Mirroring the success of opening banking, open finance can help customers improve their financial health says price comparison website chief executive

The introduction of open finance will “enable insurers to better assess an individual’s insurance needs” and empower insurance businesses “to solve real customer demand and bring more innovation” to the sector, said Louise O’Shea, chief executive of Confused.com and non-executive director at CFC Underwriting.

Speaking at CFC Underwriting’s Cyber Summit event last month, O’Shea highlighted how she feels the adoption of open finance will benefit the insurance industry.

“The impact of open finance, when insurance data will be shared more freely, is clear when you look at what open banking is enabling today - greater consumer control over data, more engagement with finances, more and better products and, ultimately, better financial health,” she explained.

“Open finance will enable insurers to better assess an individual’s insurance needs and it has got the potential to solve real customer demand and bring more innovation to the insurance sector.”

Furthermore, “artificial intelligence, machine and deep learning and automation will make those businesses that use it - and use it well – more resilient, agile and efficient”, O’Shea noted.

For her, these technologies “can bring about better customer service with shorter response times and better interaction, giving organisations the ability to focus more time and real-life interaction on challenging enquiries and more complex issues”.

Data triangle

In her closing keynote address discussing the role of technology and data in the future of the insurance industry, O’Shea described Confused.com’s approach to data as a triangle.

She explained: “At each point of the triangle is one of the following: people, platform, problem. In the middle of the triangle is data.

“We have lots of data, there’s no question, but do we have the right people with the expertise to rigorously interrogate that data?

“And do those people have the right platform that gives them access and tools to do that analysis and build the models that they need? But also, what problem are they trying to solve? Is it one that is going to help our customers, help our partners and help us?”

Despite this heavy emphasis on data, O’Shea emphasised that “being customer-centric and working in partnership [with insurers and brokers is] critical to success”.

For her, this combination is why data-led Confused.com has seen such growth rates – she believes a customer focused approach to using new data sources can drive real industry change. For example, the price comparison website currently has around 20 million customer accounts, each with a multitude of useful data points.

She continued: “In a world of data-driven insurance, with advances in technology and data disrupting the insurance industry, being customer-centric and working in partnership are critical to success.

“In my world, customers want the right product, at the right price, at the right time. They want to be empowered to make better decisions. They want transparency and clarity. They want to know that if something goes wrong, someone will be there for them.

“But most of all, they want someone to clear up the confusion they feel when faced with a complex, critical decision.”