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Was the Insurance Business Claims Tech Summit all it claimed to be?


Richard Nicholson, InsurTechNZ Working Group member, Head of InnoCo and Chief Strategy & Innovations Officer for Crawford NZ

I recently attended the ClaimsTech Summit held in Sydney in May. Overall it was a good conference, well attended with a number of insurers (under writers and reinsurers) sharing how they have approached developing claims services, their internal challenges, various strategies and deployments. Of particular value was the panel discussion that wrapped up the day. Susan Donaldson (Head of Claims, Berkshire Hathaway) moderated the discussion between James Hahm (Claims Executive, GenRe), Sheriff Hamza (Head of Claims, Life & Investments, Zurich), and Angus Kench (VP Claims, Liberty).

Hahm made several good points that summed up the need to be pragmatic and not get caught up in the ‘tech-hype’. And similar to my own view, stated, “the human condition (when making a claim) is not necessarily resolved by tech alone.” This is always front of mind when we consider solutions and changes to our processes.

Hamza had many good points, including, “claims is highly complex so depends on the specifics when deciding what technology might apply and how. There is no one solution, or provider, despite what some insurtechs like to claim.”

Kench, (in regards to post First Notice Of Loss) “…work towards changing customer calls us, to, we call or message the customer, or get out of the way between the customer and the right contact.” This is something we are working hard on. Contractors and other players in the supply chain need to have seamless access to the customer, while we still have full visibility.

A question put to the panellists, “If you had $2 million right now, where would you spend it within your own claims environment?” Donaldson, “Document upload and management.” Kench, “Payment process, and same as Donaldson, documentation upload and management.” Hamza, “Claims rules engine, document and folder labelling.”

Kench was asked “How have you got on with engaging with insurtechs and startups?”. His reply was for me, the best quote of the day, “Rate of change is ramping up so disruptors aren’t exactly in the driving seat, in most situations. Working alongside smart people, often within your own organisation, is better than having a startup bringing either cool tech, with no problem to solve, or solving a problem that could be done in a more cost effective or better ROI way.”

He wasn’t meaning don’t work with startups, but rather be mindful of the innovation that can be born from those at the coal face. They have a much more pragmatic view and tighter budgets to work from when creating solutions, than possibly external suppliers, including startups.

Obviously, there’s a bigger question here, one we are all trying to address, including those at InsurTechNZ that was pointed out in their April 2019 report, InsurTech Emerging at Pace, “How do we get incumbents to work more collaboratively with insurtechs?” A discussion for another post!

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