September 4, 2020
It’s the first week of September, and for me, as I’m sure is the case with many others, those first few digits of the month are still hard coded into my brain as the return to school.
Needless to say, conditions for the ‘class of 2020’ are without precedent, in recent or even distant memory. I imagine that all of us facing a return to Lloyd's can relate to this same schoolroom predicament.
Like teachers rotating around classes, racking up interactions one by one, brokers may now be carrying more than one risk to their underwriters. In the new normal, risk follows us into work and sits next to us on the way home.
Reflecting on the situation during my usual back-to-school nostalgia, I remembered a chance encounter at a Monzo event back in ‘17. It was one of the first ‘free beer and pizza’ startup events Jerad and I attended together (and on those terms, far from the last) before we set about building Riskbook.
The startup we met was ShowMyHomework: a software platform built for teachers, students and parents to exchange and track homework assignments. Working with schools, they designed a slick UX and created a digital haven for the data normally lost in scrappy bundles of photocopied paper.
Pre-crisis, a third of UK schools were already using their software. Not because they saw the pandemic coming, but because students, teachers and parents loved it.
For schools yet to adopt, the shortage of digital capabilities is making an already very difficult scenario that much worse. In-house systems face a huge test, if they exist at all, as students explode inbox limits trying to submit phone camera pictures of their work. Some have reluctantly given up on homework altogether.
Our beloved reinsurance industry faces a similar test as we approach the winter renewal season. Here, collaborative digital tech suffers from even sparser adoption. But then again, we’ve always been the last industry on the menu for startups who, coming from the outside, tend not to understand our rather bespoke requirements.
As brokers and underwriters, we felt trapped by a lack of decent reinsurance technology, long before ‘how do we do this digitally?’ got a whole lot more pressing. That’s why Jerad and I quit our jobs: to build a radically better placing experience for our community. We believed in the power of digital tools to enable collaboration, creativity and insight: and that disruption, disintermediation and commoditization were unnecessary.
As we all work together to avoid a second wave, tech enthusiasts might be interested to read Steve Case’s book on the third (The Third Wave). Topically, his prophecy is that regulated industries with high barriers to entry - education, healthcare and financial services - are the next frontier for digital technology. And that the critical ingredient will be collaboration between industry specialists and entrepreneurs.
At Riskbook, we’re thrilled to be working closely with cedents, brokers and reinsurers on a digital experience that was until now unimaginable. We hope our solution will be useful to the reinsurance community during these tough times, and long afterwards too. Why not join today at www.supercede.com and see what we’ve been working on?
Good luck to everyone packing kids off to school this week, and for those returning to Lime Street, stay safe.
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