Canadian Underwriter

Forget about blockchain and AI. Get your website up first.

November 30, 2018   by Jason Contant

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Thinking about dabbling in blockchain or artificial intelligence (AI) at your managing general agency (MGA)? It’s probably best to focus on taking smaller steps first.

“There’s a whole set of first steps that are being overlooked,” said Jeff McCann, CEO of Vancouver-based Digital MGA Marketplace Ltd., which helps brokers with automation solutions. “And that’s like, where is your website at? Do you have a mobile-friendly website? Do you have a website, period?”

A lot of dialogue in the insurance industry gets generated around “buzzwords” like AI and blockchain, but it’s best to go back to basics, McCann said Tuesday at’s MGA Technology Symposium in Toronto.

“Do you have a website? And can a broker find your phone number or a contact email on that website?” he asked. “What is the very basic requirements for an MGA or an insurance business to be out there to be accessible? Do your underwriters have LinkedIn so they can be contacted? If someone’s considering joining your organization, can they do research about your employer brand? Can they learn about what your organization stands for, your expertise? Do they want to join this company if they can’t find it on the internet, if they can’t find you on LinkedIn?”

Going back to basics also applies from an operational standpoint. “Have your data in a system… so that it becomes portable,” advised Märtin Kosk, commercial manager at Insly, a London, UK-based software provider for MGAs, insurers and brokers. “It used to be that often your policy details or consumer details are stored in folders, but if you take that and put it into a system where it becomes portable, then that already adds some value to it.”

A lot of these solutions are web-based, so an MGA doesn’t need to store files locally, but can have it online where every team member can access them. “A few years ago, cloud was still a relatively new thing for the insurance industry, so a lot of companies had no cloud function. That’s obviously something that’s been changing,” Kosk said.

With data at the heart of the industry’s overall infrastructure, an early step that needs to be addressed is how it’s being collected and stored, whether that’s cloud-based or taken from PDF application forms or emails.

“At the beginning, I think the key is starting to collect that data in a meaningful way to be used for more interesting insights,” McCann said. “I think there’s later things that we can do that are very, very interesting around what to do with that data. Are there insights and learnings that we can create from it?”

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