Technology can unlock the true value of data

VIPR CEO, Paul Templar, and Steve Farrell, Global COO of Acrisure Re, discuss the importance of technology in unlocking the true value of data in the delegated authority space.
Automated processes and collaborative working will usher in the future of faster value-added analysis in the delegated space."

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Automated processes and collaborative working will usher in the future of faster value-added analysis in the delegated space, argue Paul Templar of VIPR and Steve Farrell of Acrisure Re.

Sharing data within the delegated authority (DA) market is crucial for reporting purposes but embracing truly frictionless data sharing can also improve overall business performance – if certain challenges can be overcome.

These challenges include the widespread use of non-standard data, which must be cleansed and validated before it can be analysed. Equally, some of the technologies used to clean, validate, and share the data are not good enough. Those are the views of two senior professionals in the DA space who argue that, for this market to reach its full potential, data sharing needs to fully embrace automation. This, they believe, has the potential to generate higher quality data and analysis.

Paul Templar, CEO at VIPR, a provider of data-driven intelligence solutions, said in an interview with Intelligent Insurer that his firm repeatedly sees the same problems, which impede progress.

“We’ve spent a lot of time within the Lloyd’s of London market and the London company market, and, in more recent years, we have spent time working in Europe and in the US. But we are always solving the same problems,” he said.

“We see the same thing over and over; companies that are not using systems to validate data. Instead, they are still performing manual tasks to get the data in shape.”

This often involves a great deal of manual copying and pasting from spreadsheets into master templates. This is labour intensive and means “really throwing people at the problem,” he added.

Templar stressed this is not the most efficient approach He said: “It’s just scratching the surface of what is possible with data management.”

Automated, or smart, systems can help improve data validation and are critical where firms wish to also do value-added analysis. It is very hard to achieve the standard required manually, he said.

This is particularly relevant when you consider that, as a business, VIPR processes around 375,000 bordereaux reports (a periodical report from an insurer to its reinsurer listing either the assets covered, or the claims paid) a year. Templar said these are mostly Excel-based reports that can contain hundreds of thousands of data items.

Seeking standards

The experience of Steve Farrell, global chief operating officer of reinsurance broker Acrisure Re, illustrates the challenge of ensuring good quality data across the DA market.

He said insurers provide templates for data reporting, and Acrisure Re assists its MGA clients in reporting to those standards. But his firm often faces challenges once the data reporting starts.

“Typically, we will see missing data fields, incorrect data or data not being split the way the insurer requires it, such as tax splits,” he said.

Standards are published to support MGAs in providing better quality data, particularly by Lloyd’s, but it can be technically difficult for coverholders to provide exactly what is needed, Farrell added.

Templar said: “Sometimes their systems of record just don’t allow for that sort of format. Sometimes they’re not technically sophisticated; it can be hard for them to conform to a particular standard. There are lots of reasons why particular data might not come through in a single common consistent format.”

He said this was “the crux of the challenge” for brokers and insurers receiving large amounts of data every month. “To be able to get that into a standard shape before you can even start to look at it has certainly been quite a challenge.”

The solution

What can be done to improve this situation?

As a tech-driven broker, Farrell said his firm has invested heavily in tech solutions in recent years in two ways: through the implementation of a new broker system and a new bordereaux management tool.

“We chose VIPR’s Intrali product for the bordereaux management tool but insisted that it be integrated into our broker system. I’m pleased to say VIPR was able to deliver.

“This means that we’re now ingesting risk level data through the lifecycle of a contract, which helps to keep our clients’ markets more closely aligned. It also removes the need for us to perform time consuming, manual reconciliations on a periodic basis.”

Templar added that VIPR receives a lot of data mostly in excel formats. This system helps manage that. “Systems like ours help with that because they’re able to efficiently get you from point A to point B, which is having clean, concise data.

“But we’re now putting processes in place to make that whole data supply chain more streamlined.”

He pointed to his firm’s product Portal, which allows coverholders to log in and drag and drop data. This then flows to VIPR’s Intrali platform from word processing.

“We’re publishing APIs, which allows for system-to-system integration. We’re working with some of the system providers that MGAs are using to connect peer-to-peer, system to system, so that we can pull data on more of a real-time basis.”

Templar said that these advances can allow brokers and underwriters to make decisions much more quickly on the data that comes through.

He added: “I think we will have Excel- based bordereaux for some time to come but we’re doing as much as we can to try and remove those from the picture and get to the point where we can simply take data from one system and flow it through our own.”

Farrell and Templar agree that the key to achieving truly frictionless data sharing is to work together across the market.

“I see collaboration between clients, markets, brokers and vendors being key to driving efficiencies in our industry,” Farrell said. “And I think the delegated space is where the biggest efficiencies can be gained.

“Furthermore, with the onset of Lloyd’s Blueprint 2 there’s a real opportunity to drive a huge benefit for delegated business in the London market. But we need to work together to achieve that, and tech suppliers will be instrumental to that success, so I believe that continual sharing of ideas with our vendor is key to our relationship.”

Paul Templar is the chief executive officer of VIPR. He can be contacted at:

Steve Farrell is the global chief operating officer at Acrisure Re. He can be contacted at:

You can find out more about the implementation of VIPR products at Acrisure Re here.