkedin, Xing, Twitter, InsurtechNews and Versicherungsjournal. On its day of publishing it immediately became the most read commentary on the insurance industry of 2017 of the Versicherungsjournal – Germanys most spread industry magazine.
We also saw a controversial debate starting on Linkedin and with counter articles in the Versicherungsjournal. I believe this Amazon-Insurtech-Debate underlines the energy and strength of the insurance and insurtech ecosystem.
Amazon entering the insurance business?
Originally I wrote the article as a response to rumors - well, more than rumors - that Amazon is creating a department of about 100 people-strong in London. The analysis showed what Amazon's strategic maneuvering might mean for the insurance industry – especially taking their current state into consideration. Basically, the time that insurers have to react to the challenges of digital transformation is much shorter than we thought - especially sind Amazon as a tech-and data-driven company with a proven ability to disrupt other industries enters the industry. If the insurance industry doesn't act fast, for example hiring digital natives – also on board level - and acknowledging the dramatic character of the own state in times of digital transformation, they are in deep trouble.
Debate in the insurance and insurtech community
I found the reaction – especially on LinkedIn – to this analysis wonderfully disparate and thoughtful. I was happy to that a long list of renown experts and inspiring individuals contributed to the discussion – for example: Matteo Carbone, Christiane Bieck, Etienne Bourdon, Karl Heinz Passler, Steve Tunstall, Ales Tomazin, Ajay Pathak and Barry Rabkin, who passionately defended the current state of the industry. I was also happy about the voices of Shawn Michael Walker, Adrian Casanova, Christian Bieck, Greg Summerlin, John Talianis, Stephen Goldstein, Aaron Gordon, Lawrence Marcus, Arooran Sivasubramaniam, Adrian Sweeney, Kai Honetschläger, Amjad Khan, Jürgen Marke, Mary Alejandra Ballesta, Gabriel Nascimiento, Massimiliano Brunelli, Rune Berggren, Thi Lee and Aditaya Jasrotia.
A lot contributors to the debate underlined, that Amazon's large success in retail - partly due to its technological strength, pre-existing and devoted customer base, and seemingly unlimited capital - would render it an inevitable success in the insurance industry as well. Concerns regarding the effects of the intensive regulations in the United States and other countries were mentioned, as well as concerns regarding the usefulness of the nature of the data that Amazon collects to inform itself of its consumers (and perhaps future regulations regarding its data!). Comparisons with the ill-fated Google Compare were also made. My favorite points, even though I do not agree on all, were those surrounding the complexity regarding customer service within insurance, which – some say – goes far deeper and extends far longer than in retail. Several commenters noted that Amazon may not be viewed as "experts" by their consumer base, which could show itself in a lack of trust for the company to handle the large life events that we, as insurance providers, work with every day. As Aaron Gordon, an advisor and risk management specialist from New York, illustrated, "'Alexa, my house is burning down. Where will my family sleep tonight?'"
A international insurance and insurtech community exchanges ideas
So what does this mean? The discussion, stretching around the world, shows that we can have a multi-national, immensely well-informed, controversial discussion on the internet people all around the world can participating. We can inform different ecosystems about the complexities of our home markets, share our unique experiences, and listen to others' viewpoints. It means that people want to push this industry to explore its outer limits.
This lively participation within our community is fantastic and could take us very far.