Tag Archives: m&a

Next-Gen Analytics Drive Efficiency

Across the insurance industry, analytics has become the most heralded technology investment for insurance companies, wholesalers, brokers, agents and other intermediaries. Yet, with soft market conditions, thinning margins, intensifying competition, escalating M&A activity and rapidly evolving technology, making the right choices and investments is imperative.

Not surprisingly, many insurers and intermediaries have opted to maintain systems that have long become obsolete before jumping into what they’re led to believe may be the next generation of features.

The issue is where to focus. Selecting the right platform essentially comes down to assessing an organization’s current and future information needs and matching them to today’s technology offerings.

To put this in a wider context, let’s take a closer look at some of the dynamics currently facing the commercial insurance marketplace.

Broker and Agent Challenges

Competition

Brokers are moving aggressively to build their business across all market segments, industries and geographies.

Consolidation

The pace of M&A is accelerating among mid-sized and smaller broker/agents. This affects all players – whether you are an acquirer, likely to be acquired or face direct competitors with added capabilities or resources through M&A transactions.

Focus on Maintaining or Improving Margins

All players are driving not only for market share but for growth that will deliver higher margins. Accordingly, competition among brokers and agents is intensifying for the most profitable business segments.

Drive for Efficiency

With the sustained soft commercial insurance market, brokers and agents face an imperative for greater efficiency and improvement in workflow structure.

Rising Client Expectations

Despite generally lower rates for insurance coverage, clients continue to have higher service expectations of all their providers.

Reconciling Old and New Technology

Brokers and agents must balance the need to incorporate technology against the cost of development, implementation and integration of any new system with legacy systems.

Insurer Challenges

Strengthening Distribution Network

Many insurers are working to develop and expand business with national, regional and local brokers and agents.

Navigating Competition

Insurers face intensifying competition for all types of business, especially in profitable coverage lines and with high-margin client segments.

Emerging Risks and Opportunities

Evolving risks provide opportunities for innovation both in terms of creating products and improving existing coverage lines.

Maintaining Individual Producer Relationships

Insurers want ways to address a lack of visibility of accounts and account owners at national, regional and local brokers; to remain effective, they must keep up with contact changes at brokers, shifting responsibilities of client managers.

Growth vs. Retention

With each renewal, insurers must balance need for client retention with a drive for new business.

Better Data and Feedback

To meet aggressive growth goals, insurers need improved market intelligence and feedback on product offerings and potential solutions for improving both retention and capturing new business. They also can gain from formal feedback mechanisms to track reasons for lost business. 

Building solutions: Meeting the industrywide need for tech-based analytics

In recent years, global brokers have developed and implemented proprietary systems that enable them to capture details of individual placement transactions on a global basis and gain insights on pricing trends, terms and conditions, market penetration, client and carrier characteristics and success rates.

This information also yields substantial benchmarking data for senior management, individual brokers and marketing executives. For insurers, these analytical capabilities have proved invaluable in developing and refining insurance products and services, targeting industry segments more effectively and operating more profitably.

Within the U.S., however, the largest global brokers still account for only about 20% of the overall commercial insurance marketplace. As insurers strive to expand their business with national, regional and local brokers and agents, they need similar robust analytical capabilities to achieve efficiencies.

Today, most insurers have access to a variety of technology-based solutions for tracking and analyzing various types of claims. However, beyond what’s currently available from the largest brokerages for their own business, insurers generally lack similar solutions for identifying and managing their incoming business and continuing clients across the spectrum of their broker and agency relationships.

The next generation of analytical platforms will enable insurers to track, manage, understand and evaluate business obtained from each of their brokerage and agency relationships. Insurers will be able to pinpoint producers at each broker directly responsible for placing business by geography, client size, industry sector and other delineators.

With a clear line of sight across their entire portfolio, insurers will have enhanced abilities to develop and roll out new products and policy features, especially those targeted to specific industry sectors or client types. They will be able to get rapid feedback on why they lost business or failed to win new clients.

Meanwhile, as mentioned, brokers and agents face similar challenges with respect to their accounts and underwriter relationships. Given the number and spread of clients in their books, brokers want solutions that enhance their efficiency and ability to service and grow their business.

New platforms also will offer brokers and agents the ability to track and monitor their business, as well as to strengthen and expand their relationships with insurers. Individual producers will be able to view their own accounts and benchmark them against those of the same size, geography, industry and other factors.

This, in turn, will help brokers and agents identify and address gaps in client programs, expand the insurers providing quotes for individual clients and specific coverage lines, negotiate pricing terms and conditions more effectively and elevate overall service delivery and performance.

The same platforms will offer views for broker/agency senior leadership that will detail account profitability; help assess performance by producer, office or region; and make informed decisions about resource allocation, sales, marketing and planning. After a merger or acquisition, the systems will help accelerate business integration, including the development of consistent service delivery across the combined book.

Major advancements in technology, including dramatic decreases in data storage costs afforded by the cloud, will make new analytics platforms more affordable and accessible to insurance companies, brokers and agencies of all sizes. Ultimately, the widespread availability, real-time information, feedback and robust capabilities of the next generation of analytics platforms will propel the insurance distribution system into the 21st century.

Stay tuned.

Cyber’s Surprising Importance for M&A

Although many people think of cyber insurance when confronted with a data breach, cyber insurance may not be quite so top of mind in the context of corporate mergers and acquisitions. Cyber insurance should be, because policies typically contain provisions that are directly affected by such transactions. Enterprises should take a close look at their cyber insurance policy provisions early on in the deal-making process so that coverage for the affected enterprises can be maximized.

The focus on cyber should be especially acute now, both because M&A activity continues to rise and because the importance of cyber coverage is surging on the heels of recent, headline-making data breaches.

Cyber insurance policies, like most other policies, typically provide coverage to the named insured identified in the policy, as well as to any subsidiary of the named insured that was created by the date the policy took effect. Carriers generally ask enterprises to identify all such subsidiaries during the application process.

Although disclosed subsidiaries may generally be considered “insureds” at the time cyber policies are issued, cyber policies may contain provisions that specify the steps the insured must take to obtain coverage for subsidiaries acquired or created, or for entities involved in mergers or consolidations.

Insureds that are considering mergers or acquisitions should ensure compliance by carefully reviewing their cyber insurance policies early in the transaction process. Relevant provisions might be found in various places in cyber policies, including within the policy’s conditions, definitions and exclusions.

Mergers and newly acquired or created subsidiaries

The steps an insured must take to secure coverage for a newly acquired subsidiary vary from policy to policy and may depend on the financials of the subsidiary. For example, under one cyber policy, if the acquired entity has revenue greater than 10% of the named insured’s total annual revenue, the named insured must: provide written notice before the acquisition, obtain the insurer’s written consent and agree to pay any additional premium required by the insurer.

Another insurer requires an Insured that merges with, acquires or creates an entity with assets exceeding 10% of the total assets of the insured to provide full details of the transaction as soon as practicable The insurer is entitled to impose additional terms, conditions and premiums, at its sole discretion.

Under the terms of a different policy, if the named insured acquires or creates another organization in which the named insured has an ownership interest of greater than 50%, the organization is covered for insured events that take place after the date of acquisition or creation, but only if the named insured provided notice to the insurer no later than 60 days after the effective date of the acquisition of creation, along with any information the insurer should require. The insured may be exempted from that process if, among other things, the new subsidiary’s gross revenues are 10% or less than those of the named insured.

Relevant terms are implicated under another cyber policy if the insured acquires or creates an entity that becomes a subsidiary, acquires an entity by merger or purchases assets or assumes liabilities of an entity without acquiring the entity. If the total assets of the acquired or created entity, or the combined total amount of the purchased assets or assumed liabilities, are less than 30% of the consolidated assets of the insured, the new entity may be entitled to certain coverages under the policy if the named insured provides written notice as soon as practicable, but in no event later than 60 days after the effective date of the transaction. The named insured will have to provide any requested information and may be subject to an increased premium.

A different insurer requires the named insured to provide notice of a newly formed or acquired subsidiary within 60 days of the transaction if the named insured has more than 50% of the legal or beneficial interest of the entity. If, however, the total assets or total revenues of the new entity exceed 15% of the total assets or revenues of the named insured, the named insured must provide the “full particulars” of the new entity, and the insurer must agree in writing to provide coverage. The insurer may charge an increased premium and amend policy terms.

Divested entities and changes in ownership

Provisions of cyber policies also may be affected by changes affecting entities that initially are covered under the policy. For example, policies may provide that if the named insured’s legal or beneficial interest in a subsidiary becomes less than 50%, the entity will no longer qualify as a subsidiary under the policy and will lose coverage.

Cyber policies also may contain provisions that will be triggered in the event of a takeover of the named insured.

Conclusion

Corporate transactions may have important effects on the coverage provided under a cyber insurance policy. Because there are no standard-form cyber policies, the provisions that might be implicated by any such transaction, including important notice requirements, will vary from policy to policy.  Entities should carefully review their coverage at the very outset of the deal-making process to ensure that they full understand their rights and obligations and comply with all policy provisions so that coverage can be maximized.

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 into the insurance industry ecosystem, but that its very adoption clearly identifies those carriers – and their information technology partners – that will be the most innovative.

Analytics has exceptionally broad enterprise potential, with the ability to permanently change the way carriers think and conduct their business. The future of analytics is even more promising than most can imagine.

The conference — where the excitement was palpable — showed the sheer diversity of carrier types and sizes as well as the many different operational areas in which analytics is being used to drive insight, business outcomes and innovation and create real competitive differentiation. From large carriers such as Chubb, Sun Life, Nationwide, American Family, CNA and CSAA, to smaller insurers including Fireman's Fund, Pacific Specialty, Great American, Westfield, National General and Houston Casualty, presentations demonstrated how broadly analytics should be applied through every function and every level of the organization. Presentations from information technology provider types including Dun & Bradstreet, L&T InfoTech, Fractal Analytics, Megaputer, EagleEye Analytics, Clarity Solutions Group, Dataguise, Quadrant, Actionable Analytics, Earley & Associates and DataDNA laid out the future potential.

Recent research shows that one major application of analytics — predictive modeling — is getting attention in pricing and rating, where more than 80% of carriers use it regularly. However, only about 50% use it today in underwriting, and fewer than 30% do so in reserving, claims and marketing.

Based on information shared during the conference, there are six major thrusts to the analytics trend:

• Analytics liberates and democratizes data, which in turn ignites innovation and change within carriers.

• Analytics is uniting insurance organizations, breaking down information silos and creating collaboration between operating units, even as enterprise data governance policies and practices emerge.

• Investment and M&A activity in information technology companies in data and analytics is surging and will create even greater disruption and innovation as more entrepreneurial thinkers continue blending art with science.

• New “as-a-service” pay-per-use models for delivery and pricing are emerging for software (SaaS) and data (DaaS), which will be appealing and cost-effective, especially for mid-tier and smaller carriers.

• Analytics is driving innovation in products, business processes, markets, competition and business models.

• Carriers will have to innovate or surrender market share and should watch for competition from new players, such as Google and Amazon, which understand data, the cloud, innovation and consumer engagement.

This article first appeared on Insurance & Technology

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, while a majority of large carriers use predictive modeling in one of more lines of business, and mostly in personal lines auto, a smaller percentage use it in their commercial auto and property units. Insurers recognize predictive analytics as a critical tool for improving top-line growth and profitability while managing risk and improving operational efficiency. Insurers believe predictive analytics can create competitive advantage and increase market share.

Fueling even greater excitement – and soon to be driving transformational innovation – is the recent surge of M&A activity by both new and nontraditional players, which have combined risk management and sophisticated analytics expertise with robust and diverse industry database services. The list of recent deals includes:

  • CoreLogic’s 2014 purchase of catastrophe modeling firm Eqecat, following its 2013 acquisition of property data provider Marshall & Swift/Boeckh; a significant minority interest in Symbility, provider of cloud-based and smartphone/tablet-enabled property claims technology for the property and casualty insurance industry; and the credit and flood services units of DataQuick.
  • Statutory and public data provider SNL Insurance’s 2014 purchase of business intelligence and analytics firm iPartners, which serves P&C and life companies.
  • Verisk Analytics’ 2014 acquisition of EagleView Technology, a digital aerial property imaging and measurement solution.
  • LexisNexis Risk Solutions’ 2013 acquisition of Mapflow, a geographic risk assessment technology company with solutions that complement the data, advanced analytics, supercomputing platform and linking capabilities offered by LexisNexis.

Other 2013/2014 transactions that have broad implications for the insurance analytics and information technology ecosystem include:

  • Guidewire Software, a provider of core management system software and related products for property and casualty insurers, acquired Millbrook, a provider of data management and business intelligence and analytic solutions for P&C insurers.
  • IHS, a global leader in critical information and analytics, acquired automotive information database provider R.L. Polk, which owns the vehicle history report provider Carfax. 
  • FICO, a leading provider of analytics and decision management technology, acquired Infoglide Software, a provider of entity resolution and social network analysis solutions used primarily to improve fraud detection, security and compliance.
  • CCC Information Services, a database, software, analytics and solutions provider to the auto insurance claims and collision repair markets, acquired Auto Injury Solutions, a provider of auto injury medical review solutions. This transaction follows CCC’s acquisition of Injury Sciences, which provides insurance carriers with scientifically based analytic tools to help identify fraudulent and exaggerated injury claims associated with automobile accidents.
  • Mitchell International, a provider of technology, connectivity and information solutions to the P&C claims and collision repair industries, plans to acquire Fairpay Solutions, which provides workers’ compensation, liability and auto-cost-containment and payment-integrity services. Fairpay will expand Mitchell’s solution suite of bill review and out-of-network negotiation services and complements its acquisition of National Health Quest in 2012.

Based on these acquisitions and the other trends driving the use of analytics, it will be increasingly possible to:

  • Integrate cloud services, M2M, data mining and analytics to create the ultimate insurance enterprise platform.
  • Identify profitable customers, measure satisfaction and loyalty and drive cross/up-sell programs.
  • Capitalize on emerging technologies to improve pool optimization, create dynamic pricing models and reduce loss and claims payout.
  • Encourage “management by analytics” to overcome departmental or product-specific views of customers, update legacy systems and reduce operating spending over the enterprise.
  • Explore external data sources to better understand customer risk, pricing, attrition and opportunities for exploring emerging markets.                       

As the industry is beginning to understand, the breadth of proven analytics applications and the seemingly unlimited potential to identify even more, coupled with related M&A market activity that will drive transformational innovation, indicates that the growing interest in analytics will be well-rewarded. Those that are paying the most attention will become market leaders.

Stephen will be Chairing Analytics for Insurance USA, Chicago, March 19-20, 2014.