Insurance-Canada.ca - Where Insurance & Technology Meet

Will Technology Bring a New Insurance Model?

In the early days of my insurance career, an older, wiser colleague told me that the insurance business model was elegant in its simplicity.  It’s “money in and money out, and you take your profit from the float.” Things have changed. A number of analysts are suggesting that technologies are driving fundamental alterations to the… Read more »

Which Came First: The Strategy or the Digital?

It is amazing how the turn of a phrase can quickly put a complex issue issue into perspective. What brought me to my knees around ‘digital strategy’ was taken care of in two sentences that fit nicely into a tweet, with room to spare. Long Day’s Journey Into Misunderstanding … For almost a year, I… Read more »

The Transformation Manifesto

Tomorrow, I will be joined by 500 + of my closest friends to hear what practitioners, analysts, and suppliers suggest will be the impact of technology on the insurance business.  I can’t predict exactly what these experts will be saying at the ICTC2016, but having gone through the background material, there seems to be an… Read more »

The Organizer’s Perk: Being a Fly on the Wall at ICTC2016

Organizing a conference is a lot of work, but it has its perks.   One big one is sitting in on meetings with really smart people talking about present and future challenges and opportunities.  Let me share examples from panels at the 2016 Insurance-Canada.ca Technology Conference. Hit the Road Our friend, Catherine Kargas, from MARCON, has… Read more »

Digital Value Drivers

In my role on the Digital Market Insight team at Guidewire, I spend a lot of time talking to our customers and other insurers all over the world about their digital strategies. It is clear that every insurer is investing in “going digital”. But what is really driving this investment? We ask this because our… Read more »

Do We Define Digital, or Does Digital Define Us?

The ‘Digital Insurer’ is getting a lot of ink in the trade press these days.  Numerous benefits emerge by applying digital to conduct the business of insurance.  But the same construct is also finding its way into the popular press, with less sanguine implications.  Are we facing a circle in need of squaring? Digital is… Read more »

Insurance Going from Evil to Good: Is there an App for That?

Sixty-one years ago tomorrow, Sun Life Insurance took out an advertisement to provide high points of its annual report. In the ad, a box provided commentary, with the heading, “The Miracle of Life Insurance.” While this sounds arcane today, it might be making a reprise in P&C insurance, thanks to Insurance Technology (InsurTech). Fintech is… Read more »

Insurers: Are You on the “Digital Expressway” Wave? (Part 2)

In my last post on this blog, I raised the question of whether insurance is catching the wave that Alvin Toffler described a quarter century ago and making a move onto the digital expressway; I put forward some thoughts on brokers. Today I want to turn to Insurers. Customer focus remains the driver, with a… Read more »

The Transforming Insurer: Competing in a Post-Modern World

Insurers have spent significant time and money updating processes and modernizing core business systems. What happens if modernization is only table stakes? According to leading analysts and practitioners, competitive pressures are increasing, coming from traditional and non-traditional suppliers. Their competitive advantage?  Transforming the enterprise to meet the demands of customers. How we got modern …… Read more »

Brokers: Are You on the “Digital Expressway” Wave?

In his books Future Shock (1970) and The Third Wave (1980), Alvin Toffler noted the rapidity of change and the emergence of the information age. Today we are experiencing technology-enabled change as described back then. Question: Is insurance catching the wave and moving quickly onto the digital expressway? Based on the 2016 Insurance-Canada.ca Technology Awards… Read more »

Where will Standardization Fit in a Flexible Product World?

Standardization has been a holy grail for as long as I have been involved in insurance technology. However, competitive pressures are challenging this goal. While standards are required in parts of the insurance process, these may become deeply buried in technology, allowing flexible implementations. There have been good reasons for adopting standards For example: When… Read more »

Developing the Aviva Ride-Sharing Insurance Coverage: Untying the Customer

Since Aviva announced its new coverage for ride-sharing services, several commentators have suggested that this solves problems for ride-sharing companies such as Uber. But what does it do for Aviva, its customers, and its distributors? The answers are both simple and profound. Tying customers up in knots? Jason Storah, Executive Vice President of Broker Distribution… Read more »

Just in Time, Lean Insurance: Why and How

There is no doubt: we are living in volatile times that are impacting products, services, and processes. Technology is breaking down barriers and re-defining business models. Many sectors are adopting and embracing change. However, leading analysts believes that insurance has been an outlier. But there are opportunities to change that. What are the changes and… Read more »

2016 – Digital, Analytics, and Mother Earth will not be Ignored

There’s a lot going on, and when the present is so busy it’s hard to look long-term. That said, I believe there are three trends we will not be able to ignore in 2016:  Digital, Analytics, and Mother Earth. I want to share my thoughts with you in print now, and in person later. Digital… Read more »

Insurance: A Reversal of the Disruptor Role?

My nomination for most overused word for 2015 is ‘disruption’ (along with its cousin, ‘Uberize’) with respect to insurance.  I believe this word is used too casually, given that innovation is inherent in the insurance construct.  Could we be creating a reversal of roles?  I’d be interested in your thoughts. Of course, disruption is real … The… Read more »

Unleashing a $10,000 FinTech Hack: Who Are the Winners?

A few weeks ago, I attended my first hackathon.  As a somewhat jaded grey head, I went in with a bag full of expectations.   Some of these expectations were validated and others were corrected.  Most significantly, there were expectations that I didn’t have that were exceeded. Why a hackathon? The hackathon – named “Unleash Toronto:… Read more »

Climate Change From Here and There: Some Canary, Some Coal Mine

When it comes to climate change, insurers have been consistent leaders in applying their trade to benefit their clients, other stakeholders, and the public in general. A recent Intact announcement demonstrates this in spades. However, there are others on the sharp edge of this phenomenon that we would do well to know for the future…. Read more »

Selective Innovation: Reason for Celebration or Contradiction in Terms?

Criticizing insurers for their lack of innovation and technical progress has been a sport for at least 3 decades.  The most recent focuses on ‘digital transformation’.  The reality is that many insurers are very innovative, but not always focused on organizational transformation.  As an industry, are we missing the boat, or floating as best we… Read more »

Whose Biz? uBiz!

Small commercial business is highly competitive.   While the majority of the business continues to be written by brokers, direct writers and direct marketers are making inroads, primarily because of their ability to process the business quickly and efficiently.  Recently Gore Mutual announced an offering which provides efficiency, effectiveness, and the value of an independent broker…. Read more »

7 Essential Technologies for Engaging Insurance Customers

You got the email. “We need to improve our customer experience. Our conversion and retention numbers are down. What can you do?” In fact, you got several emails and briefings from marketing and line-of-business leaders, and you were copied on a complaint from a key producer citing frustrated policyholders. You know what it will take,… Read more »

The Two-Edged Sword of Technology: Cutting Your Path to the Future

New technology options offer a rich environment of functionality combined with an engaging user experience. This combination can produce intended and unintended consequences. We believe the winners will be those that can plan for the unknown as well as the known. We will showcase strategies and tactics at #ICTC2016. Here are a few examples. Insurance… Read more »

Cyber Risk: Opportunities and Threats for Insurers

Uptake for cyber insurance has been challenging, according to the brokers I know who specialize in the product. However, recent reports say that this is turning  around, and it seems rates and premiums are rising as well. Question: Can the industry respond to turn these into opportunities? The turning tide According to a recent Wells… Read more »

What role will insurance play in the Sharing Economy Theatre?

The “sharing economy” (code for disruptive services such as Airbnb and Uber) is catching on with high consumer acceptance.  Governments are setting a stage which will allow consumers easy access to these new services.  Insurance will play a key role as well.  Our question is:  Will we be wearing a white hat or black hat?… Read more »

Peer-to-Peer Insurance: Something Old, Something New

At a recent social event, a GP physician asked me what business I was in. When I told him insurance and technology, his eyes widened and he asked an unexpected question: “What do you know about peer-to-peer insurance?” I told him it was becoming a hot topic in my world, and he surprised me again,… Read more »

360° Customer View: You Can Look, but Can You Touch?

Like the lives of so many celebrities and reality-show families whose relationships and daily interactions are splashed across our screens, insurers’ views of their customers present the same frustrating dilemma: sometimes they want to try to reach into the customers’ world to help influence decisions. But, just like on TV, it seems today’s insurers can… Read more »

Platforms and Insurance: Where the Bulldozer Meets the Road

In a 1989 speech to brokers, a bank executive offered an analogy to explain changes he saw to distribution: “If you see a bulldozer paving a road, heading towards you, you need to decide fairly quickly, ‘Do I want to be part of the bulldozer, or be part of the road?’” Twenty-five years later,  a… Read more »

Benchmark’s Experience with CARF Accreditation: Long Day’s Journey into Enlightenment

As a leading Independent Medical Examiner, Benchmark is committed to meet or exceed standards for quality and service. To this end, we committed to complete the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) accreditation process. The experience was enlightening and we thought we would share it with our community. What’s CARF? CARF’s mission is to… Read more »

Tags: ,

Innovation in Insurance: A Cautious Imperative?

The innovation discussion is permeating the insurance industry. But beyond the talk, data suggest that, as an industry, we would prefer to be cautious in innovation development and deployment. Some would say  that “cautious” and “innovation” don’t fit in the same sentence. But perhaps this is just the way of insurance. I would appreciate your… Read more »

Tags: , ,

Can IT Learn to Embrace Sales? Would Sales Let IT Get That Close?

In my first insurance job, I supported agents, one of whom refused to put ‘Insurance Agent’ on his cards. He said, “People will think I just sell insurance.”  A top producer heard this, and said, “Are you afraid you might actually sell some?” This reminds me of a challenge facing insurance IT and Sales today…. Read more »

Start-ups, Incubators and Insurance: A Look Inside the DMZ

“Building a start-up is like having your first child,” says Rajeev Kugan, a new father and co-founder of an emerging start-up in the insurance technology (InsTech) space called ClientDesk. I am the other co-founder. Together, we are introducing something new which, we believe, will disrupt the insurance industry. As entrepreneurs in the start-up space, being… Read more »

Are you Competing with a Robot to Keep Your Job?

In your current job, have you ever asked yourself, “Could I be replaced by a machine?” If not, you might want to pay attention to advances in robotics. There is risk, and there is hope.  However, hope seems to require embracing the inevitable incursion of machine intelligence on our intellectual turf. Who is safe, who… Read more »

Latest Stakeholder in Major Systems Projects? The Consumer

Before final sign-off on major projects, senior executives usually extract promises (accompanied by career-limiting threats) from the project manager or executive sponsor to the effect that the company will not have to repeat the exercise for many years. What would happen if the response was “Actually, we’ll have to check with our policyholders first”? Becoming… Read more »

The New Work Paradigm: Stairway to Heaven or Race to the Bottom?

Back in June, I confessed that, as a technology professional, I had been ‘economical’ with the truth about the impact new technology would have on employees.  Some anlaytsts suggest we are finding a path to a better future, but others see a slippery slope to an unpleasantly warmer place. I’d appreciate your thoughts. Transforming work?… Read more »

Counting on the Future: More Than All Our Fingers and Toes

The title of the recent Insurance-Canada Executive Forum (ICEF2015) was “Emerging Threats and Opportunities.”  In hindsight, we might have been well served by including a less subtle sub-title; something like: “Learn to Use Analytics or Die.” Question for you: What do you think is the state of our industry in deploying and understanding analytics? A… Read more »

When a Keynote Lasts All Day: Sharon Ludlow @ ICEF2015

A keynote address is intended to set the tone for a conference. This was exactly the case at the 2015 Insurance-Canada Executive Forum (ICEF2015). Sharon Ludlow’s remarks to kick off the day became the outline for the expert faculty to follow. We’ll provide samples here and will add further notes from ICEF2015 on another day. It… Read more »

Should IT Risks Be Part of Corporate Governance?

According to a well-respected risk management and governance consultant, “IT risk” shouldn’t exist at the corporate governance level.  This seems to track with the philosophy that IT serves business needs.  However, prohibiting standalone IT elements from the board agenda entirely could be counter-productive in several critical scenarios.  I’d appreciate your thoughts here. Is “IT Risk”… Read more »

Is the Telematics Plateau Coming Early?

We’ve followed Telematics/Usage-Based Insurance (UBI) for some time now.  There has been significant progress, and there is an assumption that it will have a 25% market share over time. Of late, however, some folks are suggesting that UBI could plateau early just as other forces start to shape the next generation of automobile insurance. Usage-Based… Read more »

Can we Crack the Insurance Shopper’s Genome With Half the DNA Sequence?

Experts suggest that the consumer digital journey is similar in complexity to genome sequencing.  If that’s true,  why do segments of the insurance community feel that they can get all of the information they require with only half of the data that’s available? We’d like your thoughts on this. Earlier this month, two McKinsey & Company experts… Read more »

Threats, Opportunities & The Future of Insurance

We normally write about technology’s impact on the process of insurance. However, respected analysts and practitioners suggest that the cause / effect relationship between technology and the business of insurance is blurring. We cite examples below and are developing a program which will explore this further at the Insurance-Canada.ca Executive Forum (ICEF2015) on August 31,… Read more »

Supporting Data-First Enterprises: A Prelude to Distinctive Analytics

In one of his recent blog posts, Big Data: On Carts, Horses, Lamborghinis, and Executives, Insurance-Canada.ca’s Patrick Vice highlights the mixed points of views in various research reports and industry articles on the usage of big data in the insurance.  He poses the question: where are we now, is it ugly, is it hard –… Read more »

A Midsummer Musing on Millennials, Boomers, Technology, and Insurance

It is hard to underestimate the impact that ‘Millennials’ (born between 1980 and 2000) are having on business generally, and marketing specifically.  Every day we see exhortations such as,  “Millennials are a major target … Reaching them via digital is critical.” Interestingly, we might already know a fair bit about this demographic from personal experience…. Read more »

Only in Insurance: Can Analog be Accommodated in Digital?

Becoming digital is the holy grail these days.  Insurers look with envy at the likes of Uber and Amazon, which use digital to completely disrupt complex business by introducing digital platforms that suck up consumers with the elegance of  a finely tuned Dyson.  So why, then, is digital taking so long to catch on with… Read more »

Sponsors: Need a Plan B for Core Systems Modernization Projects?

A recent report from SMA provides an excellent outline of best practices for implementing modern core systems. As a bonus, and without explicitly saying so, the report also provides a safety net for the executive who has been appointed the project sponsor and who might find, at some point, that all is not going tickety-boo…. Read more »

A Different Side of Disruption: What Uber Could Learn from Insurers

It seems that “disruption” has been the word of the day for four years or more.   Some questions come to mind.  Do progressive, strategic managers see being disruptive as the sine qua non for success?  Also, is confrontation integral to being disruptive? I’d like to make a case for a collaboration as a balance… Read more »

Big Data: On Carts, Horses, Lamborghinis, and Executives

Big Data is a hot insurance topic these days. The capability to use Big Data could even be a fundamental anchor for future profitability. But early forays are suggesting that there are big risks around getting lost in the process. Executives need to create a way to put the cart and horse in the right order…. Read more »

MGAs Walking the Specialty Line

Managing General Agents are getting attention of late.  A recent study finds that the MGA channel is growing faster in commercial market production than the commercial segment generally.  It points to specialty lines as a key driver. An international MGA association cites the need for MGAs to leverage analytics / modern technology to maintain the success. Last,… Read more »

Why should insurers be interested in bitcoin? (Hint: It’s not about the money)

Bitcoin hit many business users’ radar screens in a quadrant labelled “Don’t even think about it.” It looked like a complex product, developed by geeks, that served the interests of  international criminals. We were in this camp until we learned that the best part of bitcoin doesn’t involve financial transactions and may solve some big… Read more »

Defining Insurance & Distribution 2025

What will insurance product distribution look like in a decade? I know three things: (1) it will look very different than it does now; (2) it will have high levels of customer service at the centre; and (3) I am going to listen carefully to some very smart people at ICEF2015 on August 31st. We… Read more »

CAA Insurance and ACE PRS: Future in the Present Tense

When we polish our crystal ball, some future trends for insurance and technology become obvious.  Recent developments in the Canadian P&C space demonstrate that some participants are transforming the future into the present at an impressive pace. We sat down with two such insurers recently, and thought you’d be interested in their thoughts. The tip… Read more »

If Suppliers Don’t Think Insurance is Innovative, Do We Care?

About two or three times a month, I have a technology supplier look at me, lower her voice, and ask, “is anyone in P&C doing anything innovative with technology?” Because of the frequency, I’ve had the opportunity to reflect on whether this is important. I’ll give you my answer, if I can get your thoughts…. Read more »