Mobility ecosystems: striving towards a seamless interface for customers
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Differing mobility needs
In Karlskoga, Sweden, a review of diversity initiatives found a clear bias in the snow-clearing plan towards car drivers. In the event of snowfall, major roads and traffic thoroughfares were ploughed first, with pedestrian routes and bicycle lanes being left until the end1. With men being more likely to drive and women more likely to use public transport, this meant that the burden of obstructed routes was disproportionately likely to affect women.
There are differences between genders not just in the type of transport but in the reason for the trip. The World Bank have recognized that men and women have different mobility patterns. In general, women engage in more non-work-related travel, such as running household errands and are more likely to travel with children and elders. They travel shorter distances within a more restricted geographical area and also spend more of their income on transport.2Other factors, such as race and socioeconomic status are also indicators of mobility behavior. Socioeconomic status can be causal, in that people from lower socio-economic backgrounds have less disposable income to spend on leisure activities or the transport to get them there, but it can also be somewhat resultative; less choice in where you live means less choice in the job market.
In order to effectively plan transport needs for increasingly complex urban environments, a plan has to be representative of everyone. Historically, data sets across industries have been biased towards certain subsections of a society and not representative of the whole. This highlights the reason why ecosystems are so integral to the mobility industry; they collect data that can inform fairer planning and transport decisions that can improve economic output and keep citizens healthier and happier.
Urbanization and mobility
Increased urbanization across the world means that there is a growing pressure on existing infrastructure. Cities are covering bigger geographical areas – known as urban sprawl – and are increasingly cosmopolitan; people are moving from rural to urban areas at a rate that is leading to almost a complete reverse in population spatial distribution and with migration, the cities that they are moving to are not always the closest to them geographically. New technology means that there are new types of transport; electric cars and trains, ride sharing platforms, and a willingness to economize means multi- modal journeys are becoming increasingly common. Apps like Citimapper in London offer several journey suggestions and allow you to pick your preference based on cost, journey time, or least amount of modal changes. As insurers, it is important that we have an understanding of people, their preferences and their behavior in order to stay relevant. When choosing which platforms to add our services to or to integrate with, data on travel mode preference at the country level is very useful. We are able to appropriately focus efforts into the areas that will have the most impact for our personal or business customers. Of 7,500 consumers surveyed by Oliver Wyman, 84% indicated a general willingness to pay for smart mobility services, with respondents across geographies being particularly willing to pay for financial/ insurance services.3
Knowing that people are willing to pay, combined with the knowledge of dominant mobility patterns in specific cities or regions, means we can know and better service our customers. In London for example, it would be particularly useful to offer service interruption insurance for public transport journeys, or to approach the providers of transport services to offer an integrated solution to customers.
Figure 1: Dominant mobility patterns in selected cities
Source: Swiss Re Institute, based on the 2019 Deloitte City Mobility Index
The relationship between consumers and insurance
It is important that insurers have an understanding of people, their preferences and their behavior in order to stay relevant. The future role that insurers play in these ecosystems will depend on two factors; how well they know their customers and business design.
Consumers at the moment see insurance as a required necessity, not a service they choose; often, insurance is required by law such as home insurance for a mortgage or car insurance to legally drive vehicles on the road. To change this perception amongst consumers and to incorporate the changing business lines, insurers need to offer more value to their customers and offer an integrated user experience. In car insurance, for example, insurance is currently a service that users have to search out separately, often using form-intensive websites like price comparison services.
In the future, insurance will be already plugged in or naturally integrated into a variety of mobility ecosystems from point of purchase thereby removing some of the pain points users currently experience (filling in forms and personal details to receive quotes). In Figure 2 we show the current consumer journey compared to the reimagined version we could offer based on these mobility ecosystems.
Figure 2: Schematic showing the current, future, and comprehensive state of mobility offerings
Source: Swiss Re Institute
Four scenarios for the advancement of mobility
Figure 3: Four scenarios for the advancement of mobility
Source: Swiss Re Institute
Figure 3 shows new mobility business models that are emerging. Imagine a journey to work in scenario one. Individually researching, organizing and travelling on five separate modes of transport during the day, when you're interacting with several different providers, is a headache. This is time intensive and also awkward, which impacts how the user experiences the entire service. In the scenario two, with aggregated/merged mobility players, we see limited interaction between providers, with true cooperation and scaling hindered by other players like regulators.
In scenario three, we have a mobility journey supported by an aggregator mobility player. This scenario shows a provider aligning themselves with regional public transport systems. The final scenario four shows a smart assistant, who brings all providers together and handles all services on marketplaces, from travel planning to payments. Imagine the transformation from scenario one to four to your own commute; which is more likely to inspire customer loyalty, repeated service and positive user reviews.
Insurers will have to show some imagination in this version of the future. The old insurance models with their sequential and rather 'hard wired' value chains and annual touchpoints with customers will be a thing of the past. In a more demanding, flexible, and highly 'de-coupled' ecosystem insurance proposition, understanding the needs of the customer and tailoring or 're-coupling' specific services to their needs is paramount. Changing the perception of insurance from a necessity required by law to a service provider with a vested interest in improving your mobility experience or health, for example, will lead to a better experience for the user and a more satisfied client base for the provider.
Figure 4: Schematic showing de-coupling and re-coupling of the insurance value chain.
Source: Swiss Re Institute
For a more detailed look at these factors and more, see our publication on mobility ecosystems. In this installment of the ecosystems publication series, we consider how the changing world is impacting customer need, how ecosystems are springing up to meet these needs and how insurers can position themselves to stay relevant.
 Caroline Criado Perez (2019) "Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men". Harry N. Abrams.
 K Gonzalez 2018), "Improving women’s mobility: it’s not just about the quality of buses". Worldbank.org, (21 December 2018, http://blogs.worldbank.org/transport/improving-women-s-mobility-it-s-not-just-about-quality-buses
 Oliver Wyman (2018). "Mobility 2040 - The Quest for Smart Mobility".