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Australia overdue for insurance innovation

Big data could be the biggest single driver of genuine innovation within an Australian life insurance industry that hasn’t seen much of it in years, according to Zurich.

Richard Dunkerley, head of marketing and communications for Zurich’s life and investments business, spoke on the first Adviser Innovation Podcast about how the Australian life insurance industry has been lacking genuine innovation for years.

He referred to big data as “feeding into all of the current tech trends around insurance”.

“I think virtual reality, artificial intelligence, machine learning ... continue to be pretty much high on the agenda,” Mr Dunkerley said.

“I think wearables are also continuing to really figure prominently as areas of discussion.”

Mr Dunkerley also flagged the harnessing of personal health records, making reference to “the amount of personal information we have about ourselves as individuals”.


While he acknowledged the ethical and privacy issues surrounding the matter, he also said it is ultimately the point the industry will reach.

“If we get to a point where that becomes more widely available and shareable, it takes us into a whole new territory in terms of the ability of insurers to price risk and offer more innovative products,” Mr Dunkerley said.

“Those are the sort of things that we’re going to see and, ultimately, that’s going to be better for customers because we’re going to be able to genuinely price and underwrite on a truly individual basis.”

Meanwhile, Align Financial director Darren Johns said he tries not to get his advice firm too caught up in using “the latest flashing light or the latest gadget”.

But he also said there is room for tech innovation in the insurance space, provided the focus remains on how the technology can create better relationships with clients and/or create more relationships with more clients.  

“I think if we go with that lens, I think the interest in data is definitely there and, even in a small business like ours, it can certainly help enrich what we do and help our clients and help us relate to them,” Mr Johns said.

To listen to the full Adviser Innovation Podcast featuring Richard Dunkerley and Darren Johns, click here.

Australia overdue for insurance innovation
Richard Dunkerley
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Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores

Adrian Flores is a deputy editor at Momentum Media, focusing mainly on banking, wealth management and financial services. He has also written for Public Accountant, Accountants Daily and The CEO Magazine.

You can contact him on [email protected].

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