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Adapting and collaborating: the lessons of 2020

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ACORD’s Chris Newman reflects on the ever-stronger case for accelerating modernisation of the London market as part of the wider (re)insurance ecosystem

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When we look back on the most widely-used global business jargon of 2020, we should expect that “adaptability” will be right alongside the popularity of the phrase “I think you’re on mute.”

The London insurance market has often been perceived as particularly slow to adapt, but this year, we’ve seen what’s possible and real progress is happening. We’ve socially distanced ourselves, but we are adapting by actually working more closely together.

This year the necessity of working remotely and engaging digitally with both customers and industry partners was forced upon us, regardless of our intent.

Many throughout the industry had already embraced the digitisation imperative, but now even the most previously sceptical can no longer dismiss its necessity. The challenges of 2020 were also a wake-up call to the importance of coming together to focus on how to manage the London market’s massive data needs in the following ways:

  • Leveraging a consistent logical and physical data model for transactions

    We need to speak the same language to achieve digital interoperability. With machine-mediated transactions, slight differences in terminology create real challenges. Data standards are critical.

  • Embedding technology in business and vice versa

    It is not enough to simply translate the same old processes to the most obvious digital equivalent. A digital value chain is taking form. Insurance stakeholders must carefully consider the possibilities and revise their operating models to take advantage of industry data standards, new technology and new ways of working.

  • Enabling straight-through processing

    It’s a familiar term by now, but too many stakeholders still rely on manually intensive processes to transform and transmit their data. The potential gains in efficiency, accuracy, and flexibility through data certainty and automation are too great to be ignored.

One of the most prominent examples of meaningful collaboration is the release of Lloyd’s Blueprint Two, a plan of action to advance the Future at Lloyd’s. As ACORD Data Standards are deeply embedded in the London Market, we have seen a long and fruitful history of collaboration between Lloyd’s, ACORD, the various market associations, and many other global stakeholders—a collaboration which is now more critical than ever.

Those who understand the changes underway in the global insurance ecosystem know that collaboration is necessary to achieve global interoperability.

ACORD brings together London market leaders from the major technology vendors to the newest InsurTechs, the world’s major carriers and brokers, and the organisations on the forefront of change, such as the International Underwriting Association The Lloyd's Market Association, the London & International Insurance Brokers' Association, and Placing Platform Limited.

Together we are using a common set of data standards which will enable the market to effectively manage our global market’s vast array of structured and unstructured data, spanning generations of technology from PDF documents, spreadsheets and image files to JSON, APIs, and micro-services.

As an industry-owned body, ACORD continues to play a pivotal role in ensuring the alignment of the many initiatives undertaking similar modernisation efforts within the global ecosystem.

By avoiding duplication of effort or divergence, this prevents incurring significant unnecessary costs to the industry. London market collaboration, nurtured via the ACORD London Advisory Board and a solid working relationship between the Future at Lloyd’s programme and the ACORD community, seeks to ensure continued alignment and maintain a clear path to data exchange that everyone can follow.

The process is slow, our market is complex, and none of this is easy, but progress is happening, and perhaps this time the pace is changing.

We must continue in our work to modernise our industry and to meet the needs of the future—because the future is already here.

More and more transactions happening on mobile apps, the Internet of Things, and other emerging technologies and channels requiring new capabilities for more easily consumable data transfer.

Data consistency, quality, and standardisation have become more crucial today than ever before, and we must all become thoughtfully data-driven organisations to thrive in the coming environment.

Chris Newman is managing director – Global at ACORD

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