To outsiders, insurance can seem a somewhat staid industry. But while that might have been true even a decade ago, the rush to digitisation has made insurance one of the most innovatively exciting places to be.

Since 2016, many of the best projects have gone head-to-head at the annual Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards, which recognise the insurers and insurtech firms that are transforming the industry.

This year will mark the sixth awards programme. It celebrates the world’s most innovative projects and ideas in the field, while offering organisations a forum for sharing best practices.

Last year there were 360 entries from 240 institutions operating across 45 countries, with the winners coming from Australia, Belgium, Germany, India, Italy and South Africa. (You can read more about 2020’s winners here.) This truly is a global contest.

This year’s categories are:

  • Global Innovator (overall winner)
  • Connected Insurance & Ecosystems
  • Core Insurance Transformation
  • Customer Experience
  • Insurtech
  • Product & Service Innovation
  • Workforce Transformation

Each entry will be assessed using three criteria: originality; its strategic capacity to generate a long-term competitive edge and return on investment; and its adaptability for use in other markets and countries. Submissions can be made online until April 2, with the winners announced at a virtual ceremony on June 3.

Brokers: A helping hand

The good news is that you don’t have to wait until June to find out who’s innovating right now in the insurance space. We’re also running a monthly contest based on submissions for this year’s award.

January’s winner was Azur with Smart Home – an underwriting solution launched in 2019 on the Azur Hub, and that uses technologies like machine-learning, big data and an API to help brokers.

Although many customers rely on brokers to give them risk advice when buying homes and contents insurance, Azur points out that the greater part of innovation in this personal insurance space focuses on the customer experience.

While that focus is understandable, Azur is right to say insurers have expended less effort to help make the broker’s job easier – even as brokers come under increasing pressure from price comparison sites.

Azur’s Smart Home fills this gap, creating a modern broker experience that uses blended proprietary and third-party property data to help in four areas:

  • Tailored product coverage based on more accurate risk data
  • A superior broker experience, which requires customers to answer just eight questions, with the ability to self-serve in just 90 seconds
  • Improved productivity and profitability for brokers
  • A slick front-end that requires answers to just five basic customer questions, with an API-driven back-end that collects data for 62 other rating factors (like market value and square footage)

In this way, Smart Home ensures brokers can give clients blanket building cover as well as unlimited contents and global all-risks cover – and can do so more efficiently and with better margins.

Digital steps forward

Smart Home has a number of unique advantages. That includes straight-through processing throughout the lifecycle – generating not just the full quote on a self-service basis, but also supporting new business, renewals, mid-term adjustments and cancellations. Smart Home also fully integrates broker billing.

That makes brokers more efficient and helps them to grow their business. Not surprisingly, says Azur, Smart Home has generated plenty of positive feedback: brokers have a high-quality product on AIG paper that helps them to compete against price comparison sites.

Smart Home also generates more accurate underwriting for Azur as it looks up 30 million mortgage surveys and enhances that data with the company’s claims history.

Being a simple self-service solution also saves brokers time, and means they needn’t resort to using email or a phone. And its full lifecycle, the self-service tool ensures they can buy online at home with little fuss.

Azur CEO Graham Elliott says the solution puts his firm “where all insurers and MGAs want to be”.

“We have the wind at our back, but know that others are catching up fast,” he says. “In addition, Smart Home is having a significant leverage effect on our revenue growth, with little increase in fixed costs.”

Elliott says the award is recognition for the team that put together Smart Home, including its customers and brokers, as well as the firm’s underwriting and technology staff. He also credits partners like Salesforce, which provided the core platform, and Outra, which provides the enriched risk data.

Our congratulations to Azur for winning January’s contest. Look out for our next blog where we’ll highlight February’s winner.

Disclaimer: This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors.
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