September 10, 2012

A new report by A.M. Best suggests a potential opportunity for insurers in Peru. It’s one instance of many such possible opportunities in emerging that CIOs should pay as much attention to as CEOs and CMOs. An announcement about the report shows why:

As premium volume continues to expand on Peru’s strong overall economic growth, the potential for a shift in the way personal lines products are distributed may create more competition in a segment dominated by brokers and two major carriers

A senior business executive might read the report and later consult with the company CIO to discuss initiatives requiring technology support. A competent CIO might respond with varying degrees of creativity about how to apply a variety of technologies, including portals, mobile sales applications, analytics for both marketing and underwriting, etc., etc.

But these conversations should also sometimes happen the other way around. Any shift in the way personal lines products is distributed will include new and unconventional uses of technology — as will just about any outstanding distribution or underwriting play in today’s economic circumstances.

In this vein, Capgemini's Tony Pavia made a thought provoking comment during a recent phone conversation:

In the next five to ten years you’ll see a real separation between those carriers who have a culture of embracing change and those who don't. It's easy to look back to validate that. Look at top ten a decade ago and compare it to today's top ten.

Companies such as Progressive have changed the landscape of personal lines during the last decade with analytics applied to underwriting in new ways. The company's pioneering work in telematics is just now starting to catch on, but is clearly a transformational force. Few companies can have such an enormous influence, but even relatively small companies can make technology plays that can result in tremendous gains in efficiency or foster remarkable growth. For example, Narragansett Bay Insurance Company applied a more granular approach to underwriting homeowners insurance that let it more precisely price properties close to the Atlantic coast. As a result NBIC went from being a $12 million company in early 2009 to a $113 million company in late 2011, when we interviewed CIO Mike Anselmo.

Insurance CIOs have made careers out of their ability to gain significant new efficiencies through the use of the latest technology. Why couldn't some also make a career out of creative exploitation of evolving business opportunities?

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek ...