Finding creative solutions to complex problems
For Tim Rayner, CEO of Verisk Specialty Business Solutions, a digital-first ethos is vital for the industry’s success
How does your previous experience help you in your new role as CEO of Verisk SBS?
Being laser-focused on the needs of the client is critical in this role. Prior to joining Verisk SBS, I was on the buyer side of the market for 18 years with Miller, and my most recent position at Verisk was in the client-facing role of Chief Experience Officer, so I know what works for buyers and what doesn’t. Clients don’t want products – they want solutions. That potentially means using a combination of our products configured to help them overcome unique sets of challenges.
What is the biggest challenges insurers face in harnessing new tech?
For the first time in my career, the evolution of technology is outpacing the capability and appetite of the market. Whether you are an insurer, broker or coverholder, the ability to harness change often comes down to culture. It’s a lot easier to carry on doing what you've always done, even if that is paper-based and highly inefficient. No party can drive the transition from analogue to digital alone. You need everyone to buy into the benefits – and that takes a cultural shift.
How can MGAs provide a more customer-centric experience in a competitive market?
Digital trading is all about giving end customers access to global markets in the most efficient manner possible. If we can take excess operational costs and fees out of the distribution chain and help underwriters price risks more accurately, that ultimately enables MGAs to offer end customers more attractive pricing and terms, tailored solutions and access to global capacity in real-time rather than through inefficient analogue channels.
With climate change presenting significant future risks, what advice would you give for insurers?
It is essential insurers factor climate change projected over any given exposure period into their pricing models. The first thing to check is how the climate risks are considered for the duration of current policies, typically 1-year. There are many risks where the “new norm” is not representative of the averages we saw over the last 30-40 years. The second thing is to understand what climate risks will be in future, so that long-term planning can take place, both on the liability and investment side.
What differentiates Verisk SBS from its competitors?
Being part of Verisk is a major differentiator. Our competitors aren’t fortunate enough to be part of an organisation with such a broad array of capabilities and offerings. Verisk SBS, formerly Sequel, has always provided end-to-end policy lifecycle support across the whole distribution chain, from quote and bind to outward reinsurance and claims, and that hasn't changed. That offering is now enhanced and augmented by data and capabilities from across the Verisk network, from AI, machine learning (ML) and predictive modelling to ESG data and more. This makes us unique in the market. Our competitors on the software side tend not to have market-leading data at their fingertips and the big data providers don’t have our technology capabilities. In fact, some of our biggest tech competitors are among Verisk’s biggest data clients.
What is your vision for Verisk SBS over the next five years?
A big focus for me is to ensure we seamlessly leverage the capabilities across the Verisk group as ‘One Verisk’. If we can bring those services and datasets together, we are uniquely positioned to provide creative solutions to some of our clients’ most complex problems. If we don't, the value we deliver will be less than the potential sum of those parts.
Our mission remains to support the end-to-end lifecycle in an increasingly efficient, digital-first manner – delivering operational efficiencies and synergies for our clients and freeing up capital throughout the distribution chain, all the way to the end consumer.
What do you think lies ahead for the future of underwriting?
The future of underwriting will see far more automation of high volume, low value business and AI and ML delivering further efficiencies and moving into the broader facility space. As confidence increases, products that are in the open market today will increasingly be underwritten by algorithms and AI that removes human capital from the decision-making process. There always be a role for human involvement in the specialty market where there is subjectivity involved. However, the human brain will never be as consistent as an algorithm and there are many opportunities to automate and free up human underwriting expertise to focus where it can deliver most value.