Karen Pauli, Author at Insurance Thought Leadership




Karen Pauli

Karen Pauli

Karen Pauli, principal at SMA, has comprehensive knowledge about how technology can drive improved results, innovation and transformation. She has worked with insurers and technology providers to reimagine processes and procedures to change business outcomes and support evolving business models.

Her areas of focus include underwriting, claims, business intelligence and analytics, data sources, agency distribution and customer management. Pauli’s real-world experience with digital transformation projects has given her insight into the changing customer and distributor experience in the digital age. In her more than 25 years at insurance companies, and in the technology research and advisory space, she has developed her talent for aligning business goals and perspectives with technology road maps to create competitive advantage.

Before joining SMA, Pauli was a research director in the insurance practice at CEB TowerGroup, where she used her extensive insurance company experience to translate technology into business value. Prior to that, she worked at several insurance companies, including Crum & Forster, Commercial Union/CGU/OneBeacon and Safeco. She was integral in building C & F’s high-valued property company. As an assistant vice president at Commercial Union/CGU/OneBeacon, she sponsored technology initiatives involving analytics, straight-through processing and automated underwriting. She also gained vital experience in claims operations, including claims settlement and fraud management and underwriting while working at insurance companies.

Pauli is regularly quoted in leading insurance periodicals. She is a frequent speaker at conferences such as IASA, ACORD and ACE as well as customer events. She graduated from Bradley University with a B.S. in history.

Recent Articles by Karen Pauli

4 Initiatives That Unlock IoT’s Value

The insurance industry excels at tactics. If one is an underwriter, a claims person or contact center manager, and a problem is detected, it’s all hands on deck to solve that problem. What tactics could wrestle that problem to the ground? That’s generally the direction the industry is most comfortable with because we are a […]

AI Investment in Commercial Lines

Artificial intelligence (AI) has been in almost every technology-based headline over the past 24 months. If an incumbent technology provider or a newly emerging insurtech organization wants to grab attention – well, just insert AI in the first few lines of the description. Better yet, insert AI in the product or organization name. In fact, […]

Claims 2021 Planning: Making Good Bets

In most insurance companies, it is time to take out the 2020 budget and see where line items need to move for next year. Did the claims organization meet objectives? If not, what adjustments need to be made? What technology partners were aligned with the organization at the beginning of the year? And how do […]

Growing Case for Parametric Coverage

Sadly, the insurance-focused news outlets are starting to overflow with references to who is suing whom over certain types of coverage related to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a growing regulatory and legislative outcry for the insurance industry to pay out in instances where there is no specified coverage or where coverage is actually excluded. […]

Will COVID-19 Give Telematics New Life?

Over the past several weeks, there have been numerous aerial photos of some of the nation’s largest highway systems – devoid of vehicles. The sight of tens of miles of ramps, junctions and straightaways with no visible cars is startling, almost a made-for-Hollywood view. But COVID-19 has taken a huge percentage of people out of […]

Stop Looking in the Rearview Mirror

Despite the headline, this blog is not about auto insurance or distracted driving. It’s about lessons learned in the COVID-19 pandemic. One is very likely to be that a fundamental change is needed in how we, as an industry, view product and services development. Insurance product creation is based on historical data – the rearview […]

Skills Needed for Modernization?

One of the happiest, most inspiring headlines I’ve seen in recent months read – “Nationwide announces five-year, $160M Future of Work investment.” Finally, an insurer was putting a stake in the ground, announcing a major commitment to address a looming and significant reality – the nature of work is changing. The article addressed the “how” […]

Is Transformation Losing Steam?

Technology adoption in personal lines has been going on for a long time. Because of the early advent of personal auto data standards, technology adoption has been fairly easy (always a relative term). Many insurers have staked their industry competitive advantage on data and analytics – Progressive comes to mind. Others have been early adopters […]

Commercial Lines Embracing Change

During the past decade, SMA has conducted a survey to learn how insurers are viewing emerging technology. This year’s technology survey reflects industry changes, because, in the grand scheme of things, some of the featured technologies are no longer emerging. And because the strategic value of the technologies to insurers is maturing, there is a […]

Radical Prediction on Future Tech Leaders

In five years, the premier insurance technology providers will be Aon, Marsh, Munich Re, Swiss Re and Allianz. This is a fairly radical statement to make, but it is not made without evidence and support. The following five announcements lead me to this conclusion: Aon announced it has agreed to acquire insurtech startup CoverWallet in […]

Breakthroughs Finally Appearing in Claims

According to the Grammarist.com, the phrase “caught between a rock and a hard place” came about in the early 1900s in Bisbee, AZ, where miners who were seeking better working conditions pushed the mine owners for improvements. The owners were totally against making any changes – leaving the miners with a very hard decision. Either […]

Homeowners Quoting: Is Process Improving?

One of the big areas of focus across the insurance industry, in general, has been to streamline the application/quoting process. Whether it’s agents who are submitting applications for their customers or individuals and business owners filling out their own applications, there is a recognition that faster and simpler is the way to increase customer acquisition. […]

The Reinsurers Are Coming!

In most instances, when A.M. Best issues its Top 200 U.S Property/Casualty Writers results, there is some jockeying for position – up or down a position or two. However, the 2018 results issued in July 2019 revealed something that literally flew off the page. One insurer moved up 28 positions, another 29 and a third […]

Data Prefill: Now You See It, Now You Don’t

At children’s birthday parties, a guest magician may utter the well-worn phrase, “now you see it, now you don’t” – and a bouquet of flowers disappears. That trick, a heartwarming memory for many, also relates to the vast quantity of questions on an application for commercial lines insurance. It’s daunting for a business owner to […]

Emerging Tech in Commercial Lines

Historically, technology adoption within commercial lines organizations has been met with a wall of push-back, largely related to commercial lines being wrapped in a cloak of “art versus science” thinking. Because of risk and product complexity, commercial lines organizations believed that only highly trained and seasoned humans could be involved with processes and decisions. Additionally, […]

3 Techs to Personalize Claims Processing

Claims is a people business – virtually every claims executive I have ever met believes this. If you have ever been in a vehicle accident, experienced damage to your home or business, or been injured in a work-related incident, one of the first things that comes to mind is: I need to talk to someone […]

What Is Really Disrupting Insurance?

In a recent SMA blog, Karen Furtado, SMA partner, posed this question: “Have you ever found yourself hearing a word so frequently that it begins to lose its meaning?” The word she was referring to was “transformation,” but I think that everyone who reads that question immediately has a specific word of their own that pops […]

Is P&C Distribution Actually Digitizing?

Today, the discussions around insurance distribution channels are in perpetual motion – everyone has an opinion as to where it’s going. But where is it today? What has changed? What hasn’t? And where are the investment dollars going? These are great questions, and most insurance professionals are interested in the answers. With that in mind, […]

To Be or Not to Be Insurtech

It is probably a bit presumptuous to liken the insurtech startup movement to Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy. It is, after all, a well-known and historical Shakespearean reference. However, the similarity is in the questions asked, and such a question has probably been asked prior to many defining moments. And just […]

Why L&A Insurers Are Now the Smartest

In many quarters, the above title could be fighting words! Because I can’t even watch an Olympic boxing match, much less an all-out fight, let me explain. For as long as I have been in the insurance industry, life and annuity insurers have been thought of as being significantly behind P&C insurers in terms of […]

Agents, Brokers Are Dead? Not So Fast!

For the past several years, a significant number of individuals and new-breed companies have emphatically stated that independent agents and brokers are dead. They don’t serve the needs of today’s consumers. They are behind the times from a technology standpoint. They are difficult to deal with. And a good number of insurtech startups are staking […]

Life Is a Bowl of… Customer Analytics

In 1931, Ethel Merman sang a song titled “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries.” The phrase “life is a bowl of cherries” carried on – meaning that life is carefree. The life and annuity industry certainly can’t adopt this phrase because generating profit and growth has been significantly challenging since the 2007-2008 financial services […]

Why to Refocus on Data and Analytics

Data and analytics is a phrase that is probably in 75% of articles and blogs written today on the industry. In fact, data and analytics is used so frequently that it almost appears to be one word – dataandanalytics. SMA research shows that 92% of insurers have data and analytics initiatives under way in 2017. […]

Telematics: A Claims Adjuster’s New BFF

Nobody can have too many BFFs (that’s best friends forever in today’s texting-driven vernacular).  That statement goes double for claims adjusters who are frequently seen as “bad guys” because of all the difficult-to-understand complexities of the adjusting process. The reality is that claims adjusters do not get enough recognition for the many times they go […]

It’s Time to Declare an End to Fraudsters

Fraud has long been a significant problem for the insurance industry – actually since the very beginning of insurance at Lloyd’s coffee house. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud indicates that 5% to 10% of claims costs are related to fraud, with more than 30% of insurers reporting as much as 20% of claims costs being […]

Don’t Be Distracted by Driverless Cars

Because of the arrival of autonomous vehicles, a good number of prognosticators are loudly heralding the end of auto insurance and the insurers that rely on this income stream. While there is no doubt that the auto insurance will change over time because of autonomous vehicles, the doomsday folks paint a picture of an almost certain […]

MGAs 4.0: The Role Evolves Yet Again

The journey, over time, of the insurance managing general agent (MGA) is an interesting one. In their original manifestation in the late 1800s/early 1900s, MGAs were a way for East Coast insurers to get their products west, without having to commit their own resources – clearly a valuable business model. As insurers either established their […]

How Acquisitions Are Reshaping Landscape

With the announcement that Insurity has acquired Valen Analytics, the core and analytics landscape has changed again. We have been tracking M&A activity and outside investments in the core systems space for some time, and the past year has seen a marked trend toward the acquisition of data and analytics firms by core systems providers. […]

Got Transformation Anxiety?

I don’t like bridges – particularly, those high bridges with long expanses. Crossing a bridge makes my stomach do flip flops, I hear the blood rushing in my ears, and, from time to time, I see little dots dancing before my eyes. I suspect that many an insurance executive gets the same set of symptoms […]

How Insurtechs Will Affect Agents in 2017

For many people, the arrival of the New Year heralds the promise of achieving bigger and better things, reaching new heights and perhaps accomplishing things that weren’t done in the prior year. 2017 is going to mark a pivotal year for agents and brokers as insurtech distributors really hit the marketplace with new ways of […]

Insurtech Takes Aim at Personal Lines

If you have gone three days without seeing the term “insurtech,” well, you are probably on a remote Caribbean island with no means of connecting to the outside insurance world. Putting your head in the sand on some nice island might sound tempting, but there is an issue that any insurer with a vested interest […]

5 Scary Thoughts on BI, Data Warehouses

With Halloween just past, it seems appropriate to blog about something thematic. Usually, the word “scary” isn’t used to describe insurance writings, but there is a twist to one important question that can be as frightening as things that go bump in the night. Often, a technology adoption discussion starts out with a question about why an […]

A Tipping Point for Commercial Lines

It is no secret to commercial lines insurers that the market is hyper-competitive and has been so for years. There is very little to suggest that this is going to change. But there are other changes afoot, as evidenced by the new entrants, from the ranks of both traditional insurers and reinsurers as well as […]

Customer Experience: Not Arm Wrestling

When I was a kid growing up in Wisconsin, arm wrestling was a big deal. I’m not exactly certain why, but my guess is that it was because the winters in Wisconsin are really long and really cold. I think everyone ran out of things to do at the local tavern — so, arm wrestling […]

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