The insurance industry has reached a point where many executives are also technologists, even if their title has a different designation. What’s driving this, in part, is multiple disciplines working together to further technological progress.
Kathryn Janofsky (pictured), head of underwriting for Beazley Digital, said that the trend has opened enormous possibilities.
“The most positive part for me is to have enjoyed bringing people of such differing backgrounds and differing ways of working together to be delivering on what we are committing to,” Janofsky said. “We’re seeing a greater pace than we have ever seen before, so we are seeing some evidence that this is working.”
Beazley Digital is a relatively small part of Beazley Group, with about 90 employees in a division that launched in January 2022 as part of a tech/innovation reorganization. It combines underwriting, claims, technology and operational experts into a single cross-functional team. The company describes Beazley Digital as a “next generation digital placement experience” for its global brokers looking to place and manage small to medium sized risks more personally, accessibly and quicker than the norm.
Beazley Group, by contrast, employs about 1,700 employees overall, with specialist insurance businesses in Europe, Asia and the United States. It also manages six Lloyd’s syndicates.
Still, Beazley Digital’s operations stand to be highly influential within the broader company, as technology successes and processes are followed and potentially absorbed into Beazley Group’s larger operations over time, Janofsky said.
“We are functioning as a start-up inside of the bigger Beazley, so we have some freedom to experiment with vendors and try new technologies and shape the path of our technologies,” she explained. “We also serve as a center of excellence to the rest of Beazley on API technology and we will be sharing what we build with the broader group.”
Tech all around
According to Janofsky, Beazley Digital came to life as an outgrowth of its digital trading investments across various parts of its businesses.
“We realized that in order to drive efficiency, scale and greater profitability, we would need to collect those assets together and invest in them properly as opposed to in the more disparate way we had been investing in them,” Janofsky said. “We made the decision to bring all of the units that are currently either trading on digital platforms, or the portfolios [we believe] will lend themselves well to digitization and we moved all of that business together” starting January 01, 2022.
Janofsky reports to Ian Fantozzi, CEO of Beazley Digital, and James Wright serves as head of technology for the unit. Janofsky, a commercial insurance industry veteran with more than 20 years of casualty and specialty lines underwriting, oversees global underwriting strategy and leads teams in North America, Europe and the UK. She is also leading Beazley Digital through its cross-functional team strategy, where the cross-team technology sharing comes in.
“We are underwriting, technology and operations, all sharing the same P&L (profit and loss) and making investment decisions together,” she said.
By contrast, the rest of Beazley has separate divisions each headed by an underwriting team, with technology and operations sitting outside those units in Beazley Group proper.
Janofsky has daily meetings with the head of technology, head of operations, Beazley Digital’s CEO and business manager to talk about the challenges the division faces and make quick decisions to pivot as needed.
“While we are investing in our technology stack, we want to make sure we are pitching ourselves properly to our trading partners, so we have organized the rest of the division around our trading channels … [including] a US broker platform, UK and rest-of-world broker platform and global API work market hubs,” Janofsky said.
There will also be email and voice elements in those systems, because the company recognizes that both “will continue to be a majority of how we trade with our broker partners as the technology landscape develops,” she added.
A technologist by necessity
Janofsky said that her job with Beazley Digital requires her to be familiar with the company’s digital investments, such as its API work and data contracts the company is negotiating around its global submission and product APIs. She’s also in the know on vendors the company is using to build its tech stack (including some insurtechs) as well as companies Beazley Digital is reviewing for future partnerships. Additionally, Janofsky tracks data/analytics efforts at the company.
As a head of underwriting, Janofsky said it is crucial today to embrace technology as part of the job. Part of that reason, she said, is because Beazley Digital trades in the small-to-medium enterprise space and must control the expense around placement. Broader than that, however, is the necessity of using multiple technologies to compete in today’s market. That means being a technologist is no longer just for the head tech exec.
“The change is both the acceleration of digital adoption in the marketplace and then the changes that the pandemic brought to electronic placement,” Janofsky said. “Everyone is looking to reduce overhead among rising costs, people are investing in more and more technology, and we’ve got to be able to meet them where they want to trade.”
With technology a key part of Janofsky’s job, she’s been working closely with Wright as they shape Beazley Digital’s focus and technology direction.
“One of the things we realized very early in our conversations is that underwriters and technologists don’t speak the same language, and if we were going to be successful in this, we were going to have to come up with a mutual language as well,” Janofsky said. “We’ve been building that.”