March ITL Focus: Underwriting

ITL FOCUS is a monthly initiative featuring topics related to innovation in risk management and insurance.



    The horrific combined ratios in homeowners, auto and some other lines have drawn even more attention than usual to underwriting. So this month's ITL Focus is especially timely.

    To suggest some ways to improve profitability, I turned first to Jess Keeney, chief product and technology officer at Duck Creek Technologies. In our interview – which I encourage you to read in full – she talks about the importance of personalizing underwriting and says AI makes that possible in new ways. In particular, AI can pull together more data than the underwriter previously had access to, which allows for a deeper understanding of the client and of the risks. AI also can automate routine tasks, giving underwriters more time to dig deeper into an application. 

    I also pulled together the six articles I've linked to below – just a few of the really meaty articles we've published recently on underwriting – and think they all help illuminate a better path. 

    Bill Deemer and Bobby Touran of Rainbow lay out the possibilities for continuous underwriting, in a two-part series. At the moment, we do a deep dive the first time we see an application and update the file at renewal time, but they explain how technology allows for continuous updates. Why wait until renewal to realize that a restaurant client, say, has added alcohol sales? 

    Michael Reilly of Accenture challenges underwriters to truly go paperless. Yes, he says, we've eliminated all the file cabinets full of paper, but we've just switched to what he calls "digital paper" – PDFs. Excel spreadsheets, etc., which still make it too hard for underwriters to find all the information they need. 

    Jacob Grob of Tensorflight says insurers are reaching outside their walls and increasingly drawing on third-party data that can make underwriting far more precise. Adam Cherubini of Send explores how to attract the next wave of talent to underwriting – a key concern. Neeraj Kaushik of Infosys McCamish Systems lays out the particular challenges in the cyber world, which is constantly changing but where insurers seem to be doing a lot of things right. Neil Chapman and Serhat Guven of Willis Towers Watson describe the opportunities – and perils – of automated pricing.

    I hope you find the interview and those articles as smart and helpful as I do.


    "Continuous evolution defines underwriting," asserts Jess Keeney, Duck Creek's Chief Product & Technology Officer. "Innovation demands perpetual vigilance; over my 15-year tenure in B2B product delivery, I've never uttered the phrase, 'Mission accomplished.'"

    Read the Full Interview

    "We are here all day every day because we want to serve people in businesses, and underwriting is obviously core to that. The best thing we can do with a new technology like Gen AI is to embrace it and figure out how to leverage it in the best way possible. Usually, new technology is met with fear. But the faster we can understand the best use cases for generative AI and implications for underwriting, the better. "

    — Jess Keeney
    Read the Full Interview



    The Promise of Continuous Underwriting

    Typically, a risk is underwritten, bound... and forgotten. But new streams of data and automation allow for continuous underwriting.

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    'Intelligent Ingestion': Time to Truly Go Digital

    The industry kids itself about having gone paperless. In fact, we still use the same processes we used in the 17th century. It's time for a change.

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    How External Data Is Revolutionizing Underwriting

    Combining external data streams with internal analytics creates a comprehensive view of properties that legacy methods can't match.

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    'How to Captivate the Next Wave of Underwriters

    The answer is a strategy that blends technology, talent development and alignment with the values of the younger generation.

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    Risks, Trends, Challenges for Cyber Insurance

    Cyber underwriters face a myriad of risks, emerging trends and formidable challenges in crafting robust policies.

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    The Keys to Automating Pricing

    For all the undoubted benefits of automating insurance pricing, experience shows that success isn't just about throwing technology at a problem. 

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    Insurance Thought Leadership

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    Insurance Thought Leadership

    Insurance Thought Leadership (ITL) delivers engaging, informative articles from our global network of thought leaders and decision makers. Their insights are transforming the insurance and risk management marketplace through knowledge sharing, big ideas on a wide variety of topics, and lessons learned through real-life applications of innovative technology.

    We also connect our network of authors and readers in ways that help them uncover opportunities and that lead to innovation and strategic advantage.


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