London’s end-to-end digital ecosystem for specialty business is taking shape

Blog -- 01 June 2021

Author: Ian Summers, CEO, Sequel

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It has long been a dream in the London Market to have consistent data flowing seamlessly through every stage of the insurance process, allowing business to be quoted, bound and settled electronically, quickly, accurately and efficiently. That dream is becoming reality as an end-to-end digital ecosystem is taking shape in the specialty market.

All the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle are now in place thanks to the many tools and solutions brought to market by Sequel and other software and technology providers. However, market participants need a solution that makes doing business easier from beginning to end, not just one part of the transaction. While some of today’s solutions integrate seamlessly, many were built in isolation, so work is still required to bring them all together.

Demand for APIs is on the rise as brokers and insurers rightly strive for frictionless service. However, APIs do not simply plug and play with each other; they need careful management. As the market continues to be flooded with APIs built to different standards, this means London’s ‘Portal Wars’ will only get worse, and the complex web of distinct broker, carrier and market portals in the market – each with their own logins, API standards and data protocols – will only get harder to navigate.

This challenge can be overcome if the market communicates in one consistent language, which is why Sequel has donated its IP and collaborated with ACORD and a group of leading managing agents to develop the Sequel Unifying Risk Transfer Standard (SURTS) – an open data and API standard which will allow data to travel unimpeded through the London insurance chain (and globally) before the end of 2021.

Blueprint Two and the shift to digital working through the pandemic have catalysed a real sense of purpose and a new investment phase in the market, which is exciting to see. Most firms now know what needs to be done to modernise their operations and, as one of the managing agents involved recently put it, SURTS “puts a speedboat in the water” to help London get where it needs to be even quicker than outlined under Blueprint Two.

While Lloyd’s has historically driven digitisation in the market by investing large sums and plentiful resources into developing central market systems, it’s encouraging to see the commercial marketplace taking the bull by the horns and proactively developing the solutions it needs to realise the vision set out under Blueprint Two.

Much of the innovation that has occurred in the market to date has focused on claim settlement and back-end processes but now many companies across the market are initiating ambitious projects to modernise their front-end systems – the fruits of which will be seen in the coming months and years.

Sequel’s recent acquisition of Whitespace is a key step in driving greater front-end efficiency in the specialty space, uniting Sequel’s suite of broking, underwriting, claims and distribution solutions with the excellent user experience of Whitespace’s intuitive, data-driven interface, which has seen wide take-up in the London Market. Data travelling through this ecosystem is then augmented with third-party data and analytics to inform i better decisions at every stage of the insurance process, from risk selection to exposure management.

Seamless interconnectivity and high-quality data also lay the foundation for game-changing AI, machine learning, modelling and automation to be plugged into the ecosystem over time to further enhance participants’ ability to write the right business at the right price. Regardless of which vendors or platforms a broker or insurer uses, this is the model the whole market should aspire to within the next year or two, with risk and policy data flowing seamlessly from end to end, overlayed with cutting edge tools that will help improve the quality of business written in London and the performance of its participants. 

Indeed, building an integrated ecosystem does not mean building a monopoly in which leading vendors’ systems and clients only interact with each other. For London to reap the benefits of digitisation, all market participants must be able to seamlessly communicate and transact in near real-time or efficiencies will be lost. 

Even the most cutting-edge solutions are worthless if users do not have willing and able trading partners. There is an increasing willingness among brokers and insurers to collaborate and share data in pursuit of creating an efficient London ecosystem, which is great to see. It is also healthy for participants to have a choice of placement platforms – or use multiple platforms if it suits their business model – and any modern system must therefore be designed to work with as many third-party and market systems as possible.

Competition among tech providers also ensures products and services in the market continue to evolve and improve. Data standards will allow new suppliers to continue to enter the market knowing there are common workflows. This creates an even playing field in which innovation and competition can flourish – a diverse and truly end-to-end digital ecosystem which will benefit the market as a whole.

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