SchemeServe’s COO John Price is a man in a hurry. He talks super-fast, spinning ideas, insights and observations on the insurance industry out at a rapid pace. Insurance Edge caught up with John over the festive season, looking back on an exciting 2018 and looking ahead to many more changes as the New Year gets going.
IE: SchemeServe has been involved in the Lloyds Innovation Lab, tell us more about that.
JP: There are lots of really good ideas around now in the Insurtech space, but very few come to fruition because they often need huge amounts of money behind them. Lloyds is brilliant at helping start-ups connect with the right people in the industry and we are really quite proud of our involvement with the Lab.
Basically, we get to mentor a team for a 10-week period; bring them to meet brokers, insurers, and introduce them to the types of schemes that we produce and so on. Just brilliant, hard working innovative people, helping them bring ideas to the marketplace really quickly. The next cohort is due to meet us at the end of January, so looking forward to getting busy in the New Year.
IE: Speed to market really is a race these days isn’t it?
JP: Yes, definitely. We have become pretty good at bringing products to market quickly ourselves, to the point where some potential customers don’t believe us. During the sales pitch process we have now learned it’s a good idea to have some sample new scheme web pages ready to go, so we can demonstrate just how fast we can work for clients.
IE: How fast are we talking, three months?
JP: Three or four weeks would be the normal timeframe to get a scheme up and running. Our company record is just five days, but I’m not going to sit here and pretend that’s do-able every time! We are adept at putting together the right building blocks very, very fast and sometimes we may already have another product on SchemeServe for that client, so we have a good idea as regards the features they will probably need on their new project.
Most of our software experts are ex-underwriters, with good contacts and lots of industry experience, so that is another big advantage when you’re designing a new product.
IE: What are the typical problems that you can solve when developing new insurance schemes?
JP: SchemeServe was born from the frustrations of years trading with other software providers. The three most painful experiences revolved around speed and cost of delivery and having to speak to people that didn’t understand the business, so we focussed on eradicating those problems. We hired former underwriters to deliver schemes in a matter of weeks or less and for as little as £2,000 without sacrificing on security, flexibility, customisation or user experience.
We can even go to pitch meetings with a new scheme virtually built, in their company house style for example.. So even if a broker hasn’t got an insurer on board, standing behind an idea yet, we can create something that looks real – ready to go – and that can help make it a reality for them.
IE: So you can already work out rates, postcode variations, commission structure etc – like a prototype supercar at a motor show then?
JP: Very much so. Brokers or Intermediaries can sometimes say `you can’t do this or that though, can you?’ and we always try to have something in the can that’s really close to what they want. All that preparation builds trust and demonstrates credibility.
IE: What’s the most unusual scheme that you’ve worked on?
JP: We’ve been asked about Llama insurance. That was a real super-niche product, a million miles from regular dog, cat or rabbit insurance. We also launched a memorial headstone scheme last year, which is something really simple, easy to use. All it requires is just one touch of a `Yes’ box on an iPad or tablet at a Stonemason’s business – no intrusive questions being asked to grieving relatives. It’s one of those situations where you can’t ask the policyholder to answer questions like ‘is the ground liable to flooding’ at that point in their life – just isn’t fair. So it’s all about thinking differently, in this case using technology creatively to be sympathetic to the customer’s needs.
IE: We are in 2019, what are your predictions for the year ahead?
JP: I think we will see a move to insuring things rather than people, such as semi-autonomous cars for example. The car’s movements, speed, location, usage etc is going to become more relevant than the policyholder.
I can see many gadgets or cars being insured centrally, rather than by third party, because of things like product liability. Also drones being used far more to settle claims, particularly in the case of major incidents, like say floods. What is the point of individually inspecting every single riverside property when a drone can take footage of an entire area?
Also think that more assessor work will be carried out by non-insurance staff, such as Post Office staff, supermarket delivery drivers and so on, like the US We Go Look model. That will make the claims process much more streamlined. Tech like sensors within home appliances, like Hive, or home gadgets like Alexa will also help change the face of contents insurance in the next few years.
IE: So a homeowner will get a phone app alert about temperature change, or water pressure dropping and be required to do something about it, sooner rather than later?
JP: We have started to design schemes where some of that new alert technology is built into the product. The industry needs to make the speed of response to an emergency a higher priority than the actual settlement of the claim. That’s where the big savings are, for consumers and the industry.
IE: John thank you, have a great 2019.