Top insurance industry issues in 2021

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The COVID-19 pandemic has forced insurers to leave the status quo behind. More change has occurred in the industry in the past year than in the previous several years combined and its pace is only accelerating.

How you ride the wave of change is what will matter most in the coming year. Many insurers are taking bold steps to capitalize on structural changes in the marketplace, technology trends, and evolving customer behaviors. Where do you stand?

  • Is your business model business as usual?
  • Have your operations become digital or are they still largely analog?
  • Can you provide the kinds of new products and services your customers want?

A common theme has emerged: To effectively transform your business, you’ll need to make more than just fragmented business line or functional investments. Although an effective strategy will include “quick wins” in specific areas, ultimate success requires an enterprise-wide focus.

Here are five areas where insurers can focus in 2021 to turn change into business advantage:

Improving distribution, including go to market strategy and sales enablement

Determining where you fit in ecosystems

Finding and retaining talent

Applying a holistic organizational view to refine underwriting

Implementing a flexible infrastructure for alternative models


Distribution is the first issue we are exploring in 2021. Watch this space for reports on other issues coming soon.

Three forces are shaping insurance distribution:

  • the resilience of intermediaries,
  • rising expectations among commercial and individual buyers
  • and the elusiveness of building scale in direct channels.

Yes, these were factors a few years ago too. In fact, carriers built roadmaps to adapt their strategies accordingly. But the COVID-19 pandemic upended those plans, along with many others, by compressing timelines. In a matter of weeks, consumers and businesses began to shun in-person meetings and rely much more heavily on digital tools for research and communication. Their perceptions of risk changed quickly, as did the kind of help they looked for when evaluating insurance products. And while some carriers were able to pivot, many continue to struggle and those multi-year roadmaps now look like wishful thinking.

Explore the full report

Contact us

Matt Adams

Insurance Practice Leader, PwC US

Ellen Walsh

Insurance Advisory Leader, PwC US

Marie Carr

Global Growth Strategy, US Financial Services Practice, PwC US

Jim Quick

Life, Retirement and Group Advisory Leader, PwC US

Scott McMillen

Property and Casualty Advisory Leader, PwC US

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