The Connected Claims Summit, organised by Insurance Nexus, took place this week in Swiss Cottage in London. Although not on the same scale as the ITC in Las Vegas earlier this month, it was nonetheless a well-attended event with delegates and speakers from all over the EU and further afield as well.

This was a much more focused topic than that covered at many of the InsurTech events that have taken place this year, but I can reassure you that had you been hoping to fill out your buzzword bingo card, you wouldn't have been disappointed!

I have long been an advocate for the importance of hanging your hat on a high quality claims service if you hope to be recognised as an insurance entity that is truly customer-centric. Given that many InsurTech startups have focused on product and UX at the front end of the insurance process, it was refreshing to hear from both incumbents and startups who are effecting real change in how claims will be managed more effectively to the benefit of the customer, thanks to tech. I was equally enthused that there was relatively little discussion about fraud, a concern of the industry, not their customers.

As I had been asked to speak on the subject of future talent in Claims, and also to moderate a panel on same, I took quite a lot of time before the event really trying to understand what, if anything, had changed since I last handled a Claim myself in 2005. Sadly, despite some enhancements to the administrative process, it appeared the honest answer was 'not a lot.' I am by background a London Market man, and Claims professionals here are still burdened with multi-keying claims in to various systems - although it appears ECF has improved that at least a little. 

However, the Claims professional is not an idle individual, and those that I spoke to are employing innovative techniques to remove unnecessary cost associated with drawn out claims processes, and this I found hugely encouraging. It reminded me that not all innovations have to involve some funky new technology, and in fact when systems let them down, they find other ways to make themselves more effective (one senior professional I spoke to lauded the benefits of front loading cost in the wake of a natural disaster to ensure they can finalise straight forward claims as quickly and painlessly as possible, to allow themselves more time to focus on the challenging and complex issues).

This sentiment of freeing up the Claims team to focus on the more (often both emotional and) technical losses was consistently addressed by the many talented and insightful speakers from across the insurance sector (even including a broker!). And in fact the ultimate takeaway for me was one that I took in to the event. 

For the current insurance model, technology should be seen as a facilitator - as providing tools that can free up the human workforce to focus on making decisions that will often involve tough negotiations, emotional investment, and viewing things from several perspectives. If the industry is bogged down in unnecessary processes, it has less time to focus on the true value added service it is there to provide. 

Be it RPA, AI, Blockchain, AR, telematics, wearables, or any of the vast array of tech that was discussed this week, ultimately all of these tools will allow brokers and insurers to take as much of the pain as possible out of what are invariably hugely stressful experiences for their clients.

Special thanks to Craig Polley for his excellent moderation and chairing of the conference over the two days.