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Imagine you are at a seminar and you hear your job described as one of the ten most likely to be replaced by an algorithm in the future. What do you do? Do you find the nearest bar to drown your sorrows? Or do you start thinking about ways you can retain your relevance and stay ahead of the curve?

When I heard that prediction a couple of years ago, it planted a seed in my head. I needed to learn more about the cutting edge of technology in our industry – and find ways to keep things interesting!

Our industry is inherently based around human interaction (and the mistakes we make) so I think it’s unlikely ‘robots’ will be replacing humans in all our processes, but as an industry we need to be ready to harness the opportunities technology will bring and the improvements to our business model it will support.

Via the Meetup App, I discovered the growing number of networking events in London where insurance people were getting together to share ideas about how Insurtech could change our industry.

There is a real sense of excitement and enthusiasm at these events. People from different  backgrounds can share knowledge about how we can collectively improve the way our industry operates using technology being developed out in the world and have been a great way to help me understand the things I didn’t know I didn’t know.

Being part of these networks has led to some great connections with folk who can challenge ideas in a way it’s difficult to replicate in normal business-as-usual.

During 2016, when I was working in our Ceded Re team, I began to think of ways we could use technology to improve some of our processes. I researched Blockchain and realised it could revolutionise how we were working with brokers and reinsurers. On the back of an initial experiment –we call them Proofs of Concept -  XL Catlin became a member of the Blockchain Insurance Industry Initiative- - also known as B3i. This initiative involves some of the world’s largest insurers and reinsurers and is aimed at gaining insight and exploring the applicability of Blockchain technology for our industry.

I am now part of XL Catlin’s Accelerate team, set up at the beginning of the year, which is focused on working with our business to leverage opportunities from new technologies to drive innovation that will transform our company.

I strongly believe we all have a responsibility to understand how technology can help us do our jobs better. Even the less techy among us need to have a base knowledge of how it will change the way we do things – and how we can work alongside those changes to improve the way we transact and the products we offer to our clients. This doesn’t necessarily require huge amounts of resource, but rather the right mindset. One thing I have learned is that innovation projects do not need to be large-scale, big budget IT behemoths. Rather, these Proofs of Concept are relatively low cost and straightforward to set up and the results can provide evidence for an ongoing business case in less than six weeks.

While much of the impact of disruptive technology on the insurance industry so far has been in the personal lines space, we have a unique opportunity in the commercial marketplace to strongly differentiate and be at the forefront to  shape our industry. So we need companies like ours to live and breathe the commitment to being future-focused so we can ensure that we are on the front foot.

To quote Dale Carnegie: “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”

  • About The Author
  • Accelerate Partner, AXA XL
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