RiskWrite 4.0: an insurance product builder’s perspective

RiskWrite’s product build capabilities have been considerably extended in version 4.0, allowing more complex insurance products to be developed, and with more features to help support the quotation process.  This significantly extends the scope of products our carriers and MGAs can build and assists their brokers with distribution via a greatly enhanced user experience.  The following are just 3 examples of the many new features I can use:

  • Tables allow repeating data sets to be captured for a product, for example, multi-vehicle or other multi-asset based products.  Tables can be configured to display in a number of different ways, and tables can contain other tables to ‘n’ levels, e.g. a Vehicles table can contain a table for vehicle modifications.
  • Action buttons and hyperlinks can be embedded in a product’s question set, e.g. to perform an address lookup or display a Key Facts document as part of the quote process.
  • Dynamic fields allow real-time calculation on-screen as part of the quote process.  This can be used for indicative premium calculation based on answers given by an underwriter or broker user.

Top 10 insurance stories of 2013

It’s official, Christmas adverts are upon us! The year is not done yet but I still found myself looking back over 2013 at what could be deemed UK Insurance’s top stories. Here is my pick:

  • Guess whose back? The newly appointed Chairman and CEO of Endurance, the renowned John Charman has already increased the share price simply by showing up! A market scholar says; “Their support [for him] is causing other multi-billion players to say: ‘Maybe we haven’t articulated a ballsy enough agenda’.”
    –Source Insurance Insider
  • “Amazing that even in a bumper year like 2012, 27 out of 92 Lloyd’s syndicates didn’t make any underwriting profit. Most were small…”
    –Source Mark Geoghegan, Editor, Insurance Insider
  • Dubbed ‘controversial’ by the insurance media, Berkshire Hathaway has struck deals to access Lloyd’s via facility – so far agreements are held with Willis and Aon – a trend that threatens free competition?… watch this space…
  • AJG continue to take over the world. Well, Giles, Belmont International and Barbon Insurance Commercial & Property in 2013, following 6 acquisitions in 2012.
    –Source AJG press releases
  • With so much M&A activity it’s no wonder that the value of European insurer mergers and acquisitions over the first half of 2013 were 1.6bn, the highest for 2 years
    Source Insurance Times, October edition
  • Ageas, AXA and RSA continued to produce Core Operating Ratios above 100% for commercial lines. Is commercial the new motor?
    –Source Insurance Age, March 2013 edition
  • There have been 33,445 complaints against top insurers to the Financial Ombudsman Service about general insurance since the start of 2011…
    – Source Insurance Times, September 2013 edition
  • The FSA became the FCA which was, at the time, anticlimactic. Despite 95% of the staff remaining the same they’ve insisted they will act differently and their publicity supports this (assessing staff bonus schemes, enforcing fines etc). The regulation panel at the Xchanging London Market conference seemed impressed to date with the FCA and PRA … another tbc?
  • Complaints about terms in insurance policies have risen by three quarters over the past five years. Nearly half of all complaints about unfair contract terms (UCTs) relate to insurance policies, according to data released from the FCA
    – Source Insurance Times, September
  • Three of the top UK broker networks bring in around 500 million pounds EACH in revenue; Brokerbility, Broker Network and Willis Networks
    –  Source Insurance Times, July edition

Any I’ve missed?

Top 10 Lloyd’s, Coverholder & London Market quotes of the last year

Novae recently published their ‘Looking forward’ industry survey where they interviewed senior level influencers in the insurance industry to gauge their present and prospective analysis. It got me thinking, as I remember listening to Lloyd’s CEO Richard Ward present at the Xchanging London Market conference last year. Richard highlighted findings from that year’s annual PWC CEO Survey of insurance CEO’s finding that:

‘Nearly half of Insurance CEOs believe that the economy will continue to get worse over the next 12 months.’ Yet the report also found ‘90% are confident about improving their company’s revenues over the next 12 months’ (2012)

Compare that to this year and optimism still stands (despite austerity’s stronghold):

2013 saw ‘39% of Insurance CEOs are very confident about their ability to increase revenue over the next 12 months, and a further 49% are somewhat confident.’

Are you as confident in your organisation’s success? What has the industry been saying over the past year about the market and what will shape profit now and in the future? And most importantly, what are your competitors hearing and acting upon?

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Quotes

“Lloyd’s should continue to innovate and focus on product development and new lines and innovate and keep it close to business. And they should seek to resist the homogenisation of all syndicates.”
Novae ‘Looking Forward’ industry survey – February 2013

“The benefits of moving from a paper dominated community into the electronic age are manifold; speed, transparency, the development within each insurer and broker of KPI’s, the opportunity to better articulate and differentiate the value of performance, communication. The London subscription market will always have as its corner stone face-to-face negotiation – but as a practical matter technology provides a magnificent medium for better, quicker more auditable communication”
Barnabas Hurst Bannister, Chair of the London Market Group, Xchanging London Market Conference – September 2012

“It’s an interesting change from a few years ago, when it’s fair to say people were turning their noses up at delegating authority, giving the pen away. Now there is an acceptance that it’s the way to get good quality, high-volume, low-value business.”
Peter Montanaro, Head of Delegated Authorities, Lloyd’s, MGAA – April 2012

‘’It is imperative you get multi channel distribution correct, understand the relative importance of each channel and be intuitive to the future purchasing decisions of your customers – as well as investing time and energy in a unique proposition that adds genuine value and therefore provides longevity through, beyond the market cycle…’’
Dan Martin, Head of UK Regional Development, Catlin Underwriting Agencies, Sabrefish MGA event (formerly Salmon) – September 2012

“Technology is becoming part of the decision making process when people select a broker, MGA or underwriter as a partner”
Peter Montanaro, Head of Delegated Authorities, Lloyd’s, Sabrefish Insurance event (formally Salmon) – May 2012

“The UK is the leading exporter of financial services across the globe. The UK insurance industry is the largest in Europe and third largest in the world. The London insurance market is the most sophisticated insurance market on the planet”
Steve Hearn, Chairman & CEO, Willis Global, Xchanging London Market Conference – September 2012  

“The infrastructure is here in London, the talent is here, the subscription market is here, and brokers like it. Lloyd’s is more secure than it has ever been. Investors understand Lloyd’s now.”
Novae ‘Looking Forward’ industry survey – February 2013

 “Nexus Group (are) on course to become the largest independent managing general agency (MGA) in the London Market.”
Intelligent Insurer – March 2013

 “The underwriter who delegates ill-advisedly to a bad MGA has nobody to blame but himself. They should look at themselves because they gave their pen away. Somebody or something persuaded them to enter into that arrangement. I never blamed a broker for broking bad business to me. I only ever blamed myself for writing it.”
Reg Brown, Chairman, MGAA, Insurance Day – July 2012

 “If you have an MGA, as a broker or underwriter, you hold much more information about the nook that you write and it means you can work closer with insurers to ensure their profitability and enhanced cover for your clients. It is a relationship that a business of our size needs with insurers. Gone are the days where you just go in there and negotiate on commission.”
Robert Organ, Chief Financial Officer, Bluefin, Insurance Times – March 2013

LMG Forum: 10 tips for E-endorsements and Lloyd’s touch tables – a solution to ‘ping-ponging’?

Salmon was pleased to sponsor the Endorsement Manager of the Month awards at the London Market Group Forum on 26th July at the Willis Building in London. Congratulations to the winners – Ropner Insurance Services and Chubb.

The awards were presented by Christopher Croft, LMG Secretariat who also gave an update on modernisation. Chris attributed the fall in E-endorsements in June to the Jubilee celebrations, noting that the July figures have already ‘oustripped June volumes’.

Next up was Hayley Spink, from the LMG  Endorsements Group who shared good practice tips from brokers, carriers and MGAs who have implemented E-endorsements, including:

  1. Having a strong visible senior sponsor.
  2. Having access to good quality management information.
  3. Setting targets,and including these in underwriters’ or brokers’ personal objectives.
  4. Communicating internally.
  5. Having champions within the underwriting or broking team.
  6. Seeking and sharing feedback.
  7. Sharing the Clause wording internally and with the client each time a  risk is being negotiated or renewed.
  8. Talking to peers at other companies and sharing good practice.
  9. ‘Hand holding’ when the company first goes online to ensure the first endorsements go smoothly.
  10. Setting up internal competition between teams.

Paul Willoughby, Project Manager in Market Development at Lloyd’s concluded the morning’s proceedings on the topic of future technology. He talked about various market development initiatives, including the collaboration project.

Paul provided some background to this by summarising the process for the lifecycle of a risk as Preparation, Negotiation and Processing. He commented that in the Lloyd’s market the traditional face-to-face negotiation model can be very efficient.  However, he then went on to describe intriguing-sounding practices like ‘ping-ponging’ that actually make the negotiation less efficient. Fortunately, he explained that ‘ping-ponging’ was the repeated sending of a contract back and forth between underwriter and broker for many small changes.

Lastly, he shared feedback from the recent interactive ‘touch table’ experiment in the Lloyd’s coffeeshop. Paul said he was shocked by the 90% positive feedback from market practitioners.  He saw this type of technology as supporting the traditional Lloyd’s face-to-face business model but improving speed by giving underwriters and brokers access to everything they needed in one place. There are more details here.

All in all, an enjoyable and informative start to a Thursday.  You can  register here for the next LMG Forum on 23rd August.

Download the slides here

In a troubled global economy, how are brokers and underwriters responding to the threats and opportunities in 2012?

On 22nd May 2012 senior executives from the likes of Novae, Axis, Chartis, Hiscox, Markel, Mitsui, Torus, Liberty, Marsh, Cooper Gay, and Allied World Insurance attended an Executive Briefing on the theme of ‘In a troubled global economy, how are brokers and underwriters responding to the threats and opportunities in 2012?’.

Feedback from attendees was very positive so I thought I’d summarise a few of the key points here.  If you want to read more about RiskWrite, Salmon’s multi channel insurance software here.

Peter Montanaro, Head of Delegated Authorities at Lloyd’s addressed the question of  ”The number of MGAs has grown rapidly in the last two years – is this the quickest route to leveraging global opportunities?”

Peter started by saying ‘No they haven’t and yes, so thank you very much’, proceeding to mock leave the podium. Luckily for us he was joking, and returned to go on ‘I don’t know maybe the number of MGAs have grown, but in Lloyd’s our numbers have stayed stable.’  Peter was challenging the common perception of rapid growth of MGAs and coverholders and shared the losses they’ve experienced as well as the growth; “Since 2007 the total number of coverholders has gone up by 275, but only by 31 in the last 2 years”. He acknowledged the growth and market presence of the ‘coverholder model’ but emphasised Lloyd’s growth rate is steady, with losses.

Peter then gave examples of what Lloyd’s reps thought when asked  whether coverholders are ‘the quickest route to leveraging global opportunities’ in their territories. The Italian rep said MGAs represent the best gateway to the market through technology, good market access and efficiency. By contrast, the German rep, thought it may be the quickest route but questioned the sustainability, profit long term and quality.

“I think at the moment automation is still a choice for each stakeholder but it will become a necessity’’

Peter recounted a scenario when an Hawaiian coverholder had been approved by Lloyd’s and told him they were going to have a party, a bemused Peter remarked on their excitability only to discover they had been ‘waiting’ a year and a half to be approved. The Lloyd’s Performance Management Directorate (PMD) is committed to the market as Lloyd’s turn approvals round in five weeks as long as they’ve received the necessary documents – it turned out the application had been sat with the broker all that time. Peter emphasised their punctuality and flexibility on a case by case basis; welcoming feedback on the compliance questions Lloyd’s ask on MGA/coverholder applications.

The role of technology as a competitive tool emerged as Peter emphasised the need for automation; how it is still a choice in the current market but soon will be a necessity as technology is becoming part of the decision making process when people select a broker, MGA or underwriter as a partner.

 

Simon Wilson, Director of International Development at Markel tackled ‘Distribution strategy for specialty insurers”

Simon marvelled at the unique nature of London market geography compared to its international counterparts. When working for Lloyd’s Asia he recalled his surprise when during a business trip he not only had to walk what he thought would be a ‘a couple of blocks’ to visit the Canadian coverholder; but travel 45 minutes. BY CAR.

Simon mapped the levels of risk complexity and premium size associated with different parts of the Insurance market (left hand slide). Simon noted that mass market retailers (low size and low complexity risks), motor, home owner and personal lines for example, are attempting to move into ever more complex lines.

He positions ‘classic London market play’ as high complexity and high size risks that are coming under pressure from two new groups – regional wholesale markets and specialist SME suppliers. Not only is the ‘classic London play’ coming under pressure from different types of insurance companies but international ‘regional hubs’ too are posing a threat, as they are underwriting more and more of the  large, complex risks in Singapore, Miami and Zurich.

Simon perceives segregating parts of your business into these four categories may, operationally, be more fruitful.  If you try to sell wholesale products through an international network of offices, for example, you may meet unnecessary internal discrepancies.

Simon emphasised this competitive landscape as ‘never still’ and questioned the avoidance of silos, where they are beneficial; however it seemed the stand out trend was a desire to increase the complexity of risks underwritten therefore increasing the mark up per policy.

 

 

Simon shared his experience of financing small MGAs and coverholders with niche propositions, particular products to particular markets, and that their fixed cost base is usually a minimum of two million dollars.  When operating these global entity MGAs and coverholders in a different territory he suggested that they need to write to a 35% loss ratio just to break even.

Simon drew similarities between supermarket retailers and underwriters in making a profit; considering overheads and getting the most out of suppliers.

For me, these were the key points from the event:

  • MGAs are the quickest route to market if effective systems and processes are in place
  • Speed should not be the only focus for coverholders; quality and sustainability should also be considered
  • The BRICS countries present huge growth and penetration opportunities in life, car and home insurance
  • Companies that have invested in developing in house systems can be opposed to new technologies and change
  • The traditional method of spreadsheets doesn’t do it anymore; systems are needed to cope with the demands of modern regulation

Salmon to develop pan-European underwriting platform

We have just announced a deal with DUAL International (part of the Hyperion Insurance Group), to develop and implement a new pan-European web-based underwriting platform.

Having successfully completed an initial strategic consulting phase, Salmon will now configure and implement RiskWrite™ to support DUAL International’s multi-lingual and multi-company operations in Spain, Germany and Italy, on a single instance of the web- based solution.

To read more about the project and Dual, as well as see our other clients in the Insurance sector click here.

A Changed World – 6 Key Issues for insurers to consider

Manifesto

The world has changed.  The second half of 2008 saw events that previously would not have entered our wildest dreams. Who would have thought that one of the UK’s largest banks would pass into state ownership? Who would have thought that one of the longest periods of uninterrupted economic growth would stop dead in its tracks?

With this in mind, employees at Salmon recently put their heads together to author a manifesto (in 6 parts)  for Directors and Managers of Insurance companies, who have a responsibility for eCommerce and eBusiness.   Part 1 is available now as a downloadable .pdf, and considers “Will your Customers Change?”

It is our belief that at least six key issues need to be considered by insurers right now.  We will explore each in full in due course so register here to get each part of the manifesto emailed to you.

Here are the issues as we see them.  What do you think?

  • Issue #1:  Will your Customers Change? Even counter-cyclical industries, like general insurance, need to carefully consider this question.  After all, any business is only as stable as its customer base.  As we shall see, answering this question is not straightforward.  There are indications that we will have to think about meeting at least three shifts in customer demand and buying behaviour.
  • Issue #2:  Flexing our Cost Base Reducing operational costs has been a major component of most organisations’ plans over the last decade but there are new challenges.  Firstly, living through an economic downturn means that we have to rethink the minimum critical size of our operations.  Secondly, economic, political and social pressures may mean that we have to revisit past strategies based on outsourcing and offshoring.  These now established recipes might not serve us too well in the coming years.
  • Issue #3:  New Channel Relationships Emerging evidence points us to the fact that customers’ buying criteria – how they make purchasing decisions – may be changing both in commercial and consumer markets.  This means that current web based distribution will have to change if it is to deliver real value for both customers and suppliers.
  • Issue #4:  How to Unlock Markets Extending the reach of offerings into new markets is a commonly cited piece of advice for organisations facing an economic downturn.  A better and more astute move is to unlock markets that traditionally minded competitors think are either unprofitable or can only be served in one time established way.  To keep ahead of the game we have to consider how technology can act as a key to redefining markets that others pass by.
  • Issue #5:  Regulation – The Tool of Change:   There is no doubt that the current downturn will produce a globally co-ordinated push for new regulatory approaches to prevent another financial crisis.  November 2008’s first meeting of the G20 – the countries that will reshape the business world – put regulation right at the top of its global action plan.  All we know now is that the regulatory demands on organisations – especially in the financial services sector – will change.  The impact could range from more disclosure regarding investments, through to increased customer education and new roles for directors.  The demand for information will increase and new co-ordination and control systems will be needed.
  • Issue #6:  Information for Tough Times:  Research tells us that organisations that survived the last real downturn – in the early 1990s – managed their businesses in a totally different way to those that failed and disappeared.  Those that succeeded were closer to their customers and used a far broader range of management information than did the failures.  These winners were better at getting and using customer and market information.  So, systems for decision making have to go way beyond traditional financially based approaches if our businesses are to survive and grow in the current environment.

There is no doubt, rather than entrenchment, this is a time for innovation in how business processes and systems really deliver value. I hope you like the manifestos.  Please feel free to share and re-use.

Novae Underwriting get revamp by Salmon

A great new announcement was made this week:

Online Underwriting for Motor Fleet line-of-business

The announcement reflects our delight helping Novae launch its Motor Fleet line-of-business on RiskWrite, extending the web-based platform implemented originally back in 2004, to cater for a range of new productsto be marketed quickly and efficiently.  (You can read the announcement we made when we first started working with Novae here and get a complete case study here).

Steve Fookes, IT Director Novae said; “The introduction of Novae’s Motor Fleet Underwriting Service is an opportunity to strengthen our market position. We needed a completely integrated IT infrastructure that could be aligned across the business which was cost effective and would support ongoing growth.”

Designed as a series of fully reusable and customisable components that allow insurance companies to quickly leverage a truly open IT architecture; RiskWrite provides Novae greater visibility of the insured, policies and claims throughout the life cycle; encompassing such activities as quotations, placement of orders, policy production, financial management, document generation, management information and regulatory requirements.

For those not in the know (I am assuming everyone isn’t an expert in online insurance underwriting, thankfully Salmon are) this is a big deal.  The web-based system we have developed ensures that paper-based inefficiencies are a thing of the past and help Novae provide a high level of customer service to its brokers (such as providing online quotes and offering “acceptance” immediately, together with instant documentation).  Motor Fleet Underwriting is a complex business, and as part of the project Salmon has interfaced with third party systems likes the Motor Insurance Database, however, Salmon was still able to ensure Novae hit the go-live deadline and enabled Novae to commence trading on schedule.

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What a great end to the working week….