March 12, 2018
What Happens When You Become a Verb
Why one insurtech that is putting structure to critical claims and underwriting data is becoming part of the industry’s lexicon.
It is not unusual to hear someone use Google as a verb in ordinary conversation: “I googled….” Being part of building a company that becomes so prevalent that your name is used as a verb is no small accomplishment.
A company I’m working with, Groundspeed, may be on its way to achieving verb status.
In October 2016, I reconnected with Jeff Mason, the CEO of Groundspeed (he was part of a management team at a company I had endeavored to acquire earlier in my career). In all my dealings as a strategy consultant, a P&C executive and now in an investment capacity, I have maintained that for any new tech businesses to get real traction in the insurance sector, particularly in serving the incumbents, you had better be laser-focused on solving important industry (economic) issues, and Jeff had a vision to solve a very important industry problem.
In the ordinary service of clients, brokers receive multi-page client loss (runs) information from their carrier partners in the form of PDFs and other not particularly consumable forms. On the flip side, when larger (loss-rated) business is submitted to carriers for quoting, the claims, exposure basis and other relevant information used for rating is provided in unstructured (frequently PDF) forms that are costly to interpret and input into systems. In both cases, the current process to prepare this information is completely manual, involving days of work, sifting through hundreds of data sources and thousands of document formats. In the end, 90% of the data is lost.
Although this problem is less visible than some, the financial cost is substantial — Groundspeed estimates that agents and brokers spend 3% of revenue, or $4.2 billion a year, on manual processes to ingest and analyze unstructured client data and that carriers spend approximately $2.7 billion a year manually processing and analyzing unstructured files attached to inbound application “submissions.” Groundspeed is singularly focused on solving this problem – bringing down costs, improving accuracy and, most importantly, providing dramatic strategic benefit by unlocking information that goes to the core of underwriting performance.
Groundspeed has built a one-of-kind solution that transforms the unstructured information to the exact specifications of its clients through machine learning, natural language processing and data pipeline as a service. Brokers and carriers submit unstructured loss run, policy and exposure documents and receive structured information back — effectively getting any view of underwriting performance they require (client loss performance over time, portfolio profitability, performance by loss attachment point, etc.).
For brokers, the benefits are obvious; they have far better information to serve their clients without the quality issues and costs of endeavoring to do the most basic analysis manually. They also get the strategic benefit of better understanding their portfolio in terms of the underwriting profits they are creating for their carrier partners.
For carriers, the benefits, too, are obvious. Tactically, the Groundspeed approach is simply a better, faster, less expensive process to get loss experience data into their rating systems, converting statement of values to forms ingestible by cat modelers, etc. Strategically, carriers get the benefit of building a “data lake of structured information” of all submissions they receive, from which discrete analysis and insight on growth opportunities and market underwriting performance can be gleaned. (Most carriers don’t retain the information on accounts they choose not to quote, or quote and lose.)
See also: How to Embrace Insurtech Culture
Fast forward to 18 months after I reconnected with Jeff: February was a milestone month. Now working with eight of the top 15 brokers (all C-suite relationships), Groundspeed was given the ultimate compliment when a partner at a major strategy consulting firm shared with us that a client stated that “all we would need to do is Groundspeed our data.”
Groundspeed may have a ways to go before it joins Google as an official verb in the Oxford English Dictionary, but even to be used as a verb by one prospect is an important success.