What do the Eurostar and the London Market’s dependence on legacy technology have in common?

What do the Eurostar and the London Market’s dependence on legacy technology have in common?

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As I packed my bag for Paris in March to attend our European user conference, Guidewire Insurance Forum, I only thought to check the weather in Paris and assumed the snow warnings for the UK would be limited to Scotland and the north of England. How wrong was I?!

A dusting of snow had caused carnage at my local train station, with just one train to London over a 90 minute period. Despite leaving early, having my digital Eurostar tickets stored in my smart Eurostar app, and having pre-paid for my parking space, I feared that I might not be able to make it to Paris at all.

Ultimately, despite my digital ticketing and route planning, my fundamental need was for the trains to run on time. This struck me as similar to the challenge that insurers face when trying to improve their digital capability or user experience without tackling the improvement of core infrastructure.

A common topic of conversation with London Market insurers in recent months has been around improving their ‘pre-bind’ capabilities. This is a huge topic, and I couldn’t hope to cover this in just one blog. For now, I’ll focus on the underwriter experience. There are various insurtechs and established software providers offering solutions in this space in the London Market alone. 

Common use cases include:

  • Address / Company Resolution;

  • Data Augmentation and/or Extraction;

  • Submission Triage;

  • Workflow Orchestration; and

  • Underwriter Workbench/Desktop.

There are some excellent niche solutions catering to the above, but in my experience all these capabilities are maximized when they’re integrated into modern core Cloud technology. In the short-term, where multiple legacy policy administration system (PAS) solutions exist today, a workbench can act as a middleware layer aggregating data for a portfolio-wide view and pushing workflow activities to the relevant PAS. Otherwise, user experience and productivity will be dramatically impacted by having multiple log-in credentials for different applications. 

The difficulty with attempting to unleash the capability of these solutions into a legacy PAS is that you’re masking the problem, and almost certainly creating technical debt to be dealt with in the future. Put another way, a CIO I spoke with recently likened this to waiting at a lift door in a shiny new office, to find that when the lift door opens, it leads to a set of old rickety stairs. The fundamental service is still dependent on an inflexible, time-limited solution which, while proven and working today, will require on-going maintenance as well as preventing new ways of working.

This is why it is my firm belief that modern Cloud solutions, such as Guidewire PolicyCenter, can serve as an end to end underwriting platform, offering the London Market the best option with which to modernize today and innovate now and into the future. I am of course biased, which is why I was so delighted to see that Guidewire has been awarded five of six available awards by Celent in their policy system report for North America and EMEA. In Europe, PolicyCenter received the Breadth of Functionality and Customer Base and Support awards.

Table stakes for an end-to-end underwriting platform include:

  • the capability to integrate and orchestrate multiple applications, designed to solve specific use cases; 

  • a single environment, with user-specific views and functionality, based on roles and requirements;

  • an open API design architecture, allowing for flexible integration;

  • the ability to collaborate with colleagues around a subject object (submission, quote, policy, endorsement, transaction etc…) sharing comments, documents and actions; and

  • the flexibility to dial-up the degree of self-service with no-code / low-code so that credentialed business users aren’t reliant on IT for customisation or configuration.  

My colleague Paul Mallett, who leads the product development of our London Market offering, will be blogging again soon on our latest approach to Blueprint Two and how we’re positioning our product roadmap to allow customers to adapt their processes accordingly. Keep an eye out for that blog.

It seems strange for me to say this, but more software is often not the right approach to solving the ‘pre-bind’ challenge, a bit like my train travel analogy. Aging infrastructure matters. The right core technology, which is so much more than a system of record, allows you to pick and choose from microservice providers serving the London Market and weave them into your policy processes. And of course, Guidewire comes pre-integrated with dozens of solution partners, meaning you can save time and effort mapping and building the integration from these applications into PolicyCenter.

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