Creativity in Technology Solutions

Part of our DNA is the belief in the ‘art of underwriting’, and we’ve previously written about how we see a place for creativity in insurance.

We have that same belief when it comes to our approach to technology. We’re a management-owned, young insurance business, that is technology-enabled. We’re small enough to be nimble and to innovate, yet large enough to commit resources to create new solutions.

For decades, London Market insurance executives have targeted expense ratio improvements through technology. Modern software techniques such as Agile and Domain Driven Design are well established in applications like e-trade and digital distribution, underwriting systems, process automation and data-warehousing.

However, at Probitas, we’ve pushed beyond this status quo and created our own unique technology culture.

Collaboration is just the starting point

Underwriters are our eyes and ears, pinpointing where we can deliver an efficient and seamless service. Together as a team, we can then assemble proprietary open-source software components. These become the building blocks for more powerful digital tools. Tools which can improve on what currently exists and make an impact to each of the stakeholders, the business, the brokers and, of course, the policyholder.

We’ve found that working collaboratively allows us to debate and stress test our ideas. Really question the status quo to start out on a journey of discovery.

To enable this collaboration to work effectively, we’ve made careful technology choices; adopting mature technologies, establishing in-house capabilities and focusing on cloud-first solutions. It’s enabled us to adapt and pivot when needed, and continue to build specialist know-how, such as:

  • managing complexity – even our simplest Actuarial models contain 12,000 calculation nodes and require over 6,000 calculation steps to fully update.
  • integrating underwriting, admin and pricing applications – all of our pricing tools are integrated into automated workflows.

Exploration is a key part of a creative approach

During the early stages of any technology project, it’s important to go down different routes, to test out what could work, see how far ideas can be pushed and, if a concept can be broken. Just because one route works well for situation A, doesn’t mean that it’s also right for situation B. Exploration allows us to push to the point of either failure or success.

You can certainly learn just as much, if not more, from the failures. Analysing why it didn’t work and reverse engineering from there. Breaking down the model and rebuilding again. We can understand things better when it has been broken down, the remains have been picked through and you start to identify the valuable elements.

These phases of testing also lead to creative confidence. Enabling us to act with certainty about what is possible, rather than getting distracted by barriers and restrictions. Thinking creatively ensures we push ourselves out of the realms of what is perceived to be possible, further and to new levels. Not allowing ourselves to be deterred by complexities or regulation, and to continually move ideas forward.

Celebrating the small wins

Creativity is not always just about detailed technical specifications. We also need to be creative with the small changes, ones that could be implemented to make the user experience better. These areas often get overlooked, particularly when the focus is on the complexities of technology, but they are likely to have a great impact on the users’ adoption of the technology. Simple solutions, like prefilled information, logical process, buttons placed in the right place and of the right colour, it really can be the smallest of detail that makes the difference between good and great.

We cannot lose sight of how important the human element is, because, in order to be successful, solutions need to be of real benefit and value. Sense checking during any project is essential to remain focused on the end-user. It is often the users perspective that provides the smallest of changes, which result in the biggest impact.

The power of technology has been part of our DNA since inception. We’ve leveraged our unique position in the industry, because we don’t have any legacy systems or ageing technology that isn’t serving us, to build our syndicate to be adaptive to technology, and ensure that we can collaborate and work together wherever we are in the world. We’ve been able to embrace creativity and find the balance needed to create useful solutions.