13 June 2022Insurance

Support the art of the underwriter with bionic tools

What if you spent only 10 percent of your time performing tasks of any real value? That is the sad reality for many underwriters, grappling with huge volumes of data instead of getting on with the job that they love.

But, by taking a digital-first approach to underwriting, insurers can find ways to leverage automation, allowing their talented teams to deliver greater value to the business. By providing the underwriter with ‘bionic tools’ that augment and support, rather than replace, people, chief underwriting officers can concentrate on reducing costs, improving the risk profile and finding innovative ways to generate new business while keeping existing customers. Embracing transformation is the way forward.

Send is featuring at a number of key moments during Underwriting Innovation Europe, 2022, including keynote presentations and roundtable moderation. During those appearances, figures including Danielle Champion, chief executive officer of managing general agent (MGA) Thomas Miller Specialty; and Ben Huckel, chief executive officer of Send, will discuss what it means to embrace advanced underwriting technology, and how it can bring organisational change without the need for large scale overhauls.

In this interview, Huckel reveals what attendees can expect to learn from Send and its partners at the event, as well as discusses how to make the most from emerging technology.

Why is now the time to be talking about the ‘bionic underwriter’?

To date, the post-bind market has been well served with traditional technology, whereas the pre-bind market has been largely underserved. It’s an area ripe for disruption, and where we see large-scale innovation happening. Companies are allocating increasing budget to drive underwriting efficiencies and work smarter. It’s an opportunity not just for the existing insurers and MGAs but for the growing band of startups that are entering the industry.

What organisations of every size need is the ability to fast-track their capability in a market where there’s lots of competition. The MGA segment is the fastest-growing one within the commercial market. MGAs need to be able to move with confidence and quickly. The opportunities they’re chasing will disappear if they’re not highly responsive.

But, as a result of all this growth, it’s also difficult to stand out. Many of the players are trying to make an impact and to gain credence in the market that will, ultimately, drive more market share. Operational resilience and streamlining processes through technology will help them achieve that.

Do underwriting organisations have to conform to a certain format or stage of technological sophistication to benefit from digital transformation?

We are what you’d call a composable platform with fluid ‘building blocks’. Companies can pick and choose which components they integrate into their existing state. That means they can rationalise that state and, if they want, also start to improve it.
They can use it to augment the areas they feel would be most productive but note that it’s not a direct replacement for legacy technology.

A good example is in data consolidation. A typical legacy-based enterprise organisation will have data in a variety of siloes. Having a joined-up view of data is often not common in the businesses we work with. It’s easier in startups who operate in a ‘green field’ environment.
Trying to get a handle on data in enterprise organisations can be difficult. Using a platform such as the Send Underwriting Workbench can bring the data out of those siloes, which can then be interpolated and extrapolated to make real sense of it. That, in turn, helps them make faster, more intelligent decisions in their underwriting process.

Being able to use that data can be a game-changer. It means those businesses can start to think about how to support strategic portfolio growth initiatives. It gives them real-time metrics that support what they’re trying to achieve.

It also helps attract the next generation of underwriters – those who have seen the realm of the possible in their daily lives and expect intuitive technology and user interfaces to be as much a part of their professional lives as their personal ones.

How does streamlining the operation with technology impact the underwriter’s day-to-day activities?

Underwriters are frustrated by admin-intensive tasks. There are bottlenecks, the work is manual, slow and inefficient. For example, they live out of their inboxes, and track work via spreadsheets, whiteboards and even bits of paper, scattered on their desks. They spend inordinate amounts of time rekeying data into different systems, and that creates delay and error.

By pulling all that information together into a single platform – typically through auto-extraction using artificial intelligence – underwriters can achieve operational effectiveness in a very straightforward manner. McKinsey cites non-value-added activity makes up 30 to 40 percent of an underwriter’s time. People we speak to find it can go as high as 80 or 90 percent. By implementing software, they gain control over that process and find space to make faster, more informed decisions.

What does ‘having control over the process’ mean in real terms?

Think of things such as regulatory control: gaining an audit and compliance view of your world and making sure you confidently tick all those boxes. Alternatively, you could be looking to gain control of the process in terms of the single customer view.
For Thomas Miller Specialty, the MGA has offices in different locations. Before using a unifying platform, they couldn’t be sure each was dealing with the same customer. That single joined-up view is vital and because everything is reportable, there is that sense of gaining control and commercial confidence from compliance to customer experience.

What do you hope attendees will take away from your sessions at Underwriting Innovation Europe 2022?

That it’s not only about gaining an informed view of customers and the data in your systems, but about being able to drive further information from that data and make strategic decisions that will ultimately drive portfolio growth.
We’re hoping to learn too, from the nuances in each organisation’s particular challenges and how their own journeys can be augmented.

Hear Danielle Champion, chief executive officer of managing general agent (MGA) Thomas Miller Specialty; and Ben Huckel, chief executive officer of Send, discuss what it means to embrace advanced underwriting technology at Underwriting Innovation Europe 2022, to be held on June 14-16.  Register here

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