WeGoLook CEO, Robin Smith (right), presented her company’s offering to about 40 Willis Towers Watson colleagues in Chicago on November 30, 2017 during the monthly CHI-BAR event. Also pictured were the organizers and hosts of the event, Andrew Johnston (Head of InsurTech, left) and Greg Moore (Broker, center).
Since the release of the first iPhone back in 2007, the functionality and dependence we’ve placed on technology has drastically increased the importance of personalization, customer orientation and the collection of data. These recent developments have been creatively disrupting and building upon the efforts of previous generations in many different industries, especially in insurance and InsurTech. One of the biggest developments is that of the Sharing Economy.
Sharing as disruption
The Sharing Economy, also known as “collaborative consumption” or as the “peer-to-peer economy,” is based on the idea of creating efficiencies through technology. Technically speaking, it looks to fundamentally change how business is conducted by revealing and replacing unnecessary intermediaries with technology capable of providing the same service. Doing so results in numerous benefits to customers, including lower costs, better access to products and services, and less time to complete a transaction. In any industry, when your offering is better than the competition in terms of these three measures, you have the potential to make a significant disruption.
Uber is one of the earliest examples of a successful Sharing Economy business. But the Sharing Economy has gained traction in multiple industries, including insurance. Take WeGoLook, for example.
“The Uber of appraisals”
WeGoLook, founded in 2009, has been dubbed the “Uber for appraisals” due to its use of the Sharing Economy and its vast resources in the form of approximately 36,000 “Lookers.” The company’s offering is simple: If you need something (e.g. car, home, eBay item) appraised or you need more information in the form of a written explanation, video and/or images, WeGoLook will outsource the project to someone within its network.
The original purpose of WeGoLook was just that – to provide information and reassurance about a product that a consumer wasn’t able to inspect firsthand before buying. However, the appetite for this service in the insurance industry was quickly recognized, so much so that WeGoLook has taken on much more of a business-to-business model, with 40% of their business coming from insurance companies.
Insurance companies partnering with WeGoLook have been able to reduce their turnaround time on quoting potential insureds or assessing claims due to the speed at which the service can access the information requested (the average return time for a 1-day turnaround is 0.83 days, and for a 3-day turnaround, 1.86 days). The company has cut costs for its partners by enabling them to no longer retain claims adjusters and underwriters on staff, and has facilitated improved, quality information as well.
Making strides in the Sharing Economy
WeGoLook isn’t the only example of a new company taking advantage of the Sharing Economy through an insurance lens. German-based Friendsurance uses social media to create pools for personal lines of insurance, thereby making premiums cheaper for individuals through the use of their own networks. Zenefits gives its HR software away for free, but makes money on broker commissions for health insurance sold on their platform. Other examples include BizInsure, MetroMile, Evosure, SocialIntel.com and more.
The Sharing Economy is one positive result of the generational shift, as the society continues to lean more and more on technology. Spending habits are changing – services and products, such as music, are “lent” or made accessible through subscriptions like Spotify and Apple Music. The need for space, both physical and digital, is diminishing because technology is enabling greater access to needed goods and services and creating incentives for us to own less and share more. This societal shift is going to continue to change commerce, not just in the insurance business, but in virtually all industries willing to embrace new models of growth driven by technology.
Alex La Palme is a Reinsurance Treaty analyst in Willis Towers Watson’s Chicago office. He provides client support to Property and Casualty Insurance writers in the Midwest and aids in the placement of reinsurance treaties alongside completing the Willis REACH training program.