Erik Ross predicts that carriers will increasingly rush to all things digital in the months ahead. A running quip among investors explains why.

“There’s a joke going around – ‘What’s the biggest driver of your digital transformation? And it’s the [coronavirus] pandemic, “said Ross, head of Venture Capital & Open Innovation for Nationwide Insurance. “I do think it’s going to be a jumping off point here, as a big impetus to really drive home a lot of these types of technological advances as we continue through.”

Ross offered his thoughts on the pandemic and its likely influence on digital carrier technology investments during an interview held as part of Carrier Management’s InsurTech Virtual Summit on May 6, 2020. Considering the pandemic forced legions of people to work from home [Ross included], he noted that many were asking if less digital ways would return when the crisis past. Ross said that a return to the old normal is not guaranteed.

Erik Ross/Nationwide

“This is more just my hypothesis …. So on the claim side, anything that we can do on the underwriting side, if you need to have an inspection done, anything that has to do with virtual management of those types of interactions, is another thing that is going to change for the next … 12 to 18 months as we continue to go through the pandemic, Ross said. (He suggested that remote healthcare visits would also gain steam due to COVID-19 risks.)

Ross said that these technologies, as they are adopted, make it “very easy to do these assessments and inspections in different ways that we haven’t thought about before.” As a result, he said the whole model could easily change.

That change would be “probably for the better too,” he said, “because you take some more expense out of the model – it could be better for consumers and for carriers alike.”

For Ross, digital technology in areas including machine learning, commercial lines and underwriting are all points of interest – things that can help ease and quicken processes.

“We want to do as much as we possibly can to help the underwriting teams leverage third party data in a way that can make that process faster and deliver a consumer experience,” Ross said. “We’re [also] looking at agency technology that can help decrease that friction, between us and the agents, as much as we possibly can, and also on the claims side as well – anything that can help ease that process and make it a better experience, for both us and the consumer is [another area of] interest.”

Topics COVID-19