March 1, 2017 by Greg Meckbach, Associate Editor
There are many ways in which technology can help insurers, but they need to be able to respond quickly and not be so “old school,” panelists at a recent conference told industry professionals.
“I think there is lots of room for innovation” in the insurance industry, suggested Alice Keung, chief information officer of Economical Insurance, at the Insurance-Canada.ca Technology Conference Tuesday.
Some examples, include wearable technology and the Internet of Things, Keung said.
“While there continue to be challenges to the industry because of the changing needs of the customer and also technology is moving so fast, there are ways for us to leverage that for our advantage so long as we continue to respond in a very fast manner,” added Keung, during a panel titled InsurTech and MatureTech: Blending New and Old.
The panel was moderated by Mark Breading, a partner with Strategy Meets Action.
A co-panelist was Craig Arnatt, chief executive officer of Vancouver-based Shephard Ashmore Insurance, which started InsureCert Systems Inc., an e-commerce site for buying insurance. One type of insurance available through InsureCert is special event insurance for organizers who rent property.
Shephard Ashmore Insurance has a program with the City of Vancouver, for people who need liability insurance when renting city property, he suggested.
“When we developed this ecommerce site and we had the opportunity to do event insurance, one of the opportunities was going to a carrier and saying, ‘Hey we have this great platform, the city wants it, we need to role it out,’ but it was really difficult to find a carrier that would actually underwrite it because we didn’t have the history. We didn’t have the track record.”
Arnatt suggested that entertainment and event insurance policies often do not make money.
“We have a lot of weekend warriors come into our door on Friday afternoons, they are looking for camera rentals, special events, weddings, these kinds of things,” he said. “They are traditionally low premium, and so we went looking for software that could manage these policies for us because it’s basically a money loser when you look at them. We didn’t find anything, so we built something from the ground up ourselves. The platform can quote, bind and issue certificates.”
However, it “took a lot of convincing” for carriers to write policies, he suggested.
“I think that insurance companies should really embrace the notion of let’s be a little more receptive to the better mousetrap that’s out there and not be so old school,” said Arnatt. “There are all these opportunities and they just need to adapt a little bit quicker to make those decisions – just to look at rather than who is providing it, look at the risk as a whole.”
InsureCert is also available for other brokers, he added.
The conference was held at the Allstream Centre, the former automotive building at the Canadian National Exhibition Grounds.
Also speaking on the panel was Jeanne Merola, senior vice president of operations at Munich Re’s Hartford Steam Boiler subsidiary.
The Internet of Things “opens up the whole opportunity for insurance as a service,” Merola said. “You are being able to have that engagement with your customer, provide services to help the internet of things proliferate throughout the world and I think that big data – the knowledge that you are going to get from collecting the sensor data coming out of the internet of things – it’s either about retention or monetizing it. It’s about keeping your business alive and moving and going forward”
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