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InsurTech Roundtable 2019

We’ve come a long way since the word “InsurTech” would strike fear into the hearts of the traditionalists in the (re)insurance industry.

These days there’s less talk about eaten lunches and disruptive ideas and more chatter about collaboration and partnership.

But as the two sectors try to carve out a new path together, it’s time to sit back and assess whether this relationship is working out the way we thought. Or maybe the best is still to come?

At our annual InsurTech Roundtable held at the Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous – which has become somewhat notorious for getting a little heated – our knowledgeable participants debated over whether the (re)insurance industry is really innovating.

Are our new tech-enabled ideas genuinely breaking new ground, or are they just the old ways dressed up in a new suit?

Further than that, are incumbents really focusing their InsurTech investment in the areas which create the most value?

The right application of technology for enhancing operational efficiency would give the most immediate benefit – but it’s debatable whether just running a lean operating model gives you longevity over time.

Making the right underwriting decisions and pricing risk accurately is still the ultimate success strategy in (re)insurance, or so many believe.

There was virtually unanimous agreement that more intelligent use of external data would bring huge benefit to the industry as it is confronted with new emerging risks – and perhaps a data arms race is in fact on the horizon.

But in an ideal world, shouldn’t incumbents aim to be both a cost-light and nimble centre of underwriting expertise?

Debate raged at our roundtable on whether the structure of the industry, and the value placed on human relationships, means that that nirvana is indeed attainable.

Will technological advancements mean that a cedant can circumvent their broker (and the associated cost) entirely and buy their cat treaty as easily as they would make a stock trade?

Could underwriting be made sharper by artificial intelligence, or claims decisions made quicker by an algorithm? Alternatively, perhaps, more pertinently, should they be?

Maybe the only truly automatic and efficient insurance solution would be parametric, where the parameter is measured by an independent third party and no one can quarrel about paying up.

However, in this scenario, the consumer is often lumped with the basis risk and so the debate rages on.

Our discussion went right to the heart of what it means to be a (re)insurer today, and what it will mean for the customer of tomorrow.

We drew no firm conclusions but there was huge value to be found in having the discussion itself.

To view the InsurTech Roundtable 2019 supplement, please click here.