Future At Lloyds: Digital Blueprint for a 330 Year Old Exchange

In Sep 2019, Lloyds of London published their vision for the Future at Lloyds (FAL) as Blueprint One. Amid a tumultuous world economy, Lloyds has refined its strategy and game plan to launch Blueprint Two last week, a bold two-year program to establish newer ways of doing business, driven by digital channels with advanced data […]

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A Bustling Market and Its Many Crusaders

Virtual conferences in insurance have become regular fare this year. In tune with flavors of the season, conference hosts have been excelling in lining up a distinguished cast of speakers. In the past week, I was privy to two well attended conferences, which were remarkable in the choice of stakeholder group representation. Along with incumbent […]

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The Ecosystem Rush – Why Its Such A Rage Part 2

The future of several service industries may be headed towards ecosystems. Or so, a McKinsey study would make one believe. As per their research, as many as 12 large ecosystems yielding 30% of global revenues could become a reality in the next 5 years. In Part 1 of this article, examples of ecosystems in insurance […]

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The Ecosystem Rush : Why Its Such A Rage – Part 1

Friction in daily customer transactions has been diminishing. Regardless of whether they are at work, home or on the go, customers connect to digital ecosystems to fulfil needs. Globally, insurance customers tend to have similar preferences for connected services. They need safety, prevention, convenience and rewards for good behavior. Since they are accustomed to receiving […]

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The Elusive Sweet Spots In Insurtech Evolution

Hardly anyone would argue that change and innovation are not necessary in insurance. The $5 trillion global insurance industry is large, complex and capital intensive. With various relatively untapped market segments and under-penetrated world regions, the onset of PE/VC investments did herald the beginning of buoyant sentiment for more dramatic change and innovation than the […]

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It’s easy being a successful innovator, if one can simply peer into the Black Box of Magical Solution

The last several months have given me more exposure to the machinations of innovative insurance ideas, details, and outcome to the point where one must wonder how there are hundreds of legit, active ideas making their way through incubators, plug and plays, sandboxes, sprints, tech fests, virtual pitches, and so on.  Insurance is a $5 […]

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Curation of news pieces suggests no easy Cure for COVID Costs

Healthcare cost and availability, and business interruption cover litigation- strange bedfellows with commonality- overarching need within economies for resolution for each multi-hundred billion dollar/euro/rupee/pound issue.  Ironies abound- enormous need for healthcare due to COVID-19 should prompt revenue growth for providers, and closures of businesses due to government dictates due to COVID should prompt a rescuing […]

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Dominoes have fallen – what insurance learnings have we so far from COVID-19 business disruption?

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When this article was first posted in late February 2020 the COVID-19 outbreak was still focused on China, but its effects were menacing the globe.  At that time the concern was supply chain issues and a less than one hundred coronavirus cases distributed primarily on the east and west coasts.  As this article is reread one can consider what parts were on point, and if on point, was there anything that really could have been done to mitigate the then unimagined scope of what was to come?  Let’s revisit three months ago, think of what might be done next time, and also discuss with insurance agents how the market’s customers have changed in the ensuing time period (if at all.)  Text from the original article will be noted in italics.

 

Patrick Kelahan is a CX, engineering & insurance consultant, working with Insurers, Attorneys & Owners in his day job. He also serves the insurance and Fintech world as the ‘Insurance Elephant’.

February 27- It’s clear there is much of which to be concerned regarding novel Coronavirus 2019 (aka COVID 19), including  the direct impact of illness and death among those who have contracted the disease, and the indirect effect of closure of travel, quarantine, closures of schools, businesses, and frontiers. 

Who is considering the effect of the virus on local, regional, and global business?  Whether you believe in the extent of virility of the virus or not, one thing is certain- businesses across the globe are showing symptoms from COVID 19.  Is this an insurance disaster or unexpected new market?

Disaster or opportunity?  Sun Tzu notes in “Art of War”, “In the midst of chaos there is also opportunity.”  Certainly Sun Tzu’s intent was far from discussion of business and insurance, but the principle still applies- when there’s turmoil purposeful persons leverage opportunities.  My agent colleague, Brett Fulmer of Maxwell Agency Insurance Services in southern California recounted in a recent discussion, “I have been able to develop a broader presence within my connections and local industry through hosting and participating in virtual sessions.”  In essence, Brett capitalized on the new ‘Zoom environment’ to become an influencer, an action that has resulted in some unexpected business referrals.  Would this have happened outside a forced virtual new world? Perhaps, but in contrast to many who may have retracted into a safety zone that agent saw beyond just the next sale.

Bradley Flowers of Portal Insurance in the state of Alabama (and co-host of the Insurance Guys Podcast) advises his agency’s business has held its own so far during the work from home period, and he has been able to find opportunity in that virtual chaos by ‘patching up holes in the business’ since he has some unexpected management freedom by not being collocated with staff.  He didn’t say so, but one might say his staff have grown in their ability to make decisions, their initiative to serve, and through forced learning due to separation from colleagues’ input.  Perhaps the virtual model will be found to be an unexpected boon for the agency.  Ryan and Andy Mathisen founders of Glovebox, a virtual tool for agents’ and customers’ use in organizing insurance information, reiterated Bradley’s point about virtual work- many are wondering about the utility of offices and requirements thereof, not full disappearance of analog offices, but growth of remote work options based on COVID-19 environment experiences.

The business world lives with the two-edged sword of global interaction; on one edge a manufacturer in Barcelona can economically design and digitally source machine parts from a ten person shop located in Hubei Province in China, on the other edge is the disruption that may occur to the Spanish manufacturer if the machine shop is inactive or unable to produce a custom part. What of the cascading effects of supply chain disruption?

This has been proven true in more ways than can be considered.  Access to personal protective equipment is the poster child instance of this actuality- the bulk of the supply chain for PPE is housed in China, and a combination of business shutdowns there, ill-preparedness and slowness to act in most markets caused those products to be of dangerously low supply when most needed.

Unless your business was affected by the SARS outbreak in 2004, affected by the more localized (but terrifying) Ebola virus, or mosquito borne diseases like Dengue or Zika, the business effects of outbreaks are typically small- unless you are immersed in the outbreak.

For this article a deep dive into what’s covered by insurance and what’s not will not be taken- that would be too lengthy an effort for a Daily Fintech reader who needs an overview.  I can say that Business Insurance and Marsh and McLennan have a good summary document here, “Liability policies may respond to coronavirus” .  Travel insurers typically do not afford coverage if a traveler simply decides not to travel due to perceived risk (some policies have the ‘cancel for any reason’ option but it’s an exception placement.)  Suffice it to say that effects of outbreaks do no not fit well into insurance cover.

So what’s the point for this article?  Or, in this case, an updated version?

Awareness and consideration of how outbreak ‘dominoes’ can affect your business, and are there insurance options that might provide financial protection?

Let’s consider the potentials for risk management working backwards from end businesses: 

      • Most business interruption covers are based on an occurrence of direct physical loss, either on premises or within a supply chain. Unfortunately, disease outbreaks are seldom considered direct losses, and in most cases are excluded causes of loss.

Hasn’t this been proven to be the COVID-19 economic disaster for every economy?  Business interruption cover was never designed for pandemics, even to the point of minimal reinsurance capacity being present for that risk.  As such a multiple month shutdown in the U.S. has caused unreimbursed trillion dollar ripples across the twenty five million or so small and medium sized businesses, local and state governments, has overwhelmed banks as they work to administer federal response programs, and even has a ripple effect with health care organizations.

Continuing, we still are uncertain of effects that will be produced from:

    • Worker’s compensation
    • Liability from infection from customers being on premises
    • Directors and Officers cover if business results flag due to alleged poor planning
    • Supply chain risk- all along the supply and transportation chain? Has just in time become a liability
    • Loss of suppliers due to failures of businesses in the worst outbreak areas
    • Actions of governments? Legal ramifications of non-compliance
    • Employee actions due to extended periods of no work
    • Loss of key staff due to inability to maintain salaries
    • Interest rate risk from speculation
    • Inability to travel to affected areas where management oversight is critical
    • Increase of cyber risk due to reduced attention to risk and opportunistic bad players
    • Reduced productivity due to requirements for and inefficiencies of virtual work

There were other items listed in February’s version but if you are purposeful and look back to this article you’ll see we are all too well knowing of those issues’ outcomes.

John Neal of Lloyd’s recently published an estimate of COVID-19’s estimated effects on the global insurance industry across all lines- $200 billion.  Even if the $100 billion or so of investment portfolio losses are set aside from that number the remaining projected underwriting loss of $100 billion remains an unprecedented amount for the industry.  The terrible national catastrophe years of 2017 and 2018 did not reach that level.  The unique nature of the insured losses due to COVID-19 effects will not be fully realized for years as many of the affected covers produce long-tailed claims.  Recognition of the extent of the potential claim costs will prompt significant reserve levels being  marked by carriers, which will be an anchor on profits and constriction on ready capital.

It was just a few months ago that global broking houses were eyeing the hardening commercial markets favorably in terms of rising rates and growth of available products.  Contrast that outlook now with carriers rebating premiums and global brokers pulling P&L guidance.  If a main global firm like Aon acts to reduce staff and executive suite salaries (see PC360 article here ) due to the outbreak, there is clear indication that the pandemic’s effect goes well beyond SMEs’ business interruption cover concerns.

Going forward there are learnings for the risk management industry, and for any business that might be affected by issues related to outbreaks.  The availability of parametric insurance may become more commonplace, and the practicality of its inclusion in insurance plans will increase. 

There is no practical answer for pandemic insurance cover within the indemnity model.  Even a parallel fund such as was established by the U.S. Congress for terrorism effects (TRIA) would potentially fail under the weight of the volume of claim handling, and under the enormous gravity of trillion-dollar severity.  Claim administration of just ten percent of potential SME customers’ claims would potentially consume fifty million man hours of adjuster labor. And, since TRIA backstopping is legislated to cap at $100 billion, extending TRIA claim demands at the level of what is an average Paycheck Protection Program principal of $200,000, times 2.5 million claims and the ask of the fund becomes $500 billion, an amount that would need legislative approval.  Industry capital would be fully consumed addressing the claims, and government reimbursement would be- uncertain at that level.

Carry the parametric principle to supply chain interactions, or any business interaction where a disruptive trigger, or index can be identified, and a risk amount can be applied.  Business disruption due to a specific government command, for example, or supplier closure due to a WHO declared outbreak.  There may be many reasons why indemnity covers are unable to be written, but parametric options must be considered. 

The key is that global outbreaks do occur, and while perhaps not as potentially costly as COVID 19, significant none the less. 

Global reach, fragility of supply chain interactions, and business continuity demand different approaches, and provide the insurance industry new opportunities for risk products.

We are three months and a lot of economic heartache separate from our initial discussion of coronavirus’ potential effects.  Three months from now it would be good to be focusing on the opportunities the industry has found in the COVID-19 chaos.

I appreciate the additional input received in preparation of the article from insurance consultant and innovator extraordinaire, Chris Carney .

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Enough of COVID adversity- how about enjoying some insurance innovation diversity?

GIA

Enough for now on COVID-19- let’s consider what can the insurance industry expect as the world slowly pivots back to normalcy, whatever that will be?  The insurance industry is a five trillion USD business, and while aspects of the industry remain in flux as of this date, insurance does carry on as a foundation of business, ownership, contracts, transportation, life, etc. Insurance has been undergoing innovation focus for some years so in anticipation of what’s next, let’s take a look at one organization’s view of that very thing- ideas that are made to influence insurance change- the Global Insurance Accelerator (GIA).

 

Patrick Kelahan is a CX, engineering & insurance consultant, working with Insurers, Attorneys & Owners in his day job. He also serves the insurance and Fintech world as the ‘Insurance Elephant’.

The GIA functions as “a mentor-driven business accelerator designed to foster innovation in the insurance industry by supporting InsurTech startups targeting the global insurance industry.”  As such the GIA hosts a selected cohort of startups over a one-hundred-day period at their facilities in Des Moines, Iowa, a full-immersion environment of mentored development of the respective firms’ concepts. GIA Managing Director, Nicole (Cook) Gunderson notes another key aspect of this accelerator- sponsorship by established carriers and a token equity position being taken by the sponsor firm(s).

The recent graduating cohort was comprised of seven firms from diverse insurance line focus:

  • DenScore, software solution for dental insurers, leveraging dental claims data and patient feedback to measure dentists’ clinical performance
  • Caregiven, digital engagement and support tool offered as a group benefit by employers, ensures aging or ailing loved ones benefit from a higher quality of life.
  • Kiwi Insure, a social media focused analytics firm that risk scores customers before engagement in outdoor or sports activities and distribute personalized insurance products to customers on a demand or ‘gig’ basis.
  • Summary Medical, innovation to search and auto-review medical records, a hub for the review of medical records in life insurance underwriting.
  • Insurevite, virtual claim service focused on medical claims utilizing claim bot technology.
  • UdoTest, at home health screening developer and marketer with a full suite of do at home health tests.
  • Gerald Technologies, B2B digital SaaS acting as an info bridge between the insured and insurer.

With the GIA’s goal of providing a fertile development environment and intensive advisory services within the Accelerator’s 100 day period, the cohort went full steam ahead January 14 of this year.  As with the rest of the business world, the GIA began its required virtual operation March 16.  The apparent success of the virtual adaptation was evident in the Virtual Pitch Event the program sponsored on day 100, as the reader can access here on the presentation video- 2020 GIA Cohort Companies’ Presentations.

 

As I listened to each org’s pitch I considered the respective firm’s goals, the approach and delivery as currently exists, and then posed a question  or two by email for each founder.  While I was unable to obtain responses from all of the cohort’s members, I did receive information from a majority.  My thoughts- no matter how engaging the idea there has to be a purpose customers see and are willing to pay for.

DenScore

Knowing that DenScore’s focus is helping program enrollees make better choices about dental care based on a ‘best dental providers’ network, I asked founder KyleGernhofer:

DF          “Does the proposed rating service provide information that carriers will pay for absent immediate proof of financial worth?”

KG          “Absolutely! In addition to DenScore’s financial appeal, most of our conversations with dental insurers circle back to their desire to better serve their stakeholders (ie. enrollees, employers, dentists, brokers) which has been so refreshing to hear! Dental insurers love the fact that we’ve designed DenScore to provide added value to their entire customer base because this will ultimately lead to a stronger network and a resulting boost in net earnings.”

So it seems the ongoing potential benefit of the firm’s concept is through continuing assessment of patients’ experiences, carriers’ use of real-time ratings monitoring dental providers in not only knowing who is a good performer, but in providing under-performers feedback to improve how they serve clients.

Caregiven

A provider of a safe, convenient and easy to use caregiving platform for family members to use for structure, support, and guidance needed to manage the final years of a loved one, Caregiven is the idea of founder Candice Smith.  The service is marketed to life and health insurance companies, and to employee benefits providers as a digital engagement and support tool.

DF           “Soft benefits can get lost in the suite of benefits an employer can provide.  Seems awareness is the first hurdle for Caregiven; what other marketing avenues are being considered besides employee benefits presentations to build exposure for the firm’s services?”

CS           “One of Caregiven’s values is to reach those individuals who need it, when they need it, in as frictionless a way as possible.  Therefore we are going-to-market as an employee benefit because there is such a gap in the services offered to employees caring for an aging or ailing loved-one.  Caregivers themselves suggested this channel as one of the first entities impacted by their new family caregiving obligations and proclivity they have to trusting benefits provided by their employer.”

Build the tool as a soft benefit an employer provides and build from the employee community aspect one can get from one’s employer and leverage the organizational and prompting aspects an application can provide a family caregiver.  That’s the firm’s unique approach.

Kiwi Insure

Per Kiwi Insure’s founder, Evgeny Aleksandrov, “Insurance is hard. It’s hard for customers because it’s poor experience, confusing and prefer to not think about. It’s hard for insurance companies because it’s expensive to sell, takes long time and often times the ultimate customers are not clear.  Using analytics to distribute with personalized offers at the time the product is most relevant to the customer and the design innovative products that fit people’s lifestyle.”

DF           “Kiwi Insure provides a variety of covers- are they all indemnity-based, or are some simply triggered by an occurrence?  Kiwi has an insurance partner; is Kiwi an MGA, full stack carrier with rei backing, or other?  Is the insurance partner also assisting with claim handling and severity spikes?”

EA           “Kiwi offers product that fits people lifestyles. They are easy to understand, fit for purpose, and on-demand. We currently focus on offering individual indemnity accident / injury product that insured can turn on/off whenever they need it most. Kiwi acts as an agency passing on the capital risk to our carrier. Our carrier assists with claims.”

Clever social media analysis that can prompt a customer to trigger cover for the ‘adventure’ period and can provide additional intelligent ‘nudges’ for cross sold products.  As a sort of MGA the firm’s utility to its carrier partner(s) is essentially prequalified leads.

Summary Medical

As many others have found there is a need to better organize medical records for use in many healthcare or insurance tasks, including wrestling the demon of unstructured data- both in volume and in accessibility.  Summary Medical’s founder, Clint Laskowski, has first hand knowledge of the challenges being an IT professional working with large life carriers.

DF           “OCR, NLP, and security/privacy protection are not entirely unique concepts.  What differentiation does Summary Medical provide that would be a discouraging barrier to entry for other firms with similar AI tech?”

CL           “With regards to the excellent points in your second question, I can’t get into specifics other than to say that we believe we have some advantages, but (1) we are not ready to share these yet, and (2) we see a bright future in the application of NLP and ML when it comes to understanding unstructured data.”

I like the no-answer answer- confidence in the pursuit, not yet at proof of concept but cognizant that at first blush the idea appears to be more of the same.  Looking at the three words, “understanding unstructured data” hints at the firm not only organizing medical records/data, but doing it in a manner leveraging NLP and ML such that the access software provide an optimized search tool that is superior, less costly, and faster than competition.  How they look in the Fall of 2020 will tell.

The other firms in the cohort, Gerald Technology (Ola Okeshola), Udo Test ( Allison Martin ), and InsureVite (David Yeng ) had not had time to finalize their responses to the DF questions prior to publication, but it’s certain the answers would have ‘fleshed out’ the short pitches the firms’ founders provided in the virtual presentation.  I recommend watching the pitch video to get an idea of what projects the GIA found meaningful, and the projects that some major carriers found useful to support.

Credit is to be given the GIA and the cohort for adapting to the virtual environment needed to complete the session, and for the successful virtual pitch finale.  Whether the startups’ respective success carries on to integration into the insurance and customer service environment- that we will all wait to see.

What is certain- innovative ideas will carry on past the immediate COVID-19 period.

 

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Insurance- the great water balloon- squeeze here, bulges there

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Insurance is not a new business, but its functionality and appearance to the public may be in the post COVID-19 world. Plenty of thought is being given to the future of many types of insurance cover, its underwriting, distribution, and claims, etc.  But what about the ‘right now’ for insurance lines during COVID-19 operations?  Insurance is a global $5 trillion business, and while there are sectors that will be depressed, business marches on and so does insurance cover. So what factors may be affecting lines of cover, and what is the outlook going forward in 2020?

Patrick Kelahan is a CX, engineering & insurance consultant, working with Insurers, Attorneys & Owners in his day job. He also serves the insurance and Fintech world as the ‘Insurance Elephant’.

Without question 2020 will be a down year for global GDP, with one estimate supporting an overall decline of 2.4% (Economic Research: COVID-19 Deals A Larger, Longer Hit To Global GDP .)  Will insurance premiums decline by that amount, more less, increase?  It’s certain that the global economies will continue to require risk management. Having mandated shut downs does not allow for shut down of insurance cover for a business; liability remains something for which protection must be maintained. Motor cover has been shown to be less important by the mile, but still mandated in most jurisdictions.  The thought process carries on, and the process seems a good exercise for us this week, perhaps will generate some thoughts and discussion.  I’ll lead off, give my 2p and you can chime in.

Business Interruption

We’ll get the obvious cover out of the way.

COVID-19 has exposed business interruption cover as the factor no one knew that everyone needed.  There will be two main efforts for BI- litigation for those who insist their policy included it, and looking for purchase for those who know they will need it for the next pandemic. Government pressure for mandated cover (if successful) for BI would make all arguments moot- the BI response would cripple the industry for all covers.  As for availability of BI cover that addresses pandemics? A sea change for BI cover would be needed to exempt the cover from needing a covered physical loss, and removal of exclusions (or establishment of endorsements) related to pandemics. Oh, and the pesky needs for capacity, underwriting understanding, planning for claims, etc. Nothing available soon, at least in an indemnity product.

Two interesting related facts- Marsh and Munich Re had offered pandemic cover- Pathogen Rx as recently as Fall, 2019, but had little demand for the cover. And Amsterdam’s DGTL Festival ‘accidentally ‘ had event cancellation cover for pandemics due to an admin error by the organizer’s staffer who checked off a box for pandemic in error .  A $2.3 million error to the good.

Workers’ Compensation or Employers’ Liability

The cover that is a looming monster due to potential latent effects of COVID-19 being contracted after businesses begin to reopen. The WC cover in the U.S. while slightly differing state to state in large part will afford cover for employees who claim contracting the virus on the job. There’s not a heavy burden of proof so medical costs and loss of wages will accrue to the WC policies- all new peril costs for the systems.  India has similar potential for excess costs, the UK’s Employer Liability cover that mirrors WC a little will be limited for severity but will have frequency effects. For all jurisdictions there will be an expense increase as WC claims are cumbersome and heavily involved in unstructured data.

Business Owners/General Liability

If fewer feet are through the door there is less exposure to claims, so this cover will be a function of the length of shutdowns. What will affect the liability portion will be allegations of customers claiming COVID exposure and those businesses that are not careful and organized in their operations regarding safe methods and clear notices to customers may be higher frequency targets for lawsuits. And in similar fashion to WC and BI claims, handling the claims will consume adjuster production time. Carriers will be less able to simply deny/repudiate claims as regulatory oversight will be heightened. The UK’s FCA has opined that while it’s not the regulators place to determine cover, the carriers had better be thorough and prompt in determining cover and making payment where warranted.  The post-COVID environment would be an unfortunate place for a carrier to engage in coverage shenanigans.

Motor/auto

This cover has been the poster-child response cover for carriers in recognition of less service frequency needed, fewer claims, and the need to rebate premiums due to the reduction in exposure. Many carriers have taken those steps in handing premiums back or establishing forward looking credits (summarized well here by Nigel Walsh. )

An aspect of significant reductions in claim costs will be reduced loss ratios (surely a 1/1 rebate will not occur), but absent significant reductions in cost structure one might expect increased expense ratios due to earned premiums be reduced by rebate amounts.  It’s a big water balloon, isn’t it?

Property/Homeowners

Might just be a push- higher occupancy periods to detect issues sooner, but also higher occupancy rates to task mechanical systems and prompt sudden failures with ensuing damage.  No rebates offered quite yet, but one is never surprised.

Credit Risk

The ability to pay invoices will be hamstrung across many business sectors and severity concerns are already transmitting through to reinsurance products focused on same, and hedge vehicles have had the elevated risk priced into their trading prices already. Another form of credit risk- supply chain activity- will experience fits and starts as suppliers have reservations about purchasers’ ability to pay, and associated insurance costs will increase.  More water balloon action.

Mortgage default risk

Seems intuitive- higher unemployment, gradual recovery, delayed benefits flowing from the government, and those who live month-to-month will have less ability to pay mortgages, both individuals and businesses. Artemis.bm indicates approximately $9 billion in ILS/bonds related to mortgage default risk; combine that volume with the significant drop in the EurekaHedge ILS index during the month of March and while the data are not directly correlated they are related and suggests one’s pause for thought.

Health insurance will be left out of the discussion- that is the wild west in terms of severities prompted by COVID-19 treatments. The corollary however is that elective surgery has been curtailed as has regular health oversight, both high costs for insurers.  Combine the assistance governments have been providing and health insurer positions may not be as bad as one would expect. May not.

Reinsurance has little exposure to COVID-19 and so far pricing has been favorable for renewals and new placements based on market factors for those lines, see an example reported by SCOR here .

BIG water balloon, insurance.

The industry also must keep a weather eye on the next occurrence of systemic risk, including a pandemic, and the response would not serve well if it’s a fully government funded program. Too slow, inefficient, needlessly expensive and would overlook strengths the insurance industry and capital markets would bring. All the players affected by and influencing risk management need to work to collaboration- would make all the lines of cover more stable. #TenCsProject

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