Fresh from the stage at DIA Prime Time 2020, we caught up with Stephane Flaquet, European CEO at HISCOX on his platform solution views, Covid, and why they continue to choose INSTANDA.
Q: Stephane, looking ahead and for the near term with Covid, what are your thoughts on the key attributes needed to be successful in markets in which you operate?
I believe the most important attributes in the current context are agility and adaptability. The level of uncertainty we are currently dealing with as an industry is very high: what will be the impact of the second lockdown on our staff and our business, how long and how deep will the recession be, what will happen when the measures taken by the government to support the economy will come to an end, what is the cost of the pandemic to the insurance industry, how will it change the landscape in terms of capacity, rates, T&C’s.
This starts with agile decision making. With such uncertainty, you need to be able to react quickly and adapt to new events: working from home set up, running your business in a more virtual way, making sure that you can continue to operate despite the challenges of remote working, new ways of communicating internally, new ways of engaging with your business partners and customers but also which existing activities or projects need to be paused, delayed, cancelled or continued. Equally, which new projects should be initiated.
The markets we serve in Europe are growing but like any sophisticated market, it is quite demanding, on product coverage, price and service. Our customer and broker expectations are constantly changing as they experience service in other industries. As Covid has impacted all of Europe, businesses have been impacted and their needs and demands have, in some cases dramatically changed. I read in a study this week that the digital adoption grew 20% over the past year, which is 4 times faster than the compound annual growth rate of the last 4 years.
The immediate priority was to continue to deliver the excellent service that is our differentiated value proposition and makes our reputation in the market. And we have done that. We have always been strong in delivering a high quality service and this served our customers well, especially in recent weeks during the pandemic. To continue to support our customers and grow our business we need to meet their needs and in all the countries we operate in. That requires real agility in our processes and particularly our technology capabilities.
We are also looking at enhancing the offer we provide, the coverage, the service, etc. We don’t stand still as our customers don’t as they are facing new risks! A concrete example would be around Event cancellation insurance, a coverage that we offer in a number of our European countries. Obviously with the lockdown and travel restrictions, a number of events like DIA have moved from physical to virtual or hybrid. The risks of virtual events are different. A few months ago, we have designed a brand new product in Germany for Virtual event cancellation.
To operate in this way, to do it efficiently, requires a technology that fosters business agility and allows you to quickly and continuously adapt to face the new market challenges and opportunities.
Q: What was the business challenge you we’re looking to solve when searching for a technology solution or partner?
Given the market needs and customer demands, the challenge for us was centred around speed and ease of change. We had tried different options over the years but in 2019 selected through an RFP process and then implemented INSTANDA.
If you have an old system where change is made through code or if front end changes are constrained by complex backend changes on legacy systems, that can be a big limitation in terms of time and cost, particularly when you operate in dynamic markets as we do. Then tensions emerge and the technology company can’t quickly adapt its architecture and system, taking us to consider different tactics and adopt integrated solutions that are designed for speed and ready for deployment, which is where we got to. We needed to choose a technology company that would be interested in partnering with us to tackle our business challenge but also could demonstrably show, that we would not be locked into our legacy system limitations.
Our main aim was to have change delivery capability as close as possible from the end business user (product owner, marketing teams…) and reduce our dependency on complex changes over legacy systems that typically involve several providers and engineering teams to accomplish, limiting business agility.
Q: Why did you choose INSTANDA?
Obviously the first step is making sure that the technology platform will meet your needs.
We were looking for speed and ease of change, and our desire was to be in control of that. When we looked around at options we saw a number of start-ups offering Low/No code insurance packages but not that many had a credible credentials in terms of delivery capacity and live implementation. When we took INSTANDA into the selection process, they stood out as a modern, very configurable platform that we could manage ourselves over time. We spent a fair amount of time looking at the solution through prototyping and proof of concept before making our decision.
The technology is only one dimension. It is mostly a pre-requisite. Other important factors influenced our decision making: quality and accessibility of the company leadership, cultural fit, alignment of objectives, etc.
But there are always things you don’t anticipate that you need and only through being able to work closely with the technology company can you successfully navigate the unexpected. Partnership is often an overused term; all tech firms want to be your partner! The acid test is how to deal with issues, how the technology partner will behave in those circumstances.
Seriously, in our case it was much more than hope, we had a very good sense we were entering into a long-term partnership with not just a great tech company but a great team. That has been proven during the time we have worked with INSTANDA.
The vast majority of things have gone well, however in a couple of other areas not so well. INSTANDA is not perfect and they face the same issues as any successful fast growing technology company. But we feel really good about the way we worked with INSTANDA to work the challenges through, and we did it genuinely as one team. It fills us with confidence about the future. We believe we are using one of the most cutting-edge platforms out there, and are happy to continuously work with INSTANDA to see it improving further, keeping up with the market, and equally if not more importantly, the attitude and passion of the INSTANDA team to deliver their best to us is aligned with our way of running our business.
Q: What did the INSTANDA solution look like?
Following the successful launch of our existing direct to consumer car product in Germany and Austria in May 2019, our German team has launched direct products covering Professional Indemnity, General Liability, Property and Cyber for SMEs on the INSTANDA platform.
At the same time, Hiscox France will migrate an existing Professional Indemnity and Cyber direct-to-consumer product to INSTANDA, and Hiscox Ireland will migrate the Professional Indemnity, Cyber, Employers Liability/Public Liability and Property broker portal onto the platform.
By Q4 2020 INSTANDA will be live in Ireland, with France and the Benelux region going live in early 2021.
This is a fairly complex programme of work across multiple geographies and distribution channels (Direct, Broker). Not everything went as planned as you would expect. We had a few gaps in terms of functionality that we fed into the INSTANDA product roadmap, and the migration of the book of business was painful.
An important factor is also to properly define and implement the operating model that will enable you as a client to take advantage of the new technology. Being clear about who is going to do what and where, and plan for it.
Q: Are there specific KPIs, measurements, or ROI data you can share that clearly demonstrates the value of INSTANDA?
One of our ambitions was self-sufficiency, to make changes when we wanted to. The INSTANDA no code model has enabled Hiscox to create our own ‘agile product factory’; a team of in-house and partner configurators trained on INSTANDA, who are adding more books, building new products and making changes whenever the business requires it.
We are still improving the model but I know the options are now available to us. That is a fantastic position to be in given how dynamic the markets we operate in are.
Our cost of product development and product launch cycle times have also reduced dramatically.
It is still early days but as we provide more self-service through the platform, I expect to see over time a reduction in call traffic to the ops team, the type we don’t are routine “can you help” and “how do I update” the data and more calls about other products and increasing cover.
Also with INSTANDA we don’t have to worry about costly upgrades.
Q: If you were to summarise the service you received from INSTANDA, what would you say?
INSTANDA is an end-to-end digital platform responding to a strong market need in a unique way. The platform’s flexibility combined with the operational efficiencies the software has provided has made it such an easy decision to continue to grow our partnership with INSTANDA.
The team are committed, experienced and love what they do. It shows.