Bringing innovation to the construction industry is no easy feat, but one insurer has been on a mission to do just that.
A few years ago, AXA XL’s North American construction business was fielding inquiries from start-ups looking to work with the insurer’s customers, which include a number of North America’s top contractors, by piloting their various technologies. At the same time, those customers started reaching out to the construction team, asking about new tools in the marketplace that could help them do their work more safely and effectively.
In turn, the team decided to launch a series of pilots centred around the key risks facing insureds, focusing first on the weather, environmental sensors, and 360-degree imagery – all tested out with digital tools via 90-day pilots meant to capture customer feedback, how each technology worked, and, ultimately, what the team’s role was at AXA XL in facilitating relationships between tech companies and insureds.
“We viewed this, as we started to do pilots, as an opportunity to grow closer with customers and help solve some of their biggest business challenges,” said Justin Gress, director of strategic operations for North America at AXA XL, during a Future of Insurance USA session.
Along the way, the AXA XL construction team realized that customers had several notable dilemmas. First off, they didn’t know which technology to select and how much to pay for it. Customers also recognized that the data was not connected in any way between technologies, so it was difficult to see how key insights had any correlation to one another. Finally, customers were curious about being benchmarked against their peers, from both a claims and technology perspective.
To address these challenges, the AXA XL team built an ecosystem that acts as an integrated digital experience connecting all of the different technology services and data points that it has between itself, third parties, and customers. Today, the ecosystem is a gateway that leverages network effects, explained Gress, while also integrating data and being completely enabled by technology, like APIs.
“We set out to … establish ourselves as even more of a trusted resource. We were very much a trusted resource when it came to [customers’] insurance and risk needs, but [we needed to be] expanding that into construction technology and data, and truly curating solutions that they’ll find viable and valuable,” said Gress, adding that the team has also focused on developing partnerships that ultimately could lead to better insights via predictive analytics, as well as making sure not to lose the human element.
“It isn’t just about technology or what they’re able to see on the screen – we want to empower our AXA XL risk engineers to identify opportunities via the data and share that with our customers in a way that’s very proactive and actionable,” he continued.
For 2021, the construction team is looking to make its ecosystem available to a larger customer cohort, though the AXA XL leader predicts that similar ecosystems will soon become the norm in the construction insurance business. Until then, the AXA XL business stands out in the marketplace with this digital offering.
“There are others looking at developing similar solutions in the future, so it’s an opportune time to try to move quickly and get something to market that we’re very proud of,” Gress explained. “For AXA XL, it’s a differentiator. It’s a way to attract new customers, as well as hopefully retain existing ones and truly show how we’re different when it comes to thought leadership.”