The commercial insurance
industry is commonly depicted as a sleepy space, resistant to technological change, while personal lines insurers explore new ways of engaging consumers.
While increased technological development has largely cut independent agencies out of the personal insurance business, however, insurance tech executive Max Pell believes the adoption of electronic placing platforms would be a big step forward for both commercial insurers and their broker partners.
“There has been a long, sad history of trying to get e-placing platforms up and running. If you looked at it from the outside, you would ask why people are still doing business like this,” said Pell, managing director of insurance services with tech services provider Xchanging . “The most sophisticated it gets is attaching things to an email.”
Under Xchanging’s vision, large and mid-tier brokerages would instead use e-placing platforms to interact with insurers and place large property/casualty risks both nationally and globally. Currently, Pell says insurers and brokers spend too much time exchanging emails and, thanks to the lack of technological innovation, forgetting which party made changes to which part of a business agreement.
Pell anticipates cultural resistance to change will keep e-placing platforms from becoming commonplace for the next five to 10 years, so Xchanging is starting small in its efforts to build marketable e-placing platforms.
The group has built a document collaboration service currently being tested in London by larger brokers. Pell describes the service as “one place sitting in the cloud where everybody can go and look at the same version of wordings, and there’s a whole audit trail of which changes were proposed and accepted, and which weren’t.”
All pricing negation would also begin in the cloud, rather than on the phone or through email. When the agreement is finished, the service closes with one final version of the document.
“There will never be disputes over which version is the final version,” Pell said. “It’s all about getting rid of that inefficiency.”
From London, Xchanging hopes to start marketing its e-placing products globally, and to eventually “create a number of standalone industry, global-standard platforms” for the property/casualty insurance industry, including services governing accounting and settlement.
Pell anticipates Xchanging’s e-placing operations will take “probably five years to get up to a reasonable size and scale” and then another five to ten years to “transform the industry.”
“The challenge is to get the first people on the platform, and then it will become a snowball effect,” he said.