Sponsored: Delphi Technology Inc.

4 Critical Traits of a Successful Digital Innovation Partner

In a fast-paced world where technology changes almost daily, insurers need to innovate to survive.
By: | May 30, 2017 • 6 min read

A persistent soft market and a crop of new start-ups are driving competition among insurers all vying for customers’ attention and loyalty. Given the challenging environment, digitization has become a critical strategy for insurers of all sizes.

Small and medium sized companies leverage technology to get a leg up on the big players still grappling with legacy systems. But bigger and older carriers can likewise hold on to their competitive edge by taking advantage of modern tools and embracing digitization.

Cutting out manual, paper-based methods maximizes efficiency, but it also eases communication with brokers and insureds, improves overall customer experience, and helps to attract and retain talent.

An explosion of InsureTech companies have burst onto the scene – roughly 1,000 so far – to meet the demand for technology solutions. But do they really check all the boxes insurers need?

To harness the benefits of digital innovation, insurers require a technology partner that understands their business and brings multiple best-in-class capabilities to the table.

  1. Modern Platform

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John Flavin, Senior Vice President and Chief Business Development Officer

Excellent user experience is a critical piece of modern technology platforms that legacy systems sorely lack.

Policy administration systems that are accessible by desktop computer, laptop, tablet and cell phones allow users more flexibility. Integration with the web through an online portal not only makes device independence possible, but also allows for communication with other admin systems in separate departments.

“Legacy systems often can’t communicate with each other,” said John Flavin, Senior Vice President and Chief Business Development Officer, Delphi Technology. “Sharing policy updates with stakeholders across departments is a long and cumbersome process with these monolithic systems that can’t talk to one another.”

Along with flexibility and convenience, a modern user experience also provides greater speed and consistency. Web integration allows for real time updates, so users see the most updated version of a policy or product definition every time they log on.

“Customers expect that processing be done in real time. Whether it’s real time quoting or real time access to policy information, they expect to see the point-in-time view of a product when they log into the portal,” Flavin said.

Speed allows for faster collaboration on a product and the ability to make changes quickly, which ultimately allows insurers to get to the market faster.

  1. Self- Service and Flexible Configurations

A modern system that allows communication between policy administration systems and multiple stakeholders also enables a degree of self-service by both underwriters and policyholders.

“Typically, if you want to know if a product manager has filed a rate revision or made any updates to a policy, you would have to contact them directly, and that can lead to a game of phone tag. What we’ve done with our Delphi Accelerator workbench tool is allow visualization of the data for all parties,” Flavin said. “A standalone product workbench designed to interface or integrate with any policy admin system is a new concept.”

Stakeholders can view product definitions, coverages, rates and forms and other filings without disturbing the product manager, potentially saving a significant chunk of time. Product managers in turn can take advantage of flexible system configurations to make adjustments in the product workbench and deploy it to multiple admins systems, rather than having to reconfigure products in each system separately.

“Generally what happens today is the configuration happens in the policy admin system, and medium to large insurance carrier may have anywhere from five to ten policy admin systems. They would need to configure a product in each system individually according to its unique tools,” Flavin said. “What we’re trying to do with Delphi Accelerator is eliminate that configuration, and allow product managers to do that configuration one time and then publish it to the five of the ten different systems that they have.”

Likewise, agents and policyholders can access their insurer much more readily using digital tools and online portals.

“Digital innovation has allowed carriers to provide better service to customers at times that are convenient for them,” Flavin said.

  1. Industry Expertise

Technology partners who deliver the best customer experience also have deep knowledge of the insurance industry. This is where InsureTech companies often can’t compete. As pure technology companies, they sometimes lack an understanding of the processes and needs of insurance carriers looking to modernize old methods.

“Having the tools to digitize processes is all well and good, but understanding of the insurance marketplace and regulations is necessary in order to use those tools effectively,” Flavin said,

“The insurance business is still about the people, the product and the process, and digital tools should exist to aid those processes, not replace them,” he added. “Tools should help insurers connect with their customers in the way that customers want to connect, and deliver products in the way customers want to receive them.”

Technology providers with an acute sense of what product managers need can develop the tools that best soothe those pain points.

  1. Leverage Industry Data

The ability to pull in industry standards definitions and updates, and then layer in carrier-specific definitions, is another advantage of modern tools.

“No longer do product managers have to read through paper pages of bulletins and circulars from industry-standard rating agencies like ISO and NAAS,” Flavin said.

The Delphi Accelerator workbench tool can import that data and centralize it, making it easier for managers to analyze and reconfigure as necessary to meet carrier-defined specifications. Then, Delphi Accelerator can export that data to Delphi Policy.

Delphi Policy is designed to be flexible and configurable. It can not only accept and use the content that Delphi Accelerator provides to it, but also allow for external data sources to help pre-fill external applications or supply the underwriter with additional data so they can make more timely decisions regarding risk eligibility and acceptability.

Delphi Accelerator and Delphi Policy were built to support a number of different data providers. Their ability to import and export data lets the system act as a central data hub and the primary site for policy changes.

“Digital innovation for insurance companies will largely take place behind the scenes. With Delphi Accelerator and Delphi Policy, it’s about creating the product offering and tweaking it before it’s exposed to the market,” Flavin said.

Modern, digital tools that open up communication between multiple parties, increase ease of doing business, and cut out paperwork helps to create space for innovation.

In a fast-paced world where technology changes almost daily, insurers need to innovate to survive, especially with increasing competitive pressure from startups and nonconventional insurers who are better positioned to take advantage of the latest tech.

To learn more about Delphi Policy, visit www.Delphi-Tech.com.

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This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Delphi Technology Inc. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.




Delphi Technology is the recognized leader in technology solutions for medical professional liability insurance and an emerging provider of technology solutions for property and casualty insurance.

Risk Management

The Profession

This senior risk manager values his role in helping Varian Medical Systems support research and technologies in the fight against cancer.
By: | September 12, 2017 • 5 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

When I was 15 years old I had a summer job working for the city of Plentywood, mowing grass in the parks and ballfields, emptying garbage cans, hauling waste to the dump, painting crosswalk lines.  A great job for a teenager but I thought getting a college degree and working in an air-conditioned office would be a good plan long term.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

I was enrolled in the University of Montana as a general business student, and I wanted to declare a more specialized major during my sophomore year. I was working for my dad at his insurance agency over the summer, and taking new agent training coursework on property/casualty risks in my spare time, so I had an appreciation for insurance. My dad suggested I research risk management for a career, and I transferred sight unseen to the University of Georgia to enroll in their risk management program. I did an internship as a senior with the risk management department at Sulzer Medica, and they offered me a full time job.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

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We need to do a better job of saying yes. We tend to want to say no to many risks, but there are upside benefits to some risks. If we initiate a collaborative exercise with the risk owners — people who may have unique knowledge about that particular risk — and include a cross section of people from other corporate functions, you can do an effective job of taking the risk apart to analyze it, figure out a way to manage that exposure, and then reap the upside benefits while reducing the downside exposure. That can be done with new products and new service offerings, when there isn’t coverage available for a risk. It’s asking, is there anything we can do to reduce the risk without transferring it?

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

Cyber liability. There’s so much at stake and the bad guys are getting more resourceful every day. At Varian, our first approach is to try to make our systems and products more resilient, so we’re trying to direct resources to preventing it from happening in the first place. It’s a huge reputation risk if one of our products or systems were compromised, so we want to avoid that at all costs.

We need to do a better job of saying yes. We tend to want to say no to many risks, but there are upside benefits to some risks.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?

I’ve worked with a number of great ones over the years. We’ve enjoyed a great property insurance relationship with Zurich. Their loss control services are very valuable to us. On the umbrella liability side, it’s been great partnering with companies like Swiss Re and Berkley Life Sciences because they’ve put in the time and effort to understand our unique risk exposures.

R&I: How much business do you do direct versus going through a broker?

One hundred percent through a broker. I view our broker as an extension of our risk management team. We benefit from each team member’s respective area of expertise and experience.

R&I: Is the contingent commission controversy overblown?

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I think so. The brokers were kind of villainized by Spitzer. I think it’s fair for brokers and insurers to make a reasonable profit, and if a portion of their profit came from contingent commissions, I’m fine with that. But I do appreciate the transparency and disclosure that came out as a result of the fiasco.

R&I: Are you optimistic about the US economy or pessimistic and why?

David Collins, Senior Manager, Risk Management, Varian Medical Systems Inc.

While we might be doing fine here in the U.S. from an economic perspective, the Middle East is a mess, and we’re living with nuclear threat from North Korea. But hope springs eternal, so I’m cautiously optimistic. I’m hoping saner minds prevail and our leaders throughout the world work together to make things better.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

My Dad got me started down the insurance and risk path. I’ve also been fortunate to work for or with a number of University of Georgia alumni who’ve been mentors for me. I’ve worked side by side with Karen Epermanis, Michael Rousseau, and Elisha Finney. And I’ve worked with Daniel Dean in his capacity as a broker.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

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Raising my kids. I have a 15-year-old and 12-year-old, and they’re making mom and dad proud of the people they’re turning into.

On a professional level, a recent one would be the creation and implementation of our global travel risk program, which was a combined effort between security, travel and risk functions.

We have a huge team of service personnel around the world, traveling to customer sites to do maintenance and repair. We needed a way to track, monitor and communicate with them. We may need to make security arrangements or vet their lodging in some circumstances.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

My 12-year-old son thought my job responsibilities could be summed up as a “professional worrier.” And that’s not too far off.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

Varian’s mission is to focus energy on saving lives. Proper administration of the risk function puts the company in a better position to financially support research that improves products and capabilities, helps to educate health care providers and support cancer care in general. It means more lives saved from a terrible disease. I’m proud to contribute toward that.

When you meet someone whose cancer has been successfully treated with one of our products, it’s a powerful reward.




Katie Siegel is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]