Aug 18, 2016

Ensuring Innovation



Milos Prokic

Covéa transforms to ‘insure usage, not users’

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French mutual insurance company Covéa is an enterprise in which everything operates at industrial scale. With 26,000 employees earning $19 billion in annual revenue, there is no other option.

“[And] at such scale, we need repeatable processes to make things stick,” said Christophe de Cacqueray, Covéa’s head of innovation lab.

Covéa’s three main brands — MAAF, MAA, and GMF — run the gamut, covering property, liability, health, life, and reinsurance businesses, opening endless potential for innovation within the organization.

The rise of the sharing and collaborative economy, however, is changing the game for insurance providers. With services such as Uber, BlaBlaCar and Airbnb, providers must now focus on commercially based sharing of assets, rather than insuring a person’s ownership of a predefined asset.

“We must insure usage and not users,” said Antoine Ermeneux, a member of the executive committee and Covéa’s head of marketing, strategy, and transformation.

In such a shifting environment, populated with increasingly “usage-based” insurance, Covéa’s quest for innovation is varied and far-reaching — and potentially complicated.

“A structured approach to innovation is [therefore] essential to let us anchor innovation best practice and mindset into Covéa’s DNA,” Ermeneux said.

Laying the foundation for that structure, however, was a task for which Covéa did not possess a blueprint. Furthermore, did such a blueprint even exist? At the outset, a concept as nebulous as “innovation” does not seem as though it involves a process concrete enough to support one.

“We need to be assisted in our approach to innovation and challenged in our thinking,” said Nathalie Bohere, head of Covéa Enterprise.

As the “ of design thinking,” Amsterdam-based NEXT, which is transforming innovation into fully mobile-first process, was able to provide that assistance. The NEXT software allows managers and employees on all levels of Covéa to crack innovation’s code, doing away with the preconceived notion that innovation is art, rather than science.

Armed with this knowledge, Covéa was able to cement innovation into a daily practice, from a project’s initial insights to a functional, fully fledged venture.

“Collaborne [now NEXT] offers us a unique opportunity to hardwire a proven enterprise-wide innovation process into the organization and ensure in a systematic way that the best innovations are concepted, prototyped, and scaled,” de Cacqueray said.

With Collaborne [now NEXT], Ermeneux added, Covéa is supporting innovation by embedding the best practices of design thinking into the organization. Innovation at Covéa could occur at anytime, anywhere, on any level of the organization.

That freedom opened expansive horizons of opportunities regarding both present and future innovations. These horizons are able to be explored simultaneously, as they build upon one another to strengthen and clarify Covéa’s — and, by proxy, its customers’ — ever-changing needs.

“Now is the time to innovate. Now is the time to invest. Now is the time to get up and drive for transformation and change,” Ermeneux said.

“Successfully shifting from user-based to usage-based insurance will have transformative effects on Covéa,” said Moodi Mahmoudi, NEXT CEO. “This shift also challenges the fundamentals of the insurance industry as a whole, disrupting a 200-year-old model. We’re proud to be part of such an impactful ambition that shall redefine the way we protect ourselves and our futures.”

Contributing editor: Adam Kohut