Organizations often miss a crucial step in their drive to acquire and implement technology as a means to remain competitive. The ability of commercial insurance brokers to leverage data and analytics to bring in new business, write policies, and provide added value to their clients is about more than selecting the best risk management information system (RMIS). To get the most out of the investment in technology and become a digital leader, a brokerage should first assess if essential foundational elements are present.
The next-level broker
A next-level brokerage is a firm that has undergone the process of digital transformation, a term that CIO contributor Mark Edmead defines in Digital Transformation: Why its important to your organization as “the acceleration of business activities, processes, competencies and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of digital technologies and their impact in a strategic and prioritized way.”
An anonymously attributed response to the Commercial Property/Casualty Market Index (Q4/2018) survey question, “What opportunities for commercial insurance brokers do you see?” can be also be read as a more specific description of the next-level broker. He or she is able to “maximize use of technologies and analytics to grow business and do so with reduced expenses.” Furthermore, the next-level broker has the “[i]ncreased ability to target growth in select industries via use of data and analytics.” Finally, he or she is able to “[i]dentify new ways via technology and through the use of data and analytics, to solicit, write, and service business.”
Analytics functionality is an essential component in the digital transformation into a next-level brokerage. However, the act of putting a RMIS in place (or modernizing an existing system) doesn’t mean that all expectations around analytics will automatically be met. The right mix of people and data must also be present.
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Data silos not only create obstacles to effective operations, but can also directly affect your bottom line. Listed below are five common issues associated with siloed data and ways to avoid them.
1. Creates a dependency on inefficient external reporting applications
Multiple platform architecture complicates the reporting process. While third-party reporting tools can be used to analyze data across multiple systems and produce unified reports, there are costs incurred. Forrester reports that nearly half of all data professionals spend at least as much time prepping data as they do analyzing it. This inefficiency worsens in cases where reporting reveals a need to modify how data is captured or organized, forcing analysts and IT resources to trace data all the way back to its original source and then make changes.
In some cases, third-party reporting tools can also create a gulf between those who master the reporting technology and those seeking answers from the reports. In a recent interview, Christopher Ittner, chair of the accounting department at The Wharton School, discussed how this division affects the business process:
“What we are finding is that in a lot of companies, there are great data scientists and great business people but what is missing is business people who know enough data analytics to say, ‘Here is the problem I would like you to help me with.’ And then they can take the outcome from the data scientists and see how they can best leverage it. That is where we must get to in the next couple of years if we want to take advantage of the digital technologies.”
Providing users with direct access to reporting that requires no prep work solves both issues. End users can become their own data analysts and answer the business questions that apply to their work. Without the requirement to master the technical process of assembling, scrubbing, and joining data from multiple systems, reporting becomes more efficient, effective, and scalable.
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Managing certificates of insurance (COIs) has always been a challenge. With increasing pressure on the budgets of state and local governments, dedicating the resources required to effectively manage this process can mean sacrificing time spent on other core functions. Relying on color-coded spreadsheets and a manual review process often leads to unsustainable procedures that fail to scale and adapt as an organization grows.
COI management is risk management
Although the process can be a time-draining administrative exercise, COI management is fundamental to managing risk transfer. The article Contractual Risk Transfer Issues: Reviewing Certificates of Insurance highlights the important role COIs play in risk management, noting, “Because many liability losses occur through the transfer of risk, it has become necessary for a Risk Control Consultant to assess the hazards and controls arising from contracts and agreements in a fashion similar to identifying other hazards, such as exposed wiring or missing guardrails.”
Most public entities are obligated to carefully monitor COI compliance in order to control unidentified risk transfer. Yet the administrative burden associated with endless cycles of hunting down updates and monitoring for expirations or deficiencies can easily exhaust any department. Given the mandate public entities have to stretch every resource to the furthest extent possible, the tension between the importance of an effective COI management process and the toll it takes on those managing it is difficult to resolve.
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Technology can play a pivotal role in improving claims management by providing adjusters, claims managers, and other stakeholders with direct, centralized access to the pertinent claims information that they need to do their jobs. As Improving claims administration with an integrated solution points out, centralizing claims data in an integrated system “that combines workflow automation tools with all of the functionality needed for end-to-end claims adjusting can be transformative.” This is especially true when the system is used to streamline claims handling processes, increase adjuster productivity, and inform decisions that contribute to swift, cost-effective claim closure.
Improving incident reporting, controlling costs, and closing claims more quickly certainly count as claim management “wins.” Yet, as Christopher Mandel points out in Next-Level Claim Strategies, there is the potential to take claims management to an even higher level.
“Just when you thought risk managers understood and had explored all the opportunities around optimizing the claims management function, next-level opportunities emerge,” he writes at the outset of the article, which examines the shared goals, motivations, and hurdles that make up the “long minimized and largely untapped synergy between casualty claims (risk management) and the benefits world.”
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This is the third in a series of five brief articles on key data issues identified by several prominent risk managers at leading UK and European companies. Recently, they participated in a roundtable on future-proofing management information (MI). The event was co-hosted by Gallagher Basset and Origami Risk.
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