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Jun 2020

Reasons to be cheerful, part 3

Source: Asia Insurance Review | Apr 2020

For the uninitiated, these are the opening words sung by Ian Dury on his 1977 hit single ‘Reasons to be cheerful, part 3’. In essence the song is a paean to the things in life that make us happy and that make life worth living. 
 
With the general tone of gloom and despondency that has gripped the media and the business world alike in the last month, I thought it might be a good time to forget all the dystopian rhetoric and focus for a change on the good things that are happening in insurance instead.
 
And in that spirit, there will be no mention whatsoever of the ‘c’ word that has been running everyone ragged. Instead, this is my take on ‘reasons to be cheerful’.
 
And the overwhelming reason for the insurance industry to be cheerful can be summed up in one word: InsurTech.
 
I was fortunate enough to go to Sydney for ANZIIF’s InsurTech conference in the middle of February – back in the old days when air travel was safe and toilet paper was plentiful – and I had something of a Eureka! moment.
 
Like many others in the insurance industry, I have been to lots of InsurTech conferences over the years and I have seen countless presentations from start-ups claiming to be essential InsurTechs but that were really nothing more than aggregator websites and comparison apps.
 
Others had interesting offerings but their applications were often so micro that it was obvious that they would only make a marginal difference to any insurance business.
 
But what I saw in Sydney was in another league. Here were InsurTechs that were taking technology applications that had been developed for other business sectors (meteorology, civil defence) and applying them to the business of insurance – and they offered the chance of real change and progress.
 
It reminded me of the early days of the internet when businesses looked upon ‘the information superhighway’ as a competitive business by itself – and only after some years did they figure out that it was a tool that virtually every business on the planet would use to make things quicker, smoother, cheaper.
 
And so it is with InsurTech – which will make insurance businesses quicker, smoother, cheaper.
 
What sorts of InsurTechs? Like Geospatial Intelligence Center, which is a US-based not-for-profit, insurance industry consortium that delivers geospatial imagery and analytics - and the BeThere Group, an Australian technology company specialising in virtual reality and 
3D capture solutions for a range of industries. 
 
These are the sorts of InsurTechs that will change – in a fundamental way – the way that insurance businesses perform in the future.
 
Initiatives included virtual 3D walkthroughs of accident sites, potentially allowing insurers to remotely assess and adjust claims – and imagery and derivatives from flood models and 3D elevation models means that could mean that in future there would be virtually no waiting time for the settlement of claims. 
 
In fire-ravaged areas in the US at present it is possible to assess the damage to 300,000 houses per hour with over 90% accuracy. They can look at satellite images of hail-damaged roofs and estimate the depth of pitting on a house or vehicle roof.
 
There were also InsurTechs dealing with flood protection and prevention and much more besides. InsurTech, in short, is no longer just about the small stuff – it’s about big stuff. It’s about changing the way that insurers perform many functions - quicker, smoother, cheaper.
 
It seems that, irrespective of the insurance business line, there is probably a way to do it better through InsurTech – and that has to be a reason to be cheerful, especially in these times when we need to think a little harder about being nice to others.
 
As Ian Dury said:
“A bit of grin and bear it, a bit of come and share it
You’re welcome we can spare it, yellow socks.”
 
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