By: Nina Jais | Associate Director at FSG | January 27th, 2017

Insuring Shared Value Roundtable - January 19, 2017, Davos

At its core, insurance is an inherently social business: its purpose is to protect individual or institutional customers from adverse events. Furthermore, insurance is – much like banking – an enabler of virtually all other sectors. This also implies that in order to simultaneously create value for business and society, insurers often need to activate a whole ecosystem of complementary stakeholders, e.g. to create more resilient and insurable cities or prevent ill-health in target population groups. As we kick off new research on shared value strategies in insurance, we met with executives from different industries – insurance, health, nutrition, agriculture – during the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos to provide guidance on the why, what and how of ‘Insuring Shared Value’.

Here are our top take-aways:


Derek Yach from the Vitality Institute and Ramana James from IAG, cornerstone funders of the research effort, explained why the field should focus on shared value as a North Star: It helps navigating current challenges that range from technology disruption and insurtech startup entrants to ever-increasing regulation and higher losses from weather-related catastrophes.

A shared value lens can help us to surface the big societal needs, bring more value to the customer and unlock new growth and differentiation opportunities” said Ramana and predicted a general shift “from insurance to assurance”. Derek pointed out the low trust of the general public in insurance and said “It is high time that we show that we can bring real benefit to society, that we can do more than even government”.


So what are the shared value strategies and how can we tell them apart from insurance business as usual? At their core, they have to be about closing the protection gap for the underserved and about going beyond protection to preventing risks in the first place (see graphic below). The needs extend far beyond new and more affordable products. Other important gaps include education for better uptake of insurance and incentives for risk-reducing behaviors, be that at the individual, community, company or government level. In any case, the financials have to work for insurers, as this is not about philanthropy but about core business, and some companies have already proven that: The Discovery insurance “Vitality” program doubles down on changing individual behavior through incentives for fitness and healthy eating, reducing risk-adjusted hospitalization costs as much as 30%, a winning program that is franchised worldwide.

A further important lever that insurance companies can pull is the way in which they invest their >$55 trillion assets under management. Shared value investment strategies can work in different asset classes, from real estate and private equity to active stock picking of other companies that follow shared value strategies and that ideally have a connection to the ecosystems that insurers try to change in their premium-writing business, be that healthy food, better infrastructure, or new health tech.


How can new research be most helpful to move the field towards more interlocked value creation for business and society? Attending experts pointed out three ways:

First, creation of Shared Value Insurance Principles that define opportunities and limits and give insurers a guideline for how to start and deepen their shared value work.

Second, summary of the best case studies, with proof points for the shared value business case.

Third and most importantly, description of specific opportunity spaces, such as community resilience, longevity & savings (WHealth), or smallholder farmer livelihoods. The goal is to not only describe these specific stakeholder ecosystems, but to bring representatives together and start co-creating solutions. The next milestone for such in-person meetings is the Shared Value Leadership Summit in New York City, 9-10 May 2017, and we hope you can be part of it.

We are grateful for the guidance provided and look forward to exploring these issues in our research work. Please share your reflections and best examples with us, and join us in co-creating shared value insurance solutions!

Insuring Shared Value Roundtable Attendees