“Home-made Innovation”

Christopher Meyer-Mölleringhof, Head of Innovation at LV 1871, strongly believes in strengthening in-house innovation

InsurTech Hub Munich partner corporation LV 1871 (Lebensversicherung von 1871 a.G.)is one of Germany’s ten largest providers of life, pension and disability insurance. 500 employees work at its headquarter in Munich, one of them being Head of Innovation Christopher Meyer-Mölleringhof. “We need to up the ante in internal innovation efforts”, he explains. 

Christopher Meyer-Mölleringhof

Christopher, life, pension and disability insurance often get overlooked when we talk about disruption in the industry…

Undeservedly so! Though life insurance might be more complex and requiring more of a long-term perspective, we are facing the same challenges as any other field in insurance. Customer behavior is changing rapidly: People increasingly manage every aspect of their life on their smartphone. We need to better cater to this and become part of their daily routines. 

Talking of customer behavior: How do you reach younger target groups?

The younger demographic obviously isn’t enthusiastic about life insurance or any other offerings from our industry. However, we see that more and more people in their twenties start investing, they are well aware that plainly relying on the state pension plans won’t get them far. It is a huge opportunity for life insurers to connect early with this target group and show them which part we can play on their financial journey.

To be successful, I believe that we need to enhance the usability of our digital portfolio and make it fun to use. The customer experience Apple delivers is a great inspiration. If you can translate this to the insurance industry – and I strongly believe that it is possible – you will be a real game-changer!

In our network we have seen an enormous rise in startup-corporate cooperations in the past months. Additionally, international media incessantly report about large investments in established scale-ups.

True, as a partner of InsurTech Hub Munich, LV 1871 massively profits from the access to fresh ideas and exciting entrepreneurial characters. Through the network we have met mental health startup Instahelp and started a collab in 2020, just to give you an example.

Though, I strongly believe that in a mid-term perspective, insurers have to up the ante in internal innovation efforts. 

Are there any initiatives at LV 1871 already in existence?

At LV 1871 I defined an innovation process that helps us identify strategically relevant ideas and bring them to market-readiness. ‘CoachMeNetto’, a digital platform and service provider for financial consultants was our first advance and it is doing very well. And only recently we launched a new fully digital product, the “Probezeit-Versicherung” (insurance for qualifying period). Two of our software developers came up with this idea – as I said, internal innovation is really accelerating! 

What do you feel are the biggest restraints in these efforts?

One needs to have the freedom to pivot while developing a product. We experiment, do testing close to customer needs and then sometimes fold an idea, just like a startup would do it. To allow for questioning oneself and establishing a failure culture, that’s a tough journey for any established company. But it’s a journey worth embarking on!

Take our ‘Probezeit-Versicherung’: Initially we imagined the core customer group to be experienced professionals with a family, a risk adverse target group for whom career changes really make an impact. Soon – in our dedicated testing process – we realized that younger people, more prone to switching occupations, appreciate having a safety net just as much. So we decided upon broadening the targeting for this product.

The development of both ‘CoachMeNetto’ and ‘Probezeit-Versicherung’ have given me the confidence that even as an established insurer we are able to swiftly implement innovative ideas,  owing to our flexible IT landscape. It’s only that we have to leave our comfort zone more often and relate to customer needs yet unsolved. 

Christopher Meyer-Mölleringhof, 32, holds a bachelor degree in business administration from WHU and a master degree in communication from IE University. Before joining LV 1871 as Head of Innovation in 2018, Christopher worked as management consultant, consulting large companies on strategy and innovation management. 

Interview: Reinhard Saller / Markus Walter