- Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Claims Innovation, Social Business, and Competitive Advantage

As economic stresses, including the soft market, continue for insurance practitioners, leading organizations are looking for innovation in customer service to provide competitive advantages.  Claims offers unique prospects, according to one leading expert.  We feel this is supported by other trends and should be carefully examined. In a recent post in Insurance & Technology, Michael… Read more »

Legacy Systems Modernization – Celent Survey Provides A Dose of Cultured Reality

Just when we thought there was nothing but good things to say about legacy systems modernization, along comes a report by Celent’s Craig Weber based on a recent survey of industry participants.  It’s a needed dose of reality, we think.  Here’s some of the headline information from the preliminary results (thanks, Craig, for sharing them)…. Read more »

Mobile Apps Take the Lead

It seems that all those folks you see pushing buttons on mobile devices are doing more – much more – than texting friends or tweeting what they had for lunch.  And there are implications and opportunities for insurers and brokers. Flurry Analytics,  which provides accurate, real time data to developers about how consumers use their… Read more »

Brokers and Social Media – Is the Breakthrough Coming?

The buzz with social media continues to grow louder in the business and trade press.  But a big question that remains is:  How will this impact Canadian insurance generally and insurance distribution specifically.  There is some evidence that while insurance brokers are not far along the adoption path,  a breakthrough may be in sight as… Read more »

Corporate Culture and Social Media

There is increasing evidence that use of social media has the capability to improve customer service, enhance marketing, and even streamline internal processes for insurers and agents/brokers.  So why isn’t the insurance industry beating a path to the new media?  Perhaps we have a culture clash. Karen Furtado, partner at Strategy Meets Action (SMA). Furtado… Read more »

Managing ‘Big Data’ Requires Hardware, Software, and Greyware

Recent articles in the trade and business press suggest that the latest buzzword in the Data Management community – Big Data – has big implications for insurance executives.  Hardware and software are required.  But the real key asset – grey matter – might be in short supply. Wikipedia defines Big Data as: “a term applied… Read more »

Social Business and Insurance – A Natural Fit?

IBM is marshaling significant resource to articulate a vision of ‘Social Business’.  While this is intended to span different industries,  the approach seems well-suited to address the many demands being made on the traditional insurance business model (and the tools and techniques associated with it).  We will break this out in a several posts over… Read more »

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Democratizing through Modern Technology: Solutions for the Large at Heart

A very wise mentor of mine once noted that insurance is a very egalitarian enterprise. There are few barriers to entry for any organization – small, start up, or whatever – that has a real vision of either an under-served market segment or a better processing method.  It now seems that vendors of technology are… Read more »

Keys to Competitiveness: Innovation and Data Anytime, Anywhere

As the soft market in virtually all parts of the industry continues, being competitive has gone from being a platitude that’s important to long-term growth to a principle that’s critical to day-to-day survival.  We recently saw two articles which gave clear direction to help IT understand its role in competitive positioning, and IT Management understand… Read more »

Websites or Agents? Why Not Both!

An old debate has resurfaced with the rise of social media … Is this a new channel that replaces agents and brokers?  As with most good things, the answer is both yes and no.  New US research suggests smart insurers and agents/brokers would do well to exploit the middle ground. Since the beginning of the… Read more »

Pick a Channel, Target an Interest, Cultivate Customers

Brokers who  starting down the road to use social media for marketing may be making two critical errors:  (1) Trying to sell insurance (2) on too many channels. New data from Bredin Business Information (quoted in eMarketer) suggests that small business owners (and this is what most insurance brokers are) tend to cast nets wide… Read more »

The Message from ACORD 2011: Overload is Just the Beginning

If there’s one takeaway from ACORD 2012, it seems to be this:  the amount of data flooding in the door is only going to increase, so prepare your strategy as best you can, and hold on tight. The statistics that continue to pour out of social business and related technologies are mind-numbing:  Average number of… Read more »

Twitter Co-Founder’s Assumptions and 5 Word Synopsis of the Pig Story

Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter, gave the key note opening presentation to the annual ACORD Conference in San Diego on May 23 (here’s a peek behind the scenes).  Included in a great stream of conscious style presentation were 7 assumptions he asks all Twtter employees to make. We can change the world, build the business,… Read more »


Cure To Claims Data Overload – Information on Demand

Go ahead, admit it, we won’t tell anyone:  You can’t handle the information.  It’s ok, we can’t either, and this has become the real challenge to business.  And, we can tell you:  There is a solution – it’s called Business Intelligence.  And It’s showing its use in Claims. First, what’s the problem.  The overwhelming amount… Read more »

Pioneers in Social Media and Insurance

There’s an old saying that pioneers get the arrows, and settlers get the land.  This seems to be the attitude among many in the insurance industry with regards to social media.   It’s only been in the last 6 months that we’ve started to some real initiatives by agents, brokers, and insurers.  While the momentum… Read more »

Watch for Speedbumps on the Road to Location-based Services

Clearly,  there are opportunities for new location based services, including Telematics, or Pay-as-You-Drive for insurers.  However, there are cautions as well.  A recent study by Whitehorse, reported in  eMarketer, provides a reality check. We’ve blogged about practitioners in large insurance companies that believe that location will be a major trend for insurers.  But location is… Read more »

What (or Whose) Legacy Needs Replacing?

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before:  “This is the year of legacy system replacement in the industry.”  Ok, old news.  But we are finally getting realistic appraisals of why some legacy technologies persist, and the reasons may be more analog and carbon-based than digital and silicon-based. Since the 1990s, pundits have been predicting… Read more »

Lost in Translation: Agent/Broker Interface Across the 49th Parallel

It is interesting to listen to brokers in Canada and independent agents in the US talk with passion about the need for cooperation with insurance carriers to realize ‘realtime interface’.  Both groups tend to speak the same words in English, but mean vastly different things. In the US, ‘Realtime’ has been formally defined as: “the… Read more »

Telematics: A 2 Year Overnight Sensation

We had an interesting discussion recently with a senior IT executive from a top 10 Canadian P&C insurer on trends.  His feeling was that Telematics, the technology that allows driving behaviour to be recorded, uploaded to carriers, and analyzed, was among the top new technologies to watch.  His organization was just starting to investigate it,… Read more »

Canadian Insurers Going SmartPhone Mobile: Will the Customer Follow?

Canadian P&C insurers are taking tentative steps to support mobile technology through smart phones.  But will the customer follow?  And how will brokers react? In 2010, State Farm Canada introduced an App that allowed insureds using iPhones, Android phones, and, subsequently, iPads to perform a variety of functions including accessing account information, filing claims, and… Read more »

Location, Location, Location

It is becoming clear that location is the next big dimension for social media users and developers.  Marketers seem to have clear thoughts about opportunities.  So where is the insurance community on this? According to trend watcher, SocialMediaExaminer, since location-based check-in using mobile devices  (wherein you and your friends can keep track of all your… Read more »

Is Canada Behind in Social Media Use?

Lately, one of the more frequent questions we hear seems to be: “Are we Canadians lagging in the use of social media for business?”  A couple of recent items suggest that we probably are, in business generally, and insurance specifically. The Weekend Globe and Mail (16 Apr) carried an article:  ‘Canadian Job Seekers Lag in… Read more »

Collaboration Roadmap – Implications for Distribution

Several analysts at the 2011 Insurance Canada Technology Conference noted a trend towards collaboration on data and documents within the insurance community.  See our post on some of these.  A recently published article in CMS Wire by Joe Shepley, a strategy consulting professional, provides a roadmap that could be used by insurers, brokers,  claims professionals… Read more »

Data: Where Marketing and IT Meet

Marketing-IT relationships have historically been challenging.   Marketers generally want to understand new trends and opportunities, and take this curiosity to the world of technology.  IT professionals usually share this curiosity, but when it comes to enterprise computing, frequently like to err on the side of stability and caution.  At the extreme, IT can view… Read more »

Are Tablets Just New Tools, Or Change Agents?

There has been debate in the Insurance IT community which may be resolved before it actually builds up steam.  The central question now is, “Will Tablets be an alternative to laptop computer devices.”  The real questions might be, “Who is going to support our producers using Tablets and What will we do with all those… Read more »

New Uses For Data Standards: The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be

We recently posted on the continuing discussion on (versus implementation of) data standards within the independent broker/agent – carrier community.  It may be that at the end of the day, we will realize that the development of data standards failed to meet the original stated purpose in a timely fashion, but turned out to be… Read more »

The Future of Insurance: If Not Technology, Then What?

Is the insurance industry really immune from the impact of technology?  Or will the collaborative nature of Web 2.0 and Social Media force a new reality on the community? Ara Trembly, has been preaching the importance of technology to the insurance community for years.  However, in a recent post, reviewing a report from Deloitte, even… Read more »

Telematics: Service Providers Lead a Path that Insurers Could Follow

We have blogged in the past about some of the isolated examples of insurers using Telematics – use of technology to monitor vehicles – (e.g.,  see comments on Commercial Underwriting) as well as on-going debate by some insurers as to the utility of the approach.  A recent posting by Jamie Yoder, principal at PwC’s Diamond… Read more »

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Broker/Carrier Technology Relationships: Ships in the Night, or All Row Together

In a recent editorial in PropertyCasualty360, Ellen Carney, a senior analyst with Forrester, asked ‘In dealing with carriers, do agents feel like they are on their own when it comes to technology issues?’  This is a fundamental question, still relevant since it was first posed over 40 years ago. ACORD in the US has just… Read more »

Key Competitive Elements: Mixing Claims Service and Technology

In his role of senior executive for claim quality, customer and policyholder service, reserving, expenses and regulatory compliance,   Mike Lancashire’s leverages his background in claims and his commitment to technology to compete with much larger insurers. According to a recent article in Insurance & Technology, Lancashire, who is Senior Vice President of Claims and… Read more »

Standardize or Customize? SaaS May Influence the Decision.

There is a long standing debate in technology implementation. Should we shape the technology to fit the user or force the user to fit the technology?  The movement towards Software as a Service (SaaS) may force the decision. We all like freedom to do what we want with technology. This is what a lot of… Read more »

Age and Gender in Underwriting: The Politics of Neutrality

A recent ruling by the European Court of Justice suggests that insurers may be forced to take age and gender out of the underwriting process.  While seemingly taking  the high ground, similar initiatives have been eviscerated by the scalpel of politics.  And Canadian technology professionals were collateral damage in the last attempt at this in… Read more »

Key to Social Media for Insurers: The Customer Controls the Conversation

In her well received presentation at the 2011 Insurance-Canada Technology Conference, Technologies that Make a Difference, Christina Colby, Vice President, Global Business Intelligence Leader for Insurance, Capgemini, gave attendees common sense advice on how to take advantage of Social Media.  In a nutshell, the advice is:  Lose Control and Prosper. Colby noted that the daily… Read more »

IT Spending and Employment: A Change in the Calculus?

Is increasing IT putting downward pressure on employment? We recently commented on the rise in IT budgets in 2010 and the possibility that the ‘new’ money might be spent outside the IT departments with BPO, cloud technologies, and the like.  Joe McKendrick in Insurance Networking News looks at the same budget trend and wonders if… Read more »

Predictive Modeling Gaining Momentum with Insurers

There is increasing evidence that P&C insurers in the US and Canada are seeking, and finding benefits with the use of predictive analytics and modeling in underwriting, and claims. National Underwriter On-line reported that a recent Towers Watson survey found that 90% of US insurers surveyed indicated that the use of predictive analytics enhanced rate… Read more »

Canadian Brokers and Carriers: Technology Connects and Disconnects

Two leading analysts at the 2011 Insurance-Canada Technology Conference produced new, original research showing that Canadian Brokers and Carriers have important common interests with technology.  There are, however, significant disconnects, which may offer opportunities for selected partners. Kimberly Harris-Ferrante, Vice President and Distinguished Analyst for Gartner spoke on “Insurance Trends in Canada:  Hot Topics and… Read more »

2011 Insurance-Canada Technology Conference a Success; the Legacy is New Information

The 2011 Insurance-Canada Technology Conference was held Monday, February 28, 2011 at the Sheraton Centre in Downtown Toronto.  Over 400 delegates registered, creating a new record for the conference.  New studies were released by several analyts. The sponsors provided details on new products and services, and the speaker provided new information.  The insurance-Canada team is… Read more »

Insurance in ‘Jeopardy’? What does Watson think?

Jamie Bisker, who has spoken several times to Insurance-Canada conferences (most recently in 2010), is putting forward some compelling thoughts on how natural-language question and answer (QA) systems – such as the IBM Watson system – which recently successfully competed on Jeopardy – could ‘change the insurance landscape’. Bisker, who serves as the global segment… Read more »

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2011 Insurance-Canada Technology Conference – Almost Ready for the Reveal

With one week left to go, the team feel they will be ready to ‘reveal’ the 9th annual insurance-technology conference to what appears to be a record number of attendees on February 28, 2011. The conference theme – Business Results Through Informed Action – is carried through out the programme by a high-caliber faculty,… Read more »

Will IT be Spending the New Insurance-IT Budget?

The brutal competition in the P&C market may be driving increased spending on technology.  But this could be a two-edged sword for in-house insurance technology professionals as BPO and cloud based services offer alternative strategies. As published in, a recent report by Celent, titled “IT Spending in Financial Services: A Global Perspective”, noted that… Read more »

Getting Started with Social Media: Be a good Listener

Social Media can be intimidating.  The language is unfamiliar, and the variations and options seem endless.  And  it seems there is a steep, and  time-consuming learning curve.  A recent article from Matt Marko, Marketing Process Manager for Progressive Insurance offers some clear (and time-saving) tips. For example, here’s  Matt ‘s suggested starting point for time… Read more »


Cloud Computing – Real Opportunities, Real Risks, Real Insurance

There is little doubt that Cloud Computing presents real opportunities.  But there are also real risks, and real risk mitigation strategies, which can include insurance. As we’ve noted recently in this space, organizations of all sizes and shapes (including insurers),  are moving to cloud computing to reduce fixed costs, and allow greater flexibility.  And there… Read more »

Social Media and Claims Investigations

Claims professionals may have much to gain from using social media, but must take care with the tactics used. Two years ago, at an insurance association session on social media, the presenter asked if anyone was using social media for business.  A  half dozen people (out of 50 or so) raised their hands.  One was… Read more »

Insurer-Broker Technology Collaboration Beyond Transactions – New Canadian Research Study

Brokers and insurers collaborate in varying degrees to acquire, serve, and retain Canadian property & casualty customers. While the industry continues to improve broker-insurer transaction efficiencies, a potential new area of collaboration is the sharing of information and insights gained through customer analytics. Based on a new SMA research study in Canada, “Analytics to Enhance… Read more »

Social Media: Marriage of Marketing and Customer Service

There is a lot of talk about the power of social media in selling insurance.  But, as was the case with the emergence of the Internet in the mid 1990s, the real power (for good or ill) may be in marketing through customer service. The holy grail of marketing is getting the customer to recommend… Read more »

Win-Win: Commercial Fleet Underwiting with Telematics

We blogged recently on competitive uses of predictive analytics,and noted that ‘Telematics,’ the use of location technology to automatically track automobile usage, was gaining some favour for some auto underwriting.  There is now evidence that this will extend beyond obvious uses in personal lines to more sophisticated applications in commercial  fleet insurance. The neat spin… Read more »

BI/Analytics: More Complex, More Mobile, More Important

For the  folks who have been able to dismiss the significance of business intelligence/predictive analytics, and relegate its use to actuaries and computer geeks,  there is growing evidence that this is a bad idea which is only going to get worse. Bob Evans, Editorial Director at Information Week, puts out an annual ‘Top 10’ list… Read more »

Business Driven Modern Technology – Removing the Fog from Cloud Computing

It has become fashionable in some insurance circles to relegate Cloud Computing to a technology in search of a solution.  This might be premature dismissal of an approach which could offer significant business benefits. In a recent blog post, Celent’s Ben Moreland says that people who focus solely on the technology miss the point.  While… Read more »

Insurer On-line Marketing Opportunities High, Use Low – Accenture

In an interview with eMarketer, Michael Costonis, Executive Director, Insurance North America for Accenture said that the state of insurance with respect on-line marketing “is probably slightly behind banking, which is really behind the rest of the world in terms of online sophistication of marketing.” According to Costonis, this is in spite of consumer trends… Read more »

Math lesson: Is there ROI for Core Systems Replacement?

A sharp IT professional recently argued with his colleagues that there is no cost-based return on investment argument that favours replacement for core insurance administration systems.  His contention was that there are lots of good reasons, but none that are cheaper than maintaining the old beast. This sounded just contrarian enough that it might be… Read more »