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Cameron Shearer, CEO, Digital Risks

Tweet Cam @CamShearer

Tweet Digital Risks @DigitalRisks


Disruption better late than never for business insurance

As many of my fellow bloggers have already expressed very eloquently, insurance is famously behind the times when it comes to incorporating tech and all things digital into its products and services. And if you think insurance as a whole is behind the times, then business insurance is even more so, with the commercial sector being seriously slow in addressing the needs and wants of today's new breed of businesses.

It's a situation I've found confusing because there's such a big opportunity! The UK start-up landscape has never been more exciting, with over 600,000 new businesses started last year, up 4.6% on the year before. And while starting a business is always a challenge, in many ways it's never been easier, with technology and co-working spaces reducing overheads and many of the barriers to entry.

Self-employment is another huge trend, with the so-called ‘gig economy' leading many to seek a new way of working outside the traditional 9 to 5. Recent research by McKinsey found that between 20 and 30 per cent of people in Europe and the US are now self-employed, while some experts predict this will rise to 50% by 2020. That's a significant number of people - who will all be needing insurance.

So how do we meet the needs of this new breed of businesses?

...Full Blog post >>

31.08.16 |


Mark Mullin, director of digital strategy, Guidewire

Digital Insurance Collective: Using technology to attract millennials

I closed my last post by promising some thoughts on attracting millennials to work in our industry.

Let's be even more specific: How can today's brokers and intermediaries convince the millennial generation that a career in insurance distribution is for them?

Thinking about this, I looked back to my time as a broker in the 1980s (yes, I have been around that long).

In 1984, I purchased my first ever computer system to run my brokerage. At the time I was living in Canada, so just divide everything here by two and you will have the approximate value in sterling. The main box was C$7000. It had a massive 640K of RAM, and a 20 megabyte hard drive. The salesman assured me that I would never need anything larger (we upgraded 12 months later to 40 megabytes). Three green screen terminals, a dot matrix printer, a backup tape drive, and the software to run the company - running on Unix of course, with DOS 2.0 underneath. The total bill - C$30,000. Or about C$70,000 in today's money.

I look back on that and shiver at how much this cost; but I would not have been able to build a C$10m business with six staff without it. The system made us better. It drove us forward. It was the root of my continuing belief that technology can drive business success.

Now look at insurance distribution today... Full Blog post >>

22.07.16 |



Gordon Rutherford, head of marketing & e-commerce, AXA Business Insurance



Six Things That Insurers Can Learn From Pokemon GO

I'm sure that there isn't anyone out there who is unaware of the phenomenon that is Pokemon Go. Globally, it is estimated to already be on 5% of the world's smartphones. At the time of writing, it has been out for a mere ten days. Think about that for a moment.

Described as like being immersed in a warm, relaxing bath (just like buying insurance, eh?), the world is engaged. On trains on the daily commute, on our city streets, in public parks, it seems that the entire world is fixated on collecting pokeballs. Yesterday, a friend of mine narrowly missed being totalled by a bus because he was intensely focusing on chasing a fire horse thing across Moorgate.

And Pokemon Go has served to go way beyond mere entertainment. More than anything, it has contributed to us forgetting all of our fears and concerns about the fact that the country is currently being pulled into some catastrophic political and economic abyss. Why worry about who is leading our political parties when there are Pokemon Gyms out there to get to.

Anyway, what has any of this to do with insurance? Well, everything actually. There are six really crucial lessons that insurers can learn from Pokemon Go. So, in no particular order... Full Blog Post >>>

04.07.16 |


Vivek Banga

Vivek Banga, chief digital officer, Author J Gallagher

Tweet Vivek @AJG_Intl



How can we make digital work within large corporate organisations?

Imagine a start-up today, whatever the industry. The business plan has been written, the products developed, the launch prepared and planned for. And digital will sit at its heart.

Whether it is selling and servicing online, devising and developing an integral mobile app, or executing a social media campaign to push and promote the launch, digital will doubtless be the common thread.

But that start-up won't employ a ‘head of digital'. Every service will simply have a digital avatar. It will be expected and accepted that every single transaction - such as buying a new product - will have a digital option for completing the task at hand, even if non-digital alternatives exist.
Now compare that with large or long established, successful businesses. You may well be working in one.

There you'll find a growing realisation that digital is too mega a trend to ignore. There'll also be a real and genuine desire to explore and embrace digital channels. And someone will no doubt be entrusted with the task of digital development.
Yet at the same time, the existing traditional and profitable business needs to be protected and nurtured. In commercial insurance specifically, scepticism over a digital utopia quite rightly remains. People hear constant talk of disruption but outside segments such as motor, home or travel - the same lines that were early adopters of the internet - there is little evidence of it... Full Blog Post >>>

15.06.16 |



Mark Mullin, director of digital strategy, Guidewire Software

Insurers - ignore the Millennials at your peril

After spending decades in the insurance industry on several continents, it never ceases to amaze me how we continuously fail to adapt to change as effectively as other industries around us.

In the past, it has been possible to get by with expedient choices to address immediate needs. What has crept up on the industry is the impact of a whole generation of new customers with different demands - I am, of course, speaking about Millennials.

I am all too familiar with the challenges of satisfying the expectations of this generation. My own two children are Millennials and my experience has been that within this group expectations are incredibly varied. Indeed, Millennials seldom behave homogenously. My favourite example is my daughter, who works in the IT department of a major international company. This creates an added dimension to her expectations regarding interaction with external suppliers or, indeed, any company. She knows what should be possible, so don't try to fool her. Like her brother, she expects to interact when and how she chooses... Full Blog Post >>>

02.06.16 |



Leigh Calton
head of proposition development,


Tweet Leigh @OfficialelRsie



When worlds collide...

"Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose" as the French say (or "the more things change, the more they stay the same", as we Brits would say). If you haven't noticed, there's a lot going on within insurance at the moment. Not only are we all trying to secure and retain today's customer, but we are also active in trying to understand tomorrow's consumer and whether they will buy insurance from an established player (broker or insurer), a start up, or even someone who has yet to have their business idea that will take over the world. With so much going on - connected homes, connected cars, drones, blockchain... where do we start and, more importantly, where will it all end?

The easiest answer is ‘we don't know yet'. But it's the more complex answer(s) where the true value lies. There are a lot of conferences and events at the moment, each on a specific subject (pretty much the same as the list above) and this is part of the problem. Trying to separately develop a connected home solution, a connected car product, working out what benefit drones can have and what on earth blockchain really means to a consumer is difficult enough. However, none of these trends will develop and grow in isolation. They're all likely to feed off of one another... Full Blog Post >>

 07.04.16 |


Paul Wishman, ecommerce director, LV


Tweet Paul @paulwishman




So it's clear we are going to be disrupted, at some point...

For a long time, innovation and progress in the insurance industry has been thwarted by the very real obstacle of legacy systems. You've got a great new product or service to launch but your systems can't support it. Until now, the favoured work-around approach has simply been to create a sub-brand on a new technology stack, often with the aim of reverse-engineering capability and learnings back into the main estate; an aim often missed.

I sense that our traditional direct insurer business model is likely to look less like a manufacturer and more like a retailer, with a mix of strategic partnerships that help provide the right edge. What will remain true is the customer's expectation of great service with a brand and product that gives sufficient assurance, at the right price: we just need to adapt how that is delivered.

It's clear that the much-maligned legacy system problem is one that doesn't wash much these days.

Many insurers are faced with the multi-faceted challenge of... Full Blog post>>

30.03.16 |



Kate Greenstock
design director, Pancentric


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How designers will take over the insurance industry

I imagine you scoffed at this blog title. In fact, you're probably ready to switch off entirely. However, bear with me a little longer - I think you'll find it useful.

If you haven't noticed, designers are already taking over the business world, and that is truest at the point where digital, technology and innovation meet.

Apple, with its long history of innovative products and services is a stand out example. The Google Ventures team - with their ‘design sprint' - are having an increasing significant influence across the Alphabet portfolio. And then there is IBM, who have fully embraced the power of design thinking to unlock the potential of its big data capabilities in solving real world problems.

Bringing things into a sharper insurance focus, Oscar the health insurance ‘start-up' that is making waves in the US (valued at $2.7bn - £1.9bn - after this week's latest round of funding), addresses the importance of design directly in its tagline: "We're revolutionising health insurance through technology, data and design".

At this point, it's worth taking a moment to consider what a designer is... Full blog post >>

14.03.16 |




Jonathan Swift,
director of content,
Insurance Post


Tweet Swifty @insuranceswifty

Post Digital Insurance Collective:

Aviva CDO Brem - digital needs its own P&L to make it a board room reality

To succeed in the digital space insurer boards need to have the "guts" to make it a strategic priority, pull capital in from elsewhere to prove it, give it its own profit and loss "teeth" and build a few icons to underline a commitment to the cause.

Those were among the suggestions of Aviva's chief digital officer Andrew Brem, speaking at the first Post Digital Insurance Collective meeting last week (11 March) in London... Full blog post >>

Insurers need 'massive mind-shift' to create Amazon one click revolution, claims Aviva's Brem

Insurers need to focus on the "ultimate tailoring" of their offerings and take the plunge on "appification", if they are going to compete with online giants like Amazon... Full blog post >>

Design thinking, feeling uncomfortable and three centuries of caffeine fuelled innovation

Following last week's Digital Insurance Collective meeting, I promised to put together a blog consisting of my top eight take homes from my discussions and observations. So here are my thoughts... Full blog post >>

04.03.16 |

Steven Mendel


Steven Mendel,
CEO and co-founder, Bought By Many


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Five reasons insurance incumbents secretly think they aren't going to get disrupted

I was privileged to be able to attend a roundtable discussion this week on innovation in the insurance space and found the conversation surprising.
The discussion started well with attendees building a list of the key attributes of the successful insurance offering of the future, namely (and no surprises here):

• Mobile
• Data rich
• Built around consumer social groups
• Customers doing more for themselves

All of which has been well documented elsewhere, and which we, at Bought By Many, have believed from our outset.

The debate then took a more worrying turn... Full blog post >>

   25.02.16 |



James York, innovator-at-large, Worry+Peace


Tweet James @JamesJWYork #wakeupinsurance


Insurance needs your expertise to change - If you don't believe me, Google it...


With so many eyeballs on the insurtech space, hope has been kindled for innovation - but before we all get swept away with the tide of opportunity - let's do what all good insurance folk do best, and look for reality behind the hype. Is there a chance that some new smiles and nods of encouragement are coming from frenemies? It's time to see your true value and run with it.

Let's digress for a second. This week it was announced that Google Compare was to be moth-balled in the UK and US from the end of March. Whilst many will be breathing a sigh of relief, crying "sweet reprieve", it's worth considering Apple's 2009 acquisition of Lala - a music streaming pioneer. It has many parallels to Google's dabbling with Car insurance and a date with Admiral.

Firstly, music was a core revenue stream for Apple - iTunes was the dominant mode and acquiring this new type of music distribution made sense. It bought Apple time to assimilate and learn something it didn't do or probably strategically buy into, yet. Lala fans wept as their beloved system was sucked up, mucked up and mothballed. Yet, last summer, Apple Music emerged from the ashes. Six full years after Lala was eaten - it was spat out as a mashup of Apple's core products and more.

Google, makes a ton, literally a ton of gold from insurance keywords every day. Unlike Apple, it chose to assimilate and rapidly test the acquisition of Beat The Quote far more eagerly - following a gutsy £37.7m bet. An early variant emerged and has now since been mothballed. Whilst Google is infamous for brutally chopping projects - it's "X" division actually invented a new way to "vertically farm" only to kill the project because they couldn't get it to work with rice, the world's staple - they have a tell. All that opportunity is left to die because the scale product, the fabled moonshot, was out of reach... Full blog post >>


12.02.16 |



Dr. Stuart Booth, UK Director of Digital, RSA.


Tweet Stuart @rsagroup

The importance of design-led thinking.


Working in digital people talk to me a lot about technology. They assume I'm into gadgets and such like, burying myself in code and circuit boards into the wee small hours. In fact I'm no technologist. I'm actually a psychologist and I'm much more interested in understanding people, their needs and behaviours than I am in the latest mobile phone or home gaming console.

Technology is fundamental to what digital people like me do, but only as a supporter of the people who use it. perhaps even more important than technology or psychology is what glues the two together - design-led thinking, a way of identifying and solving people's problems which is central to a digital way of working.

The design profession is relatively new to insurance and, for the most part, its remit has been superficial. The traditional approach to insurance tends to be insurer-centric, focusing on tried-and-tested pricing and underwriting models. As a result, design often comes at the end of the process. Its brief is therefore focused on making things pretty and ensuring sufficient usability for a customer to get a quote.

In constraining design in this way we are missing a trick. When given proper support, design-led thinking can influence things in fundamental ways, with much more effective, sometimes game-changing results.

Take the iPad as an example. If Apple's designers had simply taken the technology it had always been given and made it pretty we would have ended up with, at best, an attractive laptop computer. By putting design-led thinking at the heart of their process, they were able to step back from traditional notions of what a computer is to understand user problems within real world contexts... Full blog post >>





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