Stephen Applebaum, Author at Insurance Thought Leadership



Stephen Applebaum

Stephen Applebaum

Stephen Applebaum, managing partner, Insurance Solutions Group, is a subject matter expert and thought leader providing consulting, advisory, research and strategic M&A services to participants across the entire North American property/casualty insurance ecosystem focused on insurance information technology, claims, innovation, disruption, supply chain, vendor and performance management. Applebaum is also a senior advisor to Waller Helms Advisors. WHA is the premier investment banking boutique focused on the crossroads of the insurance, healthcare and investment services sectors.

Applebaum is a frequent chairman, guest speaker and panelist at insurance industry conferences and contributor to major insurance industry publications and has a passion for coaching, mentoring, business process innovation and constructive transformation, applying disruptive technology and managing organizational change in the North American property/casualty insurance industry and trading partner communities. He may be reached at

Recent Articles by Stephen Applebaum

2022 Resolutions to Foster Innovation

It’s that time once again when predictions about the insurance industry’s outlook for 2022 come rolling in like waves. They are interesting to those of us in the industry and may provoke discussion and healthy debate or even serve as a call to action for others, even though most predictions turn out to be incorrect […]

Buckle Up for Telematics 2.0

For as much coverage and discussion as telematics has received over the past two decades, its impact on the auto insurance economy, including transportation, is going to be even greater and further reaching than many may have thought – it will be transformative in the fullest sense of the word. Broadly defined as the digital exchange […]

Insurtech Is Much More Than Just Hype

Two weeks ago, during an on-stage conversation in Las Vegas with Munich Re board member Lisa Pollina, Chubb CEO Evan Greenberg commented that insurtech’s promises of transformation are “just hype.” With that, Greenberg put a spotlight on a debate that has been percolating since the term “insurtech” was coined around 2010, when Germany-based Friendsurance created […]

Future of Work and Collaboration

Most people still think in terms of returning to work and life as we knew it once the pandemic is over. Meanwhile, return-to-office plans continue to be disrupted, impeding any real chance to test out hybrid models, which many have held out hope for as a longer-term solution. Return to work and life as we once […]

Getting to ‘Amazon-Like’ Auto Claims

Last week, we debuted our “Connected Insurance” webcast series with ““DISRUPTION: Technologies Transforming the Industry.”  I had the pleasure of serving as host and moderator, and by all accounts the session was well received.  Our underlying theme for the session was how digital technologies, including AI, are transforming the insurance economy. More broadly, our expert […]

Tomorrow’s Insurance Is Connected

Insurance is, at its core, five things: underwriting and pricing risk, selling and distribution, claims adjudication, servicing and, finally, investment management. Of course, there are hundreds of other skills and important areas, but these are the five central pillars of any insurance company. Technologies are emerging that enable omnipresent, real-time connectivity between the people and businesses […]

Insurtech 2021: Reset vs. Resume

2020 was a year like no other, so it should come as no surprise that we aren’t just going to be able to pick up where we left off as the pandemic eases. That is even truer with regard to the high-risk, high-reward world of investing in insurtechs. To use a football metaphor, 2020 was […]

6 Questions for Stephen Applebaum

As part of this month’s ITL FOCUS on commercial insurance, we spoke with Stephen Applebaum, managing partner, Insurance Solutions Group, about the future impacts of technology in commercial lines. What is the biggest change you expect to see in commercial lines in the next 12 months? COVID-19 related claims, notably first-party property business interruption and […]

Big Opportunities in Insurance Ecosystems

You may have noticed that the word “ecosystem” has crept into the insurance industry vernacular. Consequently, we risk turning an important concept into a cliché, one so overused outside of its original context that its impact and meaning become fuzzy and  eventually lost. To be clear, I am not suggesting that “ecosystem” does not apply […]

2021: The Great Reset in Insurance

More than enough has been written about the global pandemic of 2020, and now the end is within sight during 2021. But what is not nearly as clear is how different the post-pandemic world will be as a result – in the insurance industry and beyond. These differences will not only be numerous and significant, […]

ESG: Doing Well by Doing Good

As many of you know, my primary professional interest and focus has long been on the impact of information technology on insurance ecosystem transformation. But today I’m addressing a very different subject.  While the pandemic has had a number of enormous consequences, many of them horrendous, I would argue that it has also enabled several much […]

Property Claims: It’s Time for Innovation

The personal and commercial property claims process has traditionally lagged well  behind other segments of P&C insurance in the adoption of technology and innovation. That officially ended in 2020, aided by a global pandemic that changed virtually everything about life and business as we knew it. Understanding the factors behind the historical lack of innovation […]

Future of Insurance: Hyper-Personal

When we say “it’s personal,” we mean it in numerous but equally important ways.  The future of insurance is personal in the sense that its protection products and services of all types – life, health, accident, property/casualty and other lines of business not yet invented – will increasingly have to be customized and dynamic to […]

Digital Future of Insurance Emerges

I regularly communicate with a very large and diverse cross-section of the broad insurance ecosystem. and almost everyone expresses the same professional anxieties and frustrations. With regard to the business of insurance, very few have a clear view of the future, and for obvious and good reasons. However, I believe that several discernible patterns are […]

New Sense of Urgency on Going Digital

If necessity is the mother of invention, the insurance industry can proudly say that, in the face of COVID-19, necessity also became the mother of innovation.  Kudos to the Insurance Industry From repositioning hundreds of thousands of employees from offices to a fully effective remote work-from-home format in less than a month to quickly implementing […]

COVID-19: Technology, Investment, Innovation

This is a companion article to “Why Work-From-Home Threatens Innovation,” published on Aug. 6. As if our lives and the world in which we find ourselves aren’t confusing enough, for those of us working in the insurance industry ecosystem there are also less obvious threats that we should understand clearly. There is a general perception […]

Why Work-From-Home Threatens Innovation

The world is entering month eight of the pandemic and the complete disruption of the personal and business lives of virtually every one of us. While the timing and response to COVID-19 may have varied by country, region and city, nobody is unaffected. And the timeline for a return to anything resembling pre-COVID-19 life remains […]

Future Is Already Here in Claims

A perfect storm of macro factors has supercharged several trends in the insurance industry, producing almost touchless processes for claims and enabling cycle times of seconds, minutes and hours instead of days and weeks. Advancements in areas such as machine learning, robotics and connected IoT devices will continue to bring a dramatic shift in the […]

The Pandemic and a New Ecosystem

The plague that is coronavirus continues to threaten our way of life and our very existence.   And while we wait for our best scientists and Big Pharma to develop and deliver the vaccine we so desperately need to begin the return to some semblance of our prior lives, it is notable that finance and insurance […]

How to Accelerate Innovation: Pairing

Throughout the first quarter of 2020, the insurtech landscape has remained vibrant. There are record-setting venture capital investments, weekly announcements of new insurance/insurtech deals and lots of excitement. Over the last few years, the volume of insurtech developments and offerings in claims has grown exponentially, and many are being implemented to help reduce adjustment cost […]

How to Lead and Collaborate in Claims

Much has been written over the years about what sets great claims organizations apart from all others, but none of these analyses really apply anymore. The new world in which insurance and claims now operate features totally different customer profiles, plus emerging, tech-enabled solutions that can solve challenges in the claims process that have existed […]

Claims: Beyond the ‘Moment of Truth’

I have proudly worked in the North American insurance claims and information technology industry for over 30 years and have witnessed significant, albeit gradual, improvements in process and service. More recently, almost overnight, the switch of information gathering and distribution from analog to digital has transformed claims. Mobile consumer technologies have been adopted rapidly, disrupting […]

Change: ‘Gradually, Then Suddenly’

The phrase “gradually, then suddenly” comes from Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises,” when Mike Campbell is asked how he went bankrupt. “Two ways,” he answers. “Gradually, then suddenly.” These simple but profound words also apply to changes in the insurance claims IT industry over the last few decades, and to how today’s […]

Could an Insurer Be the Next Sears?

The thought of a major insurance company, and its brand, disappearing from the market seems impossible to comprehend and more like the stuff of an attention-grabbing headline. But that’s probably what everyone once thought about Atari, Commodore, Kodak, Nokia, Polaroid, Blockbuster, The Sharper Image, Enron, Blackberry, DeLorean, Radio Shack, Motorola, Toys ‘R’ Us, Tower Records, […]

In Race to AI, Who Guards Our Privacy?

Way back in 1975, geochemist Dr. Wallace Broecker of Columbia University published his article “Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?” Today, almost 45 years later, the debate has intensified but still rages, even as some believe the clock is running out. The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns […]

Survival of the Fittest in the Digital Age

As technology causes premium to contract, the most visionary insurers will change their focus from insuring risks and processing claims to obviating risk and instantly mitigating losses. Reflecting on my experience working with insurers and the IT and service providers who support them, I recall that about 15 years ago insurance business leaders suddenly needed […]

Connected Insurance Comes of Age in 2019

In a more virtual world, socially efficient ecosystems will generate more customer loyalty than do bricks and mortar, big advertising budgets or legacy insurance brands. The relentless conversion of analog to digital communications and information over the past 15 years, bolstered by the voracious appetites of consumers and an impressive array of AI technologies, has […]

Future of P&C Tech Comes Into Focus

In a 2017 report titled “Drones: Reporting for Work,” Goldman Sachs estimated the addressable market opportunity for drones globally between 2016 and 2020 to be $100 billion, of which the insurance claims drone market was estimated to be $1.4 billion. And the report did not address the wider opportunities in personal and commercial property insurance: […]

Connected Car Data: Moving Past the Hype

It is still early in the evolution of collecting and using mobile data from drivers and their vehicles, but many large industries with huge stakes in the outcome are participating and paying close attention. The Current Conundrum: Many Contestants, Few Prizes Formed in 1995 as a collaboration between GM, Electronic Data Systems and Hughes Electronics, […]

Technology Addiction: A Fatal Distraction

You are more likely to be reading this on a mobile device than on a laptop or desktop, and almost certainly not on a printed page: and therein lies the source of the problem. A Pew survey from June 2017 revealed that 85% of U.S. adults now get their news on a mobile device at […]

It’s Rush Hour in Telematics Market

Anyone who even casually follows insurance industry business developments is no doubt aware of the recent spike in announcements by TSPs (Telematics Service Providers), auto makers, information providers, insurance carriers and the related articles from industry thought leaders about many new products, programs and partnerships all focused in one way or another on the connected […]

IoT: Collaboration Is Now Mandatory

The definition of collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce or create something. That seems far too simplistic a way to describe the many types of collaboration already at work in the insurance industry and moreover does not begin to convey the looming and enormous demand for working together that will be […]

Car Makers, Insurers: Becoming Partners?

When “Car and Driver” magazine debuted more than 60 years ago (originally titled Sports Cars Illustrated), nobody could have envisioned the approaching changes that would transform life as we knew it – including all things automotive and consumer. Today, the expression “car and driver” suggests a completely different meaning as automobiles are becoming “driven” by […]

Insurtech: Can It Help Claims Experience?

Much has been written of late about how technology — referred to as “insurtech” — is transforming insurance. While some of these solutions are actually in use, many more are still conceptual and speculative, so adoption is anticipated. But make no mistake: The majority of these technologies will be adopted in time, and they will ultimately […]

‘Digital’ Needs a Personal Touch

The insurance claims process is rapidly being transformed from analog to digital as industry economics and customer expectations demand it and as technology enables it. Not only does digitization provide impressive cost savings and satisfy the expectations of a growing number of “always connected” consumers, but it delivers a host of other benefits. Insurtech providers of […]

A New Paradigm for Auto Claims

In 2016, there were about 190 million registered passenger vehicles on the road in the U.S. More than 15 million auto accidents occurred, involving 18.5 million vehicles. Stated another way, about one out of every 10 cars on the road was involved in an accident. Most were minor, but others involved serious injury or even […]

How to Bulletproof Regulatory Risk

Compliance has become a top priority for insurers as technology emerges to make the process easier and more cost-effective. Perhaps even more importantly, these solutions have demonstrated the ability to improve operational results while also boosting productivity and staff and policyholder satisfaction. Brief History of Insurance and Regulation For thousands of years, insurance was basically […]

Analytics and Survival in the Data Age

Do I really mean survival? I do. There’s not a bit of exaggeration there. I firmly believe—based on extensive qualitative and quantitative research and the many interviews and discussions I’ve conducted with insurance industry leaders—that analytics represent the industry’s best path to success and survival in a rapidly transforming world. Certainly, virtually every insurance carrier […]

The Growing Disruption in Auto Ecosystem

DISRUPTION IN THE AUTOMOTIVE ECOSYSTEM: What to Expect, and How to Survive and Win   For the purposes of this paper, and to explain the codependencies and inter-industry impacts, we’ve chosen to define the auto ecosystem as including all business segments affected by the automobile, including: auto manufacturing, auto buyers and drivers; collision repairers; aftermarket suppliers, […]

What if Auto Claims Just Keep Dropping?

This week’s announcement by the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) that vehicle theft is down by more than 50% compared with 1991, despite an increase in population and registrations of more than 60 million cars, caused me to consider the much bigger implications of shrinking frequency in the entire category of auto claims and what […]

M&A Surges in P&C Claims, Technology

One of the most active sectors of mergers and acquisitions activity (M&A) today is the insurance claims and technology sector. An unprecedented number of powerful forces are converging to drive M&A activity in the North American Property & Casualty (P&C) insurance claims and technology “ecosystem” to historically high levels, including: • Claims supply chain rationalization […]

Six Key Insurance Business Impacts From Analytics

Recently, I had the privilege of serving as chairman of the inaugural Insurance for Analytics USA conference in Chicago, which was very well organized by Data Driven Business, part of FC Business Intelligence. I am convinced that analytics is not only one of the most valuable and promising technology disciplines to ever find its way […]

Analytics at the Next Level: Transformation Is in Sight

Although insurance companies are embracing analytics in many forms to a much higher degree than other businesses, adoption by the insurance industry is still only in its adolescent stage. Deployment is broad but inconsistent. The use of analytics may be about to mature considerably, though, based on a recent series of mergers and acquisitions. Currently, […]

North American Property & Casualty Vendors: Partners In Claims Excellence

This article was excerpted exclusively for Insurance Thought Leadership from a 43-page research report by the author and published by Aite Group on December 12, 2012 as further described here. This new report from Aite Group reviews the many different vendors, products, and services that help Property & Casualty insurance carriers achieve claims excellence. Based […]

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