Insight and Intelligence on the London & International Insurance Markets 22 Oct 2017
- 22 August 2017
It is a basic rule of technology adoption that the tech must be better than what it is replacing.
Cars definitely beat horses.
When I walked through the door of St Clare House in the Minories in 1992 to take up a graduate job in broking we still had a typing pool and a 99 percent paper system for placing (re)insurance and collecting claims.
The 1 percent was provided by the claims department, which was slightly more advanced because it had a Limnet terminal with which it could send secure text messages to markets on a risk to notify them of claims.
For placing brokers, renewing a risk meant photocopying last year's slip, marking up the changes by hand and waiting for the typists to write them out from scratch.
But within a year we all had shiny green screen terminals on our desks running something magical called Brokasure. It was pretty good. I and my fellow brokers had to learn how to type, but our typing pool was instantly freed up to start developing new skills as insurance technicians.
A couple of years later as the electronic placing support (EPS) initiative was coming on the radar, Brokasure asked if we would trial a new placing system adorned with the impossibly futuristic moniker of Broker 2000.
As the youngest of the team, I was volunteered as the guinea pig. I went over to Brokasure expecting to be set ablaze by the incandescence of technology.
Sadly I wasn't.
The clunky system I was shown was a million miles away from being fit for purpose. It didn't do any of the things that brokers needed to do. And worst of all, it created extra work for me.
Broker 2000 was like using two carthorses to pull your brand new car along.
Unsurprisingly, EPS was collectively ignored and quietly disappeared, never to be mentioned again.
Last week - a full 23 years later - I went to another software demo.
This time the platform in question was the latest incarnation of the Placing Platform Limited (PPL) and my expectations were far more tempered and middle-aged.
I'm really happy to report that the latest release of this London market placing software will do the job very nicely indeed.
Crucially it is far, far better than paper.
This automobile runs on gas.
Everyone gets to see who said what to whom and what documentation they were basing their decisions on. It is fully auditable and is a single version of the truth ready to be passed down the chain to the accounts and claims departments.
Crucially, even the biggest paper obsessives are well catered for - perhaps even over-accommodated. They can stop and print off anything in the chain whenever they wish.
They also don't need to bother entering a risk into the system until they have a firm order - the apocryphal restaurant napkin will still suffice pre-bind.
Bigger brokers are likely to fully integrate this into their own systems to save time.
The interface is okay, but if you don't like it you could build your own and run this in the background. If there was enough demand I'm sure a third party could make and sell cooler versions with groovy user-friendly interfaces and mobile apps.
In short, the wait is finally over.
There is no excuse not to use this. It works, will make everyone's life easier and improve client service beyond all recognition.
It is good enough for its use to be mandated.
So Broker 2017 - it's time to put old dobbin out to grass and get yourself a driving licence. We're finally ready to roll.
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