AM Best has had some really compelling videos on their site this week, including this clip from Tuesday that showed us the future of underwriting through the crystal ball of Gail McGiffin of Ernst & Young. She and Meg Green discuss what property insurance underwriters of the future will be expected to do and how they will do it.
Based on the conversations I have had with underwriters and those who manage underwriting, forget the future — this technology is needed now. Underwriters are already overwhelmed with different tools and datasets. In fact, I was recently walking through the offices of a global top 10 carrier, and there were desks covered in rolls of flood maps!
For an underwriter to succeed today, with soft markets and underwriting expected to be a revenue generating activity (as discussed here by Mike Foley, CEO Zurich N.A. Commercial at RIMS, and as explored here), they need quick access to relevant information and answers. They need all their different tools to be integrated, with answers moving through different systems in a way that maximizes efficiency. A collection of different applications on their laptops will not work.
Further, one of the key points made by Ms. McGiffin is the increased sales responsibilities that underwriters can expect. This is a view that is quickly becoming universal, and before long underwriting software will need to support marketing and prospecting functionality. This sounds like a big jump, but the analytics are the same. Instead of assessing the risk on submissions, an underwriter needs to assess the risk on locations NOT being submitted. Underwriting tools need to handle this.
The key to all this functionality is platform-based technology. There will be no one system that does everything that underwriters will need to do (just like there is nothing available now that does), but rather, a successful underwriting solution will enable all the functionality by connecting to all the necessary functionality. There will be tasks that will best be served by specialty software, and the complete solution will bring them together in a way that underwriters can use easily.
In the context of software and SAAS, “platform” is almost a tired cliché now, but that is only because platforms are so foundational to all modern software functionality. Google, Amazon, Uber and Salesforce are all platforms, which allow these service providers to build, deliver, and — most importantly — iteratively improve their solutions.
Platforms support ever-improving and ever-expanding functionality without big infrastructural changes, by allowing connections to the widest possible variety of services by API and other Web services. For Ms. McGiffin to be right, this technology will be de rigueur for property insurance underwriters in the future.