NMU Executive Director, Nick Limb, talks about his love for technology but scepticism of InsurTech without human support
I love technology!
As anyone who knows me would steadfastly confirm, I’m a total tech geek. Anything that could be remotely described as electronic gadgetry will be in my possession and if it comes with an Apple, Android or Amazon sticker all the better. I have them all and constantly update to the latest versions whenever they are released.
Since childhood, I’ve been an avid reader of anything I could get my hands on, be it encyclopaedias or dictionaries to the Famous Five or Secret Seven.
So, when Sir Tim Berners-Lee, together with a few clever Americans invented the Worldwide Web, it was like alchemy to me that so much information was available at the touch of a button. When laptop computers, then smartphones and tablets appeared, the joy of having the knowledge of the world in the palm of your hand was an indescribable joy.
The dilemma I have though, is how to encourage and adapt this into our business, when fundamentally, I believe that specialist personal experience, knowledge and instinct are still vital tools in the underwriting of risk.
I was taught the old-fashioned way.
Learn the business, understand the concept and nature of risk, eidetically memorise the policy wording and always look after the customer because if you don’t, someone else will.
The challenge therefore that I, and all of my colleagues at NMU face over the next few years, is combining these worlds. The aim being to use technology to support our business and our people, ensuring our skills are both improved and adapted upon so that our business is efficient and our products are in demand.
It is so exciting to see what the market is developing - from Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning to Chatbots, Peer to Peer (P2P), On Demand Protection and the Internet of Things (IOT). The list is ever growing and these trends are only the tip of the iceberg of advancements in InsurTech, yet they provide a glimpse into the future of insurance.
A recent conference I attended focussed on disruption to every link in the insurance value chain, digging deep to extract costs, improving the customer experience, maximising transparency, simplifying all processes, lessening friction, empowering and delighting customers, minimising moral hazard and fraud, employing big data, and even making the claims process pleasurable.
Here at NMU and within our parent Company Munich Re, there is so much development - from apps to assist with claims handling, to sensors for cargo tracking and temperature monitoring that will not only make life easier for our customers to contact us, but help to manage risk and assist in refining our underwriting skills.
What we cannot unlearn though, is the getting hands dirty approach. Delving under the bonnet and kicking the tyres of a risk tells us what we really need to know and not what people think we should know.
Blending old skills with the new is vital -not as a substitute, but rather in support of.
We will work tirelessly to make sure our Underwriters are visual, knowledgeable, accessible and empowered to deliver our products to you. All businesses have to adapt to survive and at NMU, we are not immune to the changing landscape of the industry. Cost control in any business is essential for prosperity and in the insurance business, it is becoming ever increasingly so.
We will ensure that our product distribution can be delivered more efficiently and expediently and at the same time continue to work very hard to make sure that our customer journey is as “personal” as we have always endeavoured to make it.
One thing is inevitable though, technology moves so quickly and as I used to program my dad’s VCR, my own son will eventually send in his robot to pat me on the head and bring in my slippers.
Embrace it, let technology take the strain, but let us keep the human touch - so important in a people business.