Although many digital challengers have focused on the direct channel for marketing and distributing their products and services, incumbent insurers continue to account for the largest share of this distribution channel. In part, this reflects their larger share of the insurance market as a whole. However, some providers have avoided partnering with intermediaries altogether, thus relying entirely on the direct channel for selling their products and services. Direct Line, established in 1985, has always avoided third parties.

Listed below are the major milestones in the journey of the D2C in the insurance theme, as identified by GlobalData.

1955 – John Hancock Mutual Life Insurance digitalises 600 megabytes of 2m life insurance policies.

1991 – The World Wide Web (www) was launched.

1995 – eBay is launched, allowing buyers and sellers the chance to interact directly through the internet.

1995 – Amazon starts selling books online, later broadening its product offering.

1998 – Google is launched, reshaping the user experience on the internet.

1999 – Review websites start emerging – initially deja.com, Epinions, and rateitall.com pioneered this space.

2004 – Social networking service Facebook is launched.

2007 – Apple launches the first iPhone – its touch screen interfaces improved the user experience.

2008 – The App Store was launched, initially comprising 500 apps.

2008 – Android Market launches, enabling users to download apps.

2012 – Google Play supersedes Android Market.

3 Things That Will Change the World Today

2013 – Zhong An is founded, becoming China’s first truly digital insurer.

2014 – Number of mobile devices exceeds world population.

2015 – Zhong An receives its first funding round of the equivalent to $893m – this remains the largest single insurtech investment.

2015 – Lemonade is founded, delivering insurance instantaneously and revolutionising the customer experience.

2016 – Lemonade processes the world’s first insurance claim from end-to-end with AI, with no human intervention.

2016 – Health insurance provider Oscar raises $400m in funding.

2016 – Liberty Mutual launches an insurance voice skill on Amazon’s Echo Alexa, becoming the first insurer to develop a voice skill and providing an additional touchpoint to customers.

2017 – The first insurance voice skill becomes available on Google Home, launched by Progressive Insurance.

2017 – Chinese insurer Fubon Property and Casualty agreed to a deal to sell insurance through messenger app WeChat – this is one of the first insurance technology crossovers.

2017 – Affinity insurer The Co-operative became the first insurer to sell policies via Facebook Messenger in the UK.

2018 – Amazon enters the insurance market in India, selling life, health and general insurance products.

2018 – Aviva launches AvivaPlus, offering flexible, on-demand insurance.

This is an edited extract from the Direct to Customer in Insurance – Thematic Research report produced by GlobalData Thematic Research.

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