- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Insurance in the Platform Economy

According to Doug Grant, partner at, Inc., many of the folks who heard about Amazon in 1994 really thought that Jeff Bezos was chasing shadows. However, the Internet demonstrated  that ‘virtual’ efforts could not only deliver ‘real’ things, they could do so in shorter time frames and with lower costs.

So, when executives engaged with experts at the Executive Forum – “Insurance in the Platform Economy” – in Toronto last week, most skeptics stayed quiet while the majority sought deeper understanding to leverage the new tool sets. And they looked happy.

I’ll highlight some tidbits from a few of the faculty, and what is coming next. For more details, refer to the topic outlines and presenters.

What’s a Platform, Mom? 

We were twice lucky to address this question. First, Denise Garth, SVP, Majesco – who opened the day – has been ahead of the curve in use of technology in the insurance community. And second, Denise can present and discuss the use of the technology with senior executives as well as line experts, without leaning on arcane content.

With this in mind, Denise positioned highlights and examples for full portions of the day.  She focused on three trends in the Platform:

  • Customer,
  • Technology, and
  • Market Boundaries.

These will drive changes along the lines of a generational shift, including:

  1. Digital,
  2. Cloud, and
  3. Disruption.

Research shows that 90% of innovation is critical to support modern insurance.  However, Denise noted that the actual use now is 25%.  She posits that in “find ways to disrupt.”

In addition, Denise sees new underwriting, which will see buyers seeking to share data.  This will require the usage to be continuous at a high level.  New insurance sources – including Amazon, Alibaba, Lemonade – are driving these.

What are Platforms, and how can they be seamless?

Donald Light from Celent focused on two kinds of platforms:

  1. Designed to scale – including focus on growth and innovation, leveraging network effects;
  2. Core system based – assembling the offerings.

The data platform can provide the required applications and technologies.  These typically provide:  indirect access via APIs to a broad set of data sources, analytic tools, use cases, and ability to build, maintain, and grow.

James Barber from Information Builders followed on this, focusing on seamless transitions to the platform.  The result, according to Barber, is a platform that holds data close to the heart.

James summarized three keys to success:

  1. Business imagination
  2. Analytics, and
  3. Business readiness for Data.

There is a starting point….

The number and quality of presenters were excellent and deserve full marks, which won’t fit all in here.  (For the complete faculty, check here). There is one additional speaker, however, who has long, expert exposure to the digital generation – Tim Attia, CEO, Slice Labs Inc.

Tim is a great technologist and a deep insurance thinker.  He also is well-balanced to facilitate the best of the better to keep things both moving and retaining directions.

Tim knows Digital.  He also knows insurance.  And he knows why the two have to be in sync.  At ICEF2019, Attia offered how this could work in one slide:

Old Way

    • 30+ Questions
    • 6+ years of Actuarial and loss history
    • Annual static policies
    • Static pricing
    • Manual underwriting and claims processing
    • People in the process all of the way

New Way

    • Instant
    • No application, No questions
    • Cloud
    • Big Data
    • Real time Signals and Events
    • AI/ML
    • Behavioural psychology
    • Dynamic
    • Predictions

These have been pushed out and a few of the insurance underwriters are testing new approaches.  There are some concerns about heavier reviews, but we are pulling out AI in new places.  Could this be a similar approach?

Regardless, it is another test that could provide new approaches … and more events!

Your thoughts?