Filed Under:Agent Broker, Agency Technology

Nationwide hires new CIO to oversee digital transformation

The company sets aside more than $100 million to InsurTech initiatives.

Nationwide is making changes to accommodate self driving cars and smart homes, and to  being more artificial intelligence-driven services and processes to its customers. (Photo: iStock)
Nationwide is making changes to accommodate self driving cars and smart homes, and to being more artificial intelligence-driven services and processes to its customers. (Photo: iStock)

Nationwide said this week that it’s making changes to its C-suite as well as investing significant dollars in services intended to keep the incumbent insurer competitive in an increasingly digital economy.

See also: When worlds collide: Insurers and InsurTech

Shifting priorities

"Nationwide's core mission is to deliver value for our members by protecting what’s important to them," CEO Steve Rasmussen said in an Aug. 16 press release. "This organizational change allows us to focus on emerging businesses and invest in startups that align to that mission. At the same time, we want to anticipate the future needs of our members and improve current processes and offerings to remain best in class."

To that end, Terrance Williams, Nationwide’s chief marketing officer since 2015, was recently named President, Emerging Businesses.

"With technology and consumer preferences changing exponentially, we need to stay on top of trends in the marketplace and develop solutions that will grow our business and serve our members in the best possible ways," Williams said. "As we approach our centennial anniversary in 2026, we expect to look like a different kind of company, a company that excels in its core businesses while building the platform and foundation for the future, driven by external forces and internal ingenuity."

Nationwide was founded in 1926 as the Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. The company is based in Columbus, Ohio. With more than than 31,000 employees, Nationwide is among the largest insurance and financial services companies in the U.S. 

The company also said it has hired Scott Sanchez as Chief Innovation Officer. Sanchez previously served as the vice president of innovation at First Data in Atlanta. In his new position, Sanchez will spearhead venture capital, business innovation and incubation.

Related: The 'famous five': solving the InsurTech mystery

Changing with the world around us

Nationwide also has stepped up its investment in venture capital initiatives — to the tune of $100 million — that make its services more "customer-centric." This will include meeting customer needs in "novel and digital ways," and getting ever savvier about cybersecurity.

To that end, Nationwide has already launched Guaranteed Retirement Income from NationwideAmazon Alexa integration for SmartRide, and a strategic partnership with Sure to digitally distribute renter’s insurance. The company also started Nationwide Ventures in early 2016 to invest in startup companies that are transforming the insurance and financial services industry. Nationwide Ventures has made six investments to date, including blooomInsurifyNext Insurance, and Sure.

Nationwide also opened an innovation laboratory called Refinery 191. The company describes this as a business incubator aimed at launching even more InsurTech and fintech partnerships.


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