March 30, 2020 by Greg Meckbach
Slice Labs Inc., an insurtech with locations in Toronto and Ottawa, is adapting to the pandemic by helping insurers develop new products from people’s homes.
“We are actively engaged in getting new products into the market – going full speed ahead,” said Lore Farrell, head of product management at Slice Labs, in an interview Monday.
In addition to a research centre in Ottawa, New York City-based Slice Labs has a launch studio in Toronto’s financial district. The Toronto studio is where The Co-operators Group Ltd. developed Duuo, a product launched in 2018 that uses Slice Labs’ Insurance Cloud Services to let home-share customers buy coverage online.
Under normal conditions, Slice Labs uses what it calls a “hackathon” approach to work with carriers in its Toronto launch studio on new products. Despite the moniker, new product development does not involve actually hacking into computers. Instead, it is loosely based on the concept of developers trying to solve a problem in 24 hours. Instead of taking months or years to develop new products, Slice Labs aims to quickly define how a product will be priced, how the customer interacts with the insurer, and how a claim is filed.
But the current state of emergency in Ontario means only essential businesses can remain open and the government is encouraging people to leave home only when necessary. This has prompted the insurtech to launch Slice from Home.
“Slice from Home is just to communicate that we are a distributed company,” Emily Mertz, vice president of marketing for Slice Labs, told Canadian Underwriter Monday. “We are still operating just as we were before, but now given the pandemic, we are offering virtual hack-a-thons, so no one has to travel anywhere.”
Farrell said there are no special IT requirements for the carrier partners, other than an Internet connection to hook up to Slice Labs’ systems from a home.
“Unfortunately, this pandemic has been the litmus test for how carriers are with digital capabilities,” said Mertz. “They are going to realize where they have some gaps and where they need some help.”
A major trend is “on demand” insurance, where clients buy coverage when they need it – not necessarily a one-year policy that stays on place for the entire year, suggested Farrell.
“We want to reinforce the digital nature of products. I think that we are going to see more and more people wanting to do things in a digital manner whenever they can,” added Farrell.