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Less noise, more value: giving underwriters more time to underwrite

Written by Jolijn Schalkwijk on Jan 25, 2024

CGI offers strategic IT and Business Consulting services globally, focusing on ways to improve business agility and manage change. The company helps insurers prepare for the future of insurance, building new digital business models to better adapt to the ever-increasing pace of change in the industry. We sat down with Darren Rudd, Head of Business and Technology Consulting for the Insurance sector within CGI in the UK, to discuss how CGI can help underwriters write more of the right business.

Darren, what do you think are the main problems that underwriters face?

Darren: “One of the areas that we’ve been particularly focused on solving, is underwriting. Now, when people look at solving problems, they often jump straight to digital transformation, looking for the big grand win. We’ve taken a slightly different perspective on this based on our conversations with business leaders.

In my conversations with the CUO of a large insurance organization, she mentioned that one of the biggest challenges she had was that her teams received too many emails. There was too much noise going on. 90% of what they received, they didn’t respond to, and of the 10% that they replied to, she was not convinced that 10% was the right 10%. That figure blew me away. There aren’t many industries that don’t respond to 90% of the business that they’re offered.

We did some research and we found that there are increasing challenges in organisations. McKinsey found that 40% of underwriters’ time is spent on admin tasks. When we spoke to underwriters, they said that this figure is probably closer to 60 to 70%. Emails, long documents, and systems are creating the noise.”

What do you think the business opportunity is here?

Darren: “When we’ve looked at the business case, we found that small incremental change will win out over big digital transformation programs. So, we help underwriters do a little bit more, respond quicker, increase their conversion rates and spend more time understanding which bits of business they want to write first so that they can prioritize that and increase the gross written premium that they can write. This way we have given the underwriter back more time to think about what they’re underwriting and reduce their loss ratios. 

All of that builds up to some big figures. Let’s take the example of a team of five underwriters writing a £15 million book of business – that comes in potentially between 3 and 5 million added to the top line. That’s a huge difference: the equivalent of adding 2 to 3 underwriters to that team, not only saving the recruitment effort but housing them and managing them. It’s a big change.”

How can CGI help underwriters?

Darren: “We want to provide underwriters with the tools, data and enhanced workflows they need to transform how they prioritize, allocate and process risks. Underwriters have already worked out quite efficient ways of working over the last few years. What they have though, is frustrations with some of the systems and ways of working. How do we help them deal with those frustrations, rather than trying to radically transform the way they work? We’ve collaboratively broken it down into smaller chunks, very focused on those areas that we both think need to be improved and fixed. There are different types of challenges:

  1. If e-mail is where most of the underwriters’ business comes from, but Outlook is difficult to run, we’ll give them something better to use than Outlook.
  1. If the underwriter has too many emails and doesn’t know what to work on first, we’ll give them a system that can look into those emails, understand what’s inside, the risks that are being offered, and based on the rules that you’ve set, we’ll prioritize that information for underwriters to decide what you want to work on first.
  1. If the underwriters are spending too much time reading redundant documents, they can use additional technology and machine learning to look into those documents and highlight specific information.
  1. Most of the underwriters in the commercial space, particularly in the London market, are still using spreadsheets. They don’t want to lose those. That’s not a problem: we will reuse those spreadsheets, but just give you more control and efficiency, so data can be passed in and outside of those documents.”

Why do you think cutting it up into smaller chunks is the way to go?

Darren: “This way, we can deliver value to the underwriters quickly so that they can adapt and learn. Our underwriting workbench, CGI Elements360 Workbench, provides a collaborative way of working and is very flexible. I know we hear a lot about AI and generative AI, but we think underwriting is going to still require human expertise. It is about enhancing the way the underwriters work. One of the things that we’ve done in the platform is build it as a set of components.

Working as a systems integrator we can bring those components together to become a certain solution for that organization. But I’m also mindful that my customers have invested in their bricks and their systems, some of which they will want to retain. So, I can add their bricks to mine. We have a great ecosystem of other suppliers and vendors that have great tools and bricks to add. So, the whole platform is designed to be very flexible and collaborative.”

Who is CGI?

CGI offers strategic IT and business consulting services globally, focusing on ways to improve business agility and manage change. 80% of leading UK insurers partner with CGI, and they have 200+ insurance clients worldwide. Their specialist team consists of over 3500 insurance professionals.

Daren Rudd, VP, Business and Technology Consulting, UK Insurance, CGI
Amsterdam 12-13 June

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