The annual Insurance Canada Technology Awards (ICTAs) recognize organizations whose implementation and use of technology have an impact on the marketing, sale, processing and servicing of insurance in Canada.
The 2021 award winners, announced in May at the Insurance-Canada.ca virtual ICTA ceremony, are a window into the ways that insurance providers are harnessing digital advances to transform business models and processes. They also reveal industry trends expected to drive future transformation.
Two of this year’s notable award winners are Apollo Insurance and Coalition.
One trend is combining insurance with mechanisms to prevent loss and thus reduce the cost of claims. “Technology is creating new opportunities for loss prevention, such as vehicle telematics data that signal potential safety issues and apps that allow drivers to gain information to drive more safely,” says Doug Grant, partner at Insurance-Canada.ca Inc.
“Coalition marries sale of its cybersecurity insurance with tools and services designed to reduce cyber risk for policyholders,” says Mr. Grant. “It helps businesses prevent a costly loss, as well as reduce the impact of cyber crime on their bottom line.”
Businesses of all sizes, in all sectors, face a growing risk from cyber crime – with ransomware, funds-transfer fraud and email compromise the most common and costly cyber incidents.
Most cyber incidents and security failures are preventable, says Shawn Ram, head of insurance for Coalition. “But small and mid-sized businesses often find it challenging to access the cybersecurity expertise and tools to protect them from an adversarial attack.”
When businesses buy cyber insurance from Coalition, they also receive risk-management tools and services – at no extra cost – including real-time threat intelligence, automated security alerts and pre-breach security services.
Cybersecurity insurance is ideally positioned to help clients prevent and endure loss, says Mr. Ram. Cyber risk is not something that can be assessed periodically; the risk is continuous and ever-evolving as businesses update their technologies and attackers update their methods.
“As we built tools to assess risk on an ongoing basis, we recognized the tremendous opportunity to leverage those same tools for the benefit of our policyholders,” Mr. Ram says.
“Coalition’s mission is to solve cyber risk – to proactively help organizations prevent incidents, provide emergency first response when they occur, and help them recover operationally and financially in the aftermath.”
With its cybersecurity tools and services, Coalition has handled 45 per cent of reported events without filing a claim and avoiding any expense to the insured. The company’s incident response and claims teams have also recovered 84 per cent of all funds lost by policyholders in “social engineering” events – for example, when cyber criminals use methods to deceive a business into transferring funds.
“Rather than think of insurance as a necessary but reactive purchase that only provides value when you need to make a claim, your policy is providing proactive value by reducing risk and helping you run a sustainable business,” says Mr. Ram.
The insurance sector acted earlier to bring digital innovation to personal insurance, in home and auto policies, for example, says Mr. Grant. “Digital applications and processes for small business insurance were further behind, partly because small businesses have more complex and varied insurance needs.”
“Apollo Insurance has brought digital transformation to the marketplace in a way that benefits customers as well as brokers, the primary channel through which small business insurance is sold in Canada,” Mr. Grant says.
“I worked in a brokerage business serving customers, and I saw first-hand how far behind we were in process automation, at a time of growing customer expectations for digital interactions,” says Jeff McCann, Apollo’s co-founder and CEO. “It was clear that an online distribution business serving brokers and direct customers through new technologies would fill a gap in the market.”
Through the company’s proprietary platform, Apollo Exchange, brokers and their customers can purchase their policy – choosing among thousands of products – with unprecedented ease and speed.
“We’ve taken the six-week paper-based process down to about five minutes. It’s not just getting the quote; you can actually purchase the policy and have it emailed to you all in that same five minutes,” says Mr. McCann.
Apollo partners with insurance companies to digitize their small business products and incorporates them into a platform that its broker partners can use on behalf of customers or that customers can access directly through the brokers’ websites.
Co-founder and CEO, Apollo Insurance
Bringing innovation to the brokerage world will help attract younger, tech-savvy employees to the profession, adds Mr. McCann. He says the platform dramatically reduces the time a broker spends on paperwork, allowing them to spend more time building relationships. “We believe in the role of the broker in providing advice and counsel in this industry,” says Mr. McCann. “They want to go to one centralized point to access multiple insurance products, and that’s what Apollo Exchange offers.”
Apollo Exchange is also enhancing service to a growing segment in the insurance market.
“The pandemic fostered a renaissance of entrepreneurship, with record numbers of small business starts, says Mr. McCann. “If we can make getting insurance as frictionless as possible, those entrepreneurs can focus on their business, and that’s going to help with the overall reopening and economic recovery.”
Advertising feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.