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Innovation at the centre of insurtech
Australia is in the midst of an insurtech boom. The shift from face-to-face interaction to remote communication prompted by the pandemic over the past few years has resulted in a technological expansion featuring some of the most innovative solutions the market has ever seen.
With products ranging from policy management and CRM platforms to social media management and predictive analytics, the 24 winners of the 2022 IB 5-Star Technology awards have pushed the envelope of what the Australian insurance industry is capable of achieving.
In general, insurtech companies are distinguishing themselves during a time of great opportunity. The Business Research Company expects the global insurtech service market to grow from $8.07bn in 2021 to $10.42bn in 2022 at a compound annual growth rate of 29.2%. The report states that “the change in growth trend is mainly due to the companies stabilizing their output after catering to the demand that grew exponentially during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021.”
“During the pandemic, AAMC was able to absorb the reduction in traditional service lines, pivot quickly to a work-from-home position for all staff, whilst bolstering services for the heavy vehicle transport sector”
Daniel Lukich, AAMC
Bumpy market conditions
It’s important for insurtech providers to be able to adapt quickly with the times. Both offering accident management products, 5-Star Technology winners AAMC, with its AAMC Repair Management product, and Stelvio Australia, with its EstImage product, have been on a bumpy road over the past two years.
AAMC was faced with two dilemmas associated with the pandemic. First, work-from-home measures and other restrictions led to a scarcity of traffic on the roads and hence, fewer automobile accidents. Second, the company faced the challenge of setting up its own hybrid work arrangement.
“The business was able to absorb the reduction in traditional service lines, pivot quickly to a work-from-home position for all staff, whilst at the same time bolstering services for the heavy vehicle transport sector that was less affected throughout COVID and, in fact, increased its activity,” says Daniel Lukich, sales and strategic relationship manager at AAMC.
Meanwhile, Stelvio Australia was concerned with more mundane business challenges. Regulations under the New General Insurance Code of Practice required Stelvio to add more compliance solutions and built-in features to the EstImage suite of products. Also, industry demand for faster turnaround necessitated a reduction in touchpoints in the claims processes, and an increasing demand for offering a single, centralised system led to functionality changes as well.
“Stelvio’s close collaboration with its customers and partners provides great opportunities to continue developing new features and products within the EstImage suite to help businesses within the insurance industry run better,” says Yannick Giguère, the company’s general manager.
“It’s essential that insurtech providers are intrinsically aware of the challenges that companies within the insurance industry and their customers face, and take considered, strategic steps towards developing solutions that map to these challenges”
Yannick Giguère, Stelvio Australia
An important element of the winners’ success is standing out from the competition.
For instance, Stelvio collaborates closely with partners and customers to apply innovative solutions to unique needs, often leading to a “win-win-win” result. With EstImage, the company uses software integration to simplify communication and data exchange between insurers and their suppliers from one centralised location. The suite of solutions can be modified to meet any existing or new demands of claims and repair shops. The solutions also integrate seamlessly and readily with external systems.
Meanwhile, the AAMC Repair Management platform combines technical expertise and scalability with unfettered access to specialist personal services when needed. It helps control costs, quality, and timeliness throughout the claims process. In addition, the platform leverages new technology such as automation, digital customer interfaces and connectivity between insurers, clients, and supply chains to speed up service and efficiencies while cutting costs by minimising duplication and unnecessary phone and email traffic.
Appsure, another 2022 IB 5-Star Technology winner, combines technology with a remarkable team and a partnership approach to meet customer needs. The company’s seasoned insurance professionals and technologies deliver products to solve real problems for customers while also providing robust support for traditional insurance operations.
“From a technology standpoint, Appsure is fully cloud-based and has a very strong integration strategy,” says Mark Hutson, managing director. “We offer industry-leading APIs across the system allowing for integration with other systems in real time. This gives our customers the flexibility to either rely on Appsure or to integrate with best-of-breed solutions and technologies for certain functions, such as pricing or customer portals. “Our rating engine takes advantage of and integrates with decision model and notation and business process modelling notation services to optimise and graphically represent business rules and process automation.”
Another attribute of the winners is their ability to overcome adversity.
For Appsure, that meant recently supporting the evolution of an important client’s enterprise architecture. “They initially relied on Appsure for much of the ‘back office’ processing of their policies and claims, but as they built their customer and staff portals and supporting automation, they started using our integration APIs to store and manage business process data,” says Andy Todd, the company’s commercial director. “This steered them to have business and customer functions specific to their requirements whilst still relying on Appsure to act as the core insurance administration system.”
In recent years, Stelvio also faced a greater demand for more functionality in its EstImage suite of products. The challenge was making the transition from one product to four, managing development, support, and product management, while also expanding into different areas such as property.
“Stelvio addressed this challenge by restructuring its software development team to sit under four distinct, multi-disciplinary teams, capable of building and modifying any product within the EstImage product suite,” says Giguère. “Stelvio also hired additional software development and product management team members to better resource its support and development teams.”
In addition to the aforementioned challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, AAMC – much like Stelvio – faced the challenge of complying with the General Insurance Code of Practice introduced in January 2021.
“This challenge was met by working closely with our technology partners, specialist consultants and by a leadership team investing significant time and effort to develop and implement a framework in line with requirements throughout 2020,” says Lukich. “AAMC chose to go further than simply implement the minimum to achieve compliance and chose to adopt the ‘three lines of defence model’ which encompasses a wide range of compliance obligations to ensure adherence and continuous improvement across our entire organisation. This means our organisation can not only comply and meet immediate challenges but offer a benchmark standard to our clients.”
“We work hard to understand the same market conditions and challenges that the insurance industry faces, but we recognise there is not a one-size-fits-all solution”
Mark Hutson, Appsure
The winners also have a willingness to pay it forward by helping other insurers vie for a 2023 IB 5-Star Technology award.
“It’s essential that insurtech providers are intrinsically aware of the challenges that companies within the insurance industry and their customers face, and take considered, strategic steps towards developing solutions that map to these challenges,” says Giguère. “Building innovative and original solutions that can be gradually implemented into a business can help organisations to achieve greater flexibility and agility without creating additional challenges through rapid change management processes.”
Lukich recommends that anyone in this sector address the three key factors of cost, quality, and timeliness. “In addition to these core values, any technology within insurance claims must make the organisation easier and not harder to engage with and not create a digital ‘silo’ with impenetrable or complex ecosystems that place additional burden on customers, partners, suppliers, and other key stakeholders when interacting with the entity,” he says. “We would also advise insurers to partner with claims tech specialists rather than embark in costly in-house development.”
Appsure recommends concentrating on solving problems for customers. “That is the key to Appsure’s success and a central focus for the team,” says Hutson. “We work hard to understand the same market conditions and challenges that the insurance industry faces, but we recognise there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Appsure is designed to provide flexibility in operation so that we can assist customers in a way that works best for them.”
- Advisr (Advisr Platform)
- Agile Underwriting Services (Powered by Agile)
- Akur8 (Akur8)
- AuditCover Australia (AuditCover)
- BAIS insurance technology (iBAIS)
- BizCover (BizCover)
- Hello Claims
- Cover Genius (XClaim)
- DigiSure (DigiSure)
- Evari (Evari)
- handdii (handdii)
- Honan (Indigo by Honan)
- InsuredHQ (InsuredHQ)
- Procuret (Procuret)
- ProRisk (ProBind/ClaimPro)
- Reask (Metryc)
- Verisk (Verisk Risk Rating)
- Xceedance (Xceedance)
‘Market-leading’ is a phrase many technology companies like to use when describing their software. Now, 24 companies can claim that title on the back of hard market research from the people who matter most: insurance brokers.
Technology providers were asked to nominate their solutions, explaining the features that make them the best in the market and why they stand out against competitors. The IB Australia team then reached out to brokers, asking them to rate their overall satisfaction with the insurance technology providers they had dealt with. The top-scoring technology and software providers were named 5-Star Technology award winners.