Leistungen // Laterales Management

what are the implications of airbnb for the insurance sector?

Airbnb has changed the hotel and overnight accommodation situation for tourists and business travellers significantly in recent years. Today, one in every eleven overnight bookings by tourists is arranged via online portals.

What are the implications of this instance of digitalisation for other sectors? A report from the insurance industry provides insight here. While fintechs are currently the focus of a great deal of attention because they are changing banks through digitalisation, the transformation in the insurance sector caused by insurtechs is taking place more surreptitiously – but is at least equally significant.

New digital technologies are driving innovations

Insurtechs have initiated an overdue process of structural change in the sector. Whether in terms of quotations, sales or operations, new digital technologies are driving innovations along the entire value added chain. Insurtechs are involved at every level, albeit to a greater or lesser extent. However, the risk that innovative start-ups are aiming to re-divide the insurance industry’s ‘cake’ to the detriment of established companies is not merely theoretical in nature but very real”, according to the report.

The report, which is well worth reading, provides a detailed examination of several insurtech start-ups and the various models on which new insurtech companies are focusing in Germany. The idea raised by Kottmann and Dördrechter that it is not the established travel agencies that have changed the supply of overnight accommodation throughout the world but outsiders such as Airbnb, which have created something completely new on the supply-side, and consequently for the customer, is particularly interesting.

Insurance companies wish to learn from these market changes

The Munich Re manager Harald Rosenberger commented on this as follows: “They do not primarily consider the insurance business as such but rapidly realise how they can expand their ideas.” This is why lots of insurance companies are looking to talk to insurtechs or buying stakes in promising start-ups to participate in their creative ideas. AXA is cooperating with companies from outside the sector, such as the energy company RWE. RWE has information through which damage to water pipes can be identified before a claim arises. This can save money before an insured event occurs.

This bringing together of claim-relevant data through new correlations will allow the sector to break completely new ground in that insurance companies will not only insure their customers’ risks but also advise them before any possible damage.

The potential for re-thinking insurance benefits is enormous. In this respect, insurance companies differ from the hotel industry. They do not want to be caught out by online innovators such as Airbnb but play a role in influencing the transformation of business models.