Technology Roundtable 2019

Any discussion of the future of the London market soon becomes a discussion of how insurers, brokers and other players will embrace and capitalise on technology.

This roundtable, hosted by The Insurance Insider, brought together a variety of insurance specialists – carriers, intermediaries and technology experts – to discuss the potential digitisation and automation have for the market, and whether or not incumbents are keeping pace with other industries.

There was a general acknowledgement that while London has made great strides towards digitisation, it remains a very traditional marketplace.

Some felt that many of the issues faced by the market – for instance, the time taken to pay claims or difficulties bringing together different companies’ systems – “have been solved elsewhere” and that the insurance sector should look to other industries for help or inspiration.

There was a danger, participants agreed, of the sector being seduced by sophisticated technology such as artificial intelligence, when in reality it needs to focus on more basic issues such as properly capturing, storing and utilising the vast masses of data it holds.

Indeed, many commented that insurers and brokers had an advantage over would-be tech disruptors in that they already have a rich seam of data they can use to better understand the risks they can cover, and to be more accurate in awarding claims.

Process is also key. The London market is infamously long-winded in its transactions between multiple brokers, insurers and reinsurers.

Despite this, it has remained a global centre of excellence for insurance – but it might not for much longer without a meaningful evolution.

One participant in the roundtable drew a comparison to US bookseller Barnes and Noble, which traded well until “Amazon came along and re-defined the process”.

One of the first steps the market should take is using technology to bring risk to capital more quickly.

Aside from improving their own processes, insurers and brokers could also use technology to broaden the range of risks that they can place or cover, such as cyber risk or intangible assets, speakers said.

The question of whether, when and how insurers and brokers can pool their data and technology in order to help the whole market advance together was also the topic of heated debate.

While traditionally London market players have taken a proprietorial approach to data and technology, in sectors where technology is most advanced, the big players take a far more open-source stance.

If insurers want to catch up, they may need to change the way they use and share their knowledge with each other.

To view the Technology Roundtable 2019, please click here.

Rachel Dalton, Senior Reporter, The Insurance Insider