Blockchain and Smart Contracts for Insurance: Is the Technology Mature Enough?


Blockchain is receiving increasing attention from academy and industry, since it is considered a breakthrough technology that could bring huge benefits to many different sectors. In 2017, Gartner positioned blockchain close to the peak of inflated expectations, acknowledging the enthusiasm for this technology that is now largely discussed by media. In this scenario, the risk to adopt it in the wake of enthusiasm, without objectively judging its actual added value is rather high. Insurance is one the sectors that, among others, started to carefully investigate the possibilities of blockchain. For this specific sector, however, the hype cycle shows that the technology is still in the innovation trigger phase, meaning that the spectrum of possible applications has not been fully explored yet. Insurers, as with many other companies not necessarily active only in the financial sector, are currently requested to make a hard decision, that is, whether to adopt blockchain or not, and they will only know if they were right in 3–5 years. The objective of this paper is to support actors involved in this decision process by illustrating what a blockchain is, analyzing its advantages and disadvantages, as well as discussing several use cases taken from the insurance sector, which could easily be extended to other domains.