Platforms have repeatedly provided the groundwork for surges in technological process over the 35 years I've been writing about innovation. MS-DOS wasn't just an operating system. It provided a platform in the 1980s and 1990s that became the home for all sorts of what were originally discrete little programs (clocks, calculators, etc.) and then for far more powerful programs (word processors, spreadsheets, browsers and so on). Google didn't just provide a search engine. It provided a platform for commerce, for maps and for a host of services that we use to navigate the internet. Amazon has become a platform for all kinds of products and sellers and even for businesses wanting to host their IT operations in the cloud.
With all that history, I've been keeping an eye on the platforms that are developing for distributing insurance, and a long series of conversations at InsureTech Connect in Las Vegas at the beginning of the month showed me that there's been a lot of progress. To get a handle on just what's been happening over the past year or so, I sat down with Jonathan Hendrickson, vice president and head of insurtech development at Gallagher, for this month's interview.
He said agents and brokers who use digital distribution platforms are taking to them because they're more convenient. For instance, he said a SEMCI -- which stands for single-entry, multiple carrier interface -- lets brokers or clients put information into a system that can yield several quotes and options.
Hendrickson noted that, in commercial lines, clients want to talk with an agent or broker before completing a purchase. That's true even in small commercial, where he said the percentage of purchases that are fully digital is still in the single digits.
"There's some value to moving at a slower pace," he said. "Insurance is in the business of de-risking things for other industries. When you have a bedrock that you can build upon, that's very helpful and a great foundation."
What about generative AI (the question of the day and maybe week, month and year)?
He says Gallagher has been experimenting and found, for instance, that generative AI can do a very helpful first draft of a translation into another language.
"We're doing other things, as well," Hendrickson said, "including seeing how it can glean information from documents to better prepare other documents. A lot of work has been done determining how we help provide information faster for those who are going to be providing advice to clients."
Platforms tend to take shape slowly -- then suddenly grab hold. DOS, for instance, was in the market for nine years before the version introduced in 1990 really captured the market. We're not at MS-DOS 3.0 yet in insurance, but, if you dig into the interview, you'll see there's an awful lot going on.
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