Between mergers and politics, insurance took center stage in the 2016.

As we near the year’s end and begin preparing for the road ahead, it is clear that this spotlight on insurance will continue to shine in 2017.

Next year, the insurance market can expect even more challenges and opportunities, particularly in health care, all of which will greatly influence the way insurtech approaches consumer and business pain points.

Before ringing in the New Year, we’ve looked ahead to the top 3 insurtech trends to expect in 2017.

No. 1: Year of the Smart Shopper

Consumers today are more empowered than ever before. New technologies give consumers access to an unlimited supply of shopping information, and many are discovering creative ways of interacting with retailers. Today, 8 out of every 10 shoppers’ purchasing decisions around the world are informed by a digital device, indicating that consumers are searching beyond traditional means to be more informed.

In 2017, we will see this trend transcend industries, primarily in health care, an industry that has been moving toward a consumer-centric model of decision-making and a retail-oriented way of doing business. This is especially true in the world of health insurance, as consumer expectations of their health plan providers have changed. Consumers are beginning to realize that they can expect the same level of satisfaction and responsiveness in insurance that they could out of any other industry. As a result, insurance consumers will continue to shop around until their demands are met.

See also: 7 consumer coverage gaps you could fill today

No. 2: Rise of digital insurance technologies

Digital technologies will have an outsized impact on the health insurance industry in 2017. The shift to a hyper-competitive marketplace means that all insurance stakeholders must improve the consumer’s digital experience to keep consumers coming back to their services. In health insurance, simple and modern technologies that make the complicated process of selecting coverage transparent, trustworthy and efficient will dominate the marketplace next year.

Innovative companies that develop integrated digital capabilities will open up access to a large subset of consumers, particularly millennials and young consumers who rely heavily on online and social tools to make purchasing decisions. Sixty-eight percent of millennials actively seek a shopping experience that is integrated and seamless, regardless of the channel. Engaging digital experiences are no longer the exception; they are the norm.

These technologies will also continue to transform the health insurance investment landscape. According to Modern Healthcare, heath-insurer and insurance technology startups raised more than $1.2 billion in venture funding in 2015, more than double the $570 million that was raised in 2014. This number is expected to further rise in 2017.

No. 3: Resurgence of the broker

2017 also will be the year of the broker. For small businesses and small business owners who are unsure about whether their employees should remain on a group plan or move to the individual marketplace, brokers are an essential piece of this complex puzzle. For such decisions, brokers are a source of expertise and a resource to simplify the decision-making process. Already, almost 75 percent of small businesses rely on brokers to help them evaluate their health insurance options. This will be further reinforced by the tools and technologies that will become more readily available to brokers in 2017, allowing brokers to better serve their client needs.

Given the anticipated regulatory change in health insurance, particularly around a partial repeal of the ACA under Trump, brokers will become an even more integral part of the consumer’s decision-making process. In all times of uncertainty  in insurance or otherwise  advisors and thought leaders have an opportunity to guide consumers. In 2017, we anticipate that brokers will not only continue to remain central to insurance services, but grow their opportunities as the go-to experts in a time of uncertainty.

See also:

Live from NAILBA: digital marketing best practices

Here’s why digital life insurance sales are growing

Harnessing the power of digital: Are life insurers up to the task?

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