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By  , Principal, Insurance

The conservative reputation the industry enjoys has served to camouflage a tremendous track record of innovation.

Howard Mills & Bernard Tubiana

Director and Chief Advisor & Principal, Deloitte

Despite its longstanding conservative, stoic persona the life insurance industry has always experienced innovation. The difference now is that insurance innovation has become the new face of the industry because of the adjective that’s been tacked on to it: disruptive.

In what seems like an overnight race against time, insurance companies are forming “innovation departments” that report directly to the CEO or CIO. Their mission: discover a competitive advantage. Their goal: be the first to bring an idea or technology to market that will fundamentally change business processes and propel them to the forefront of a now fast-moving industry.

Innovation departments explore cognitive computing, analytics and artificial intelligence. They are lean, creative think tanks with minimal restrictions on what is in and what is out. Bureaucracy is at a minimum and decisions are made quickly.

This is exactly what Farm Bureau Financial Services did.

I recently attended a session that Nick Gerhart led at the AHOU 2018 Annual Conference. He’s the Chief Administrative Officer for Farm Bureau. Nick started at Farm Bureau what he calls the “Innovation Fund” — resources set aside specifically for exploring new ideas. The fund supports anywhere from 4-20 new ideas each year that employees submit. On a daily basis, Nick receives 5-6 ideas from colleagues!

insurance innovation
The Innovation Fund encourages employees to think outside the box and develop ideas for new products, changes to processes, etc. Additionally, the Fund keeps everyone on their toes. It forces employees to be active participants in the insurance industry — to stay up to date on trends, news, and changing customer demands.

Tips on Achieving Insurance Innovation

In his session, Nick offered some excellent tips on how to bring insurance innovation into your business/department/company:

  1. Innovate from within your organization.
  2. Find a way for the ideas of people in “lower levels” to be heard.
  3. Any starting point is a good starting point.
  4. Your employees are there for a reason – because they are smart, capable, creative people — leverage that!
  5. Create an environment that fosters insurance innovation.
  6. Have a place for people to submit new ideas, respond to them, and extend them.
  7. Believe that the industry can innovate.

Innovation and new ideas don’t just happen on their own though — they take inspiration. Subscribe to our insurance blog to receive two emails per month with the latest news, trends, and technologies to inspire insurance innovation and spark ideas.

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Will Sellenraad

Will Sellenraad

Principal, Insurance

About the Author: I love working with clients to bring insurance innovation to their organization. This summer I’m most looking forward to spending time with family, golfing, grilling, hitting the beach, attending car shows, and autocross.

This post was originally published on June 16, 2017. It was updated on May 24, 2018.