The Future of Insurance Podcast – Chetan Kandhari

Chief Innovation & Digital Officer, Nationwide

Season 5, Episode 24, April 2, 2024

Guest Bio

As Chief Innovation and Digital Officer, Chetan is accountable for leading the company’s digital vision and maturing our enterprise digital capabilities and expertise while creating new customer-centric products and services for members and partners.

Chetan is a visionary leader who has repeatedly developed high performing teams to work towards a common vision and purpose. During his 18-year career at Nationwide, Chetan successfully delivered several of the industry’s largest transformations, with more than $1B in investment towards creating single core platforms for Policy, Claims, Customer and Data.

In his tenure as the leader of digital and innovation, Chetan and his teams have advanced Nationwide’s strategy through digitization of customer journeys and the development of a robust innovation portfolio. Leading with a people-first philosophy, Chetan has fostered a culture of experimentation and collaboration, guided by a strong commitment to customer-centricity and focus on technology based innovation. His ability to anticipate and embrace change has accelerated innovation efforts and amplified key business outcomes for Nationwide.

Chetan holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from The Ohio State University, a Master of Science in Information Systems from Miami University, and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from Muskingum University.

Highlights from the Show

  • Chetan runs the enterprise innovation and digital area, which is here to help focus on what’s coming in the future
  • They think about the meta trends impacting insurance, insureds and insurers like autonomous driving, climate change, GenAI and more
    • Can we get people priced appropriately? Can we get the right products people need to protect them?
  • Nationwide thinks about three things when looking at how to structure your innovation efforts so it’s not just a hobby but something that has actual tangible benefit
    • Culture – what is the real culture, under the surface and in practice as the unofficial way you actually get things done
    • Are you here to be a catalyst for the existing businesses or to create totally new revenue streams for the business
      • Nationwide’s innovation efforts are generally 80% focused on their existing P&C and Life businesses and 20% on new revenue streams or ideas
        • How do you solve for changing dynamics in existing products?
    • What is the talent you have and are attracting
  • As an industry, there are several things that hold us back, including the standard answers (regulation, it’s not a sexy industry), but also things like what we sell not being easily understood / being complex; because the cost of product is unknown at the time of sale, it’s very risky to do something new in the space because you won’t know if it was a big mistake until it’s been far too long to do anything about it; there’s a misnomer in the idea of innovation being about something completely new but rather something disruptive
    • Uber was a major disruption to the taxi industry, but it wasn’t a completely new idea for someone to get a ride from someone else
    • The cost of acquisition has been extremely high, so there’s been attempts at disrupting distribution
  • Gen AI is something Nationwide has been looking at, and doing some real, tangible things with, mainly focused on how to enable their people to be materially more empathetic much faster
    • This is about front office things like customer service and the work of agents, augmenting their people to be able to provide empathy rather than just transactions
    • Back off applications are in classical things like HR, operations, etc
    • The democratization of the technology create scale economics making the deployment of GenAI much easier and drives far better economics of deployment
    • Nationwide has over 200 projects in their pipeline, 20 they’re working on actively, and several in market already
  • Horizon 3 outlook is very much about how connected things impact what Nationwide does
    • Connected exposures (IoT, mobility, etc) and the impact on the nature of risk (and therefore the way you cover and price it) will change
      • For example, how does GenAI change the development cycles in many industries, like healthcare, and what does that mean for life expectancy, the productive years we have in our lives, etc
      • Insurance is about scale economics, so how does migration and population growth and decline impact the scale of risk spreading and transfer in the face of changing exposures
  • Chetan says we need to decide who we are, first movers, fast followers or laggards
    • We all know what happens to laggards, but decide if you want to be a fast follower or a first mover

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Thank you to our sponsor

This episode is brought to you by The Future of Insurance book series, part of the Future of Insurance thought leadership series ( from Bryan Falchuk.

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