IB Talk

Exploring the changing risk factors in the technology industry

 

Technology has become a vital force engrained in our society. While it has enriched our lives for the better, a whole new wave of risks come with the rise of AI and new advancements.  

The idea that technology can now cause bodily injury or property damage is very real, and also very different to how things were ten, even five years ago.  

Whether you’re a broker or insurer, don’t miss the latest episode of IB Talk for a comprehensive guide to the new wave of technological advancements and what potential risks are on the horizon.  

Understand how these risks affect arising technology, like AI and the metaverse, and gain critical insights on how insurers can prepare themselves. Learn how emerging technologies will develop over the next decade, and what precautions insurers can take to combat these risks as well as how they can use new technologies to their advantage. 

Don’t miss this exclusive look into the future of technology, and how brokers and insurers can best position themselves in an ever-changing landscape.

 

To view full transcript, please click here

Narrator: Welcome to IB Talk, the leading podcast for the insurance industry across the United States brought to you by Insurance Business. 

Narrator 2: This episode is presented in partnership with The Hartford in the latest episode of IB Talk, Andrew Zukowski Technology Industry Practice Lead at The Hartford joins us to discuss how emerging technologies will develop over the next decade and what precautions insurers and brokers can take to combat the risks, as well as use new technologies to their advantage. 

Jen: Welcome back to IB Talk. I'm Jen Frost, North America editor for Insurance Business. Joining me is Andrew Zukowski Technology Industry practice lead at the Hartford. Today we're going to be delving into new technologies like the metaverse and what they mean for the insurance industry and insurers. Andrew, welcome to the show. 

Andrew: Thank you for having me. It's a pleasure to be here. 

Jen: Well, it's great having you on board. Andrew. Can you give our listeners a quick snapshot of your industry experience? 

Andrew: Yeah, thank you for that. So I started my career in Boston as an underwriter for a large national underwriting firm working within their technology industry. And I moved over quickly to the Hartford for to our global technology practice underwriting exclusively technology companies, mainly starting in the Boston area, but then did work with with companies within the New York City territory as well as some other areas around the country. I now lead the global technology practice for the Hartford, where we focus and specialize on technology companies in all sizes, from startups all the way through global multinational companies. 

Jen: Okay. Okay. So you've always kind of been underwriting within the technology space. What got you interested in tech? 

Andrew: So I really have always enjoyed technology. Ever since I was a youngster and going through school, I didn't do, I do not have a background specifically in technology. I actually have a finance and business background, but I've always enjoyed it. And growing up in my career in the Boston area, there's a tremendous amount of technology and innovation in that area coming out of mainly the large universities such as Harvard and MIT. And it was just a great opportunity to be able to to go into an industry that's a really older, more established industry and also be able to have some focus and on a more innovative and exciting industry like the technology industry. What I think is most interesting is, is technology changes so quickly and it's also part of our everyday lives. When I started underwriting and working with technology companies, a lot of technology was was for the most part in the background. It was at corporate offices. But now we're in a world where everybody's got technology in their pocket, literally, and it's just a fun place to to be and a fun opportunity to work with technology companies on a day to day basis. 

Jen: Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it sounds like a really exciting space to be in. And as mentioned today, we're discussing emerging technologies and the insurance impact. So why is this such an important talking point for you right now? 

Andrew: Yeah, I think technology in general and emerging technology is a really exciting time to be talking about that and the connection to the insurance industry. One of the things that makes it exciting for my role is that the insurance industry has historically been an industry that's that's really had a lot of foundation in in data, which is something that the technology industry obviously holds near and dear. But it's really the time frame that you start thinking about data. So when you're in the insurance industry, you start thinking about looking at historical data that might be three, five, 20, maybe even 50 years worth of data when you get into the technology industry and specifically the emerging technology industry, these these different sub industries within the technology industry haven't existed for that long. They haven't existed anywhere near that long. So what the challenge is and what I find is an exciting opportunity is that you have the opportunity to to be within an industry that is used to having all this data but not having it for the technology industry. And you have to come up with new and creative and inventive ways to to underwrite and insure technology companies without all of the historical data that other industries have. 

Jen: And what new types of technology are creating these sort of never before considered risks. 

Andrew: So I think about a couple of things. When I when I look at the the newer technologies and some of the newer risks. So again, going back historically in the tech space, you tend to have virtual or intangible products. There's software, there's services. But when you go back ten, 20 years in the world of technology, you just you just don't have a lot of tangible items. As we're moving forward in the tech space, there's more and more of the technology is becoming more physical and more tangible. So I give a couple examples that you could think about. You have sensors with smart technology, so it's not just a piece of software. It's not just something that might monitor the water flow, but it actually might monitor it, alert somebody and even take the next step of actually turning off the water if it's appropriate. So now all of a sudden, you're you're in a world where it's not just intangible. If that product, that smart sensor or that. Internet of Things. A lot of IOT, a lot of people refer to it as if that is programmed incorrectly. You could actually cause or you could have prevented a property damage type of claim. I also look at industries like the autonomy industry, so people think a lot about autonomous vehicles and those are potentially coming sometime in the future. But there's also a lot of autonomous vehicles here today that you think about in warehouses or manufacturing plants. These are machines and run by software that are acting basically independently from human interaction. And again, scenarios where if the autonomous machine does something inappropriately, it potentially could cause property damage and bodily injury. So you're just in a scenario where you have a move, a shift. When I'm thinking about risk, a shift from more of the intangible to potentially more tangible, which impacts how you would think about the world of insurance and risk mitigation. 

Jen: And I mean, when we think about intangible and tangible technology, I think one thing that does certainly spring to mind is the metaverse. And Andrew what does this sort of actually look like and how does this intersect with the physical world? 

Andrew: Yeah. So when I think about the metaverse, I think about a couple of different things. The first thing is just this overarching idea that the digital world and a physical world are coming together. I often say that it's more than goggles and games, right? So, you know, people think metaverse. They think about wearing the sort of the funny goggles and, you know, playing some some sort of fun game with your friends, which is definitely a big part of it. But there's a lot more to the metaverse than that. And it's really more in the industrial and the commercial side. And when I think about those types of areas, you think about physical products being sold with what is called their digital twin. So a digital version of those products. So now you've got a physical product, you've got an intangible product coming together. That's where that intersection comes to play. And again, there's additional risks that need to be thought of when you start dealing with a physical product and a intangible product that are really together as as one product that that are together. I also think about some other areas within how the the metaverse or immersive type of technology is going to change the way that we work and we operate. You you hear a lot of stories about companies that may have meetings in the metaverse and you might be able to meet with each other within the metaverse. And that that I think is interesting. But I think what's even more interesting, I think more real, more tangible, are some of the things that are happening, particularly within augmented reality. I'll give you an example. I was at a conference, a metaverse specific conference this past December, and I was able I had the opportunity to go to one of the vendors that was there and put on a pair of augmented reality goggles, and they asked me, Have I ever fixed a turbine before? And if I have not, I'll be rest assured to everybody. I don't know how to fix a turbine on my own, but they put on these pair of glasses relatively lightweight, almost like sunglasses, and I could see through them normally, but it also had pop ups for what screws I needed to unscrew, what pieces I needed to fix, and how to screw and put it all back together. So essentially me, somebody who has never repaired a turbine, never worked on a turbine before. I was able to do that job with the use of technology. And what I think is exciting about that. I think that could change the dynamics of training and and helping newer employees get up and running faster. But I also think about the dynamic of the person doing the work is now all of a sudden, obviously extremely important, consistently important over over time. But there's a new addition to that that now all of a sudden the technology that's being that's being implemented to help that worker is also extremely important as you're starting to think about how to maintain, fix or install a product. 

Jen: Well, yeah, I mean, that sounds like an incredible learning aid and incredible teaching aid. Andrew When we sort of think about how insureds are using some of these new technologies at the moment, how do you see usage kind of developing over the next 5 to 10 years? 

Andrew: Yeah, it's a really good question. And one of the things I've learned over time is to try hard not to not to pretend like I could predict the future, particularly 5 to 10 years for technology. But I do I do see that there really is going to be an advancement for being able to speed up processes and reducing cost and reaching new markets. And I'll give you a couple of examples about what I see happening. And I think a lot of folks are they ask me questions about are you know, about autonomous products or the metaverse or immersive technology about when will it come. And the reality is that a lot of it's here today. This is not going to be a scenario where yesterday we didn't have anything autonomous and tomorrow we do. It's going. To be slowly over time, kind of coming into it and I get back to one of the concepts I was talking about with a digital twin. So Digital Twin is a digital version of a product. So you start thinking about if you instead of needing to make a actual model and creating a product and prototyping it, if you could do all of that in a digital world, you could speed up research and development times by an immense amount, and that that could really change how folks work on it within the manufacturing industry. 

Andrew: As an example, another thing that we've seen are something like document review. So you think about legal document review that could be assisted by artificial intelligence. And when I when I think about those two examples and there's a lot more than that, of course, I think about how technology companies are going to need to converge and think like non technology companies and vice versa. So as an example, getting back to that legal doc review, you can't just rely on somebody who knows technology or artificial intelligence to create that. You're going to need assistance from people who understand the legal industry, maybe your clients. So there's this opportunity where there's going to be a generation of products, where there's going to need to be technology folks involved as well as you could call them creative or industry folks coming in at the same time and working together. And that's going to lead to a lot of innovation in my my opinion, and a lot of opportunity for the technology folks to bring more of their their ability into the equation as well as as the industry folks from the different fields being able to bring bring theirs into the equation as well. 

Jen: It sounds like almost a real sort of mindset shift for some of these organizations. 

Andrew: Yeah, I do think that you're going to see a little bit of a mindset and I think about it as convergence. You know, I think that when you, when you're in an industry outside of technology, IT technology is not a department. It's not something that you outsource. It's really, it's going to need to be part of virtually every company. And when you think about technology companies, if you really want to be understand your your industry, you're going to need to be deep within that industry. And I think that there's going to be a lot of opportunity for innovation as you start to to blend the worlds together. 

Jen: And I mean, Andrew, for some folks, this is going to be fairly unknown territory. It's almost a bit of a brave new world. So for the companies that are already developing or are already sort of early adopters of these technologies, what are the risks that they and their underwriters really need to be aware of? 

Andrew: Yeah, so we spend a lot of time at that. Within the Hartford's technology practice, we've focus all of our attention on ensuring and underwriting the technology industry because we feel like we need to be ahead or on equal ground with the technology industry to keep up with all all of the trends. One of the bigger trends that I do see is that as you think about automating more in technology and and removing the human checks and balances, there's opportunities where I don't think there's necessarily new risk potentially, but the risk of things getting worse faster are are very possible. So, you know, a couple examples about in the world of creating an artificial intelligence software that, you know, in the olden days would be done by a person that could do, you know, maybe a ten, 20 or maybe a few hundred different files in a particular month. They're moving to an artificial intelligence software that can maybe do that amount in a day. But if you get something wrong as part of that, as part of that, that software or part of that algorithm, you have the opportunity to have a positive or negative impact on those people in a in a much on your customers in a much bigger fashion. So when I do think about the early adopters, it's really making sure that they understand the technology, They understand I think one of the key points is understanding the data and where the data is coming from and making sure that they have the right checks and balances in plate to mitigate some of the risks that's out there. 

Jen: Absolutely. Absolutely. And of course, the Hartford is clearly engaging on this. How prepared are insurers in general to cover these emerging risks? 

Andrew: So I think that we have one of the unique advantages of we have a very large client base and we learn a ton from our client base. We have over 125,000 technology customers everywhere from the smallest of the startups to the largest of the global firms. And we spend a lot of time talking to our clients and learning from them to stay ahead of it. We also have the opportunity of having a very large technology team internally that does a lot with artificial intelligence and the like, so we can spend some time with them to learn more and more about that. And where we really try to come into play is matching the 200 plus year history of the Hartford and one of the largest databases of workers comp and employee benefits claims to take all of that data to apply it to an industry. And as I mentioned earlier in the podcast, we this is an industry that doesn't have a lot of data, so you need to be able to have other sources of information to help you underwrite and help your clients mitigate risk. 

Jen: And of course I feel like it would be somewhat remiss if we didn't touch on this. We've spoken about how clients are using these technologies and all the sort of cool benefits that there could be in addition to perhaps some of the risks that come with them. How might you see the insurance industry itself capitalizing on some of these technologies moving forward? 

Andrew: I think there's a lot that the insurance industry could use from these technologies. I think that where the insurance industry is going to be moving towards is how to help our clients mitigate or prevent risk before it even happens. And I think about things like IOT water sensors. So as an example, if you install water sensors all over a large building before a leak happens or right when the leak starts to happen, we can shut down the water and prevent a loss from even even happening. Another example is using artificial intelligence to look at satellite pictures of roofs, to understand, to detect damage that we see on the roof as we're going through the underwriting process and to help our clients understand what what types of roofs they have and where they could potentially mitigate and and reduce some of their risk. 

Jen: Andrew Zukowski, thank you very much for joining me today. 

Andrew: Thank you. It's been a pleasure. 

Jen: And thank you to everyone for tuning in. We'll catch you next time here on IB Talk. 

Narrator 2: Thank you for listening to this episode of IBA Talk for more from the team at The Hartford. Visit them at thehartford.com. Thank you for listening to IB Talk. For the latest episodes, be sure to follow us on all major listening channels. 

 

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