In May, I made the move from insurance executive at a global P&C insurer to the new role of chief operating officer at Snapsheet, a rapidly growing insurtech startup that pioneered virtual claims processing, workflows and settlements.
Moving from the slow-to-change insurance industry to a technology startup, whose goal is to help insurers improve their traditional workflows and processes, opened my eyes to the key differentiators between the two worlds.
We do not have time for slow and steady
For insurtech entrepreneurs, days do not begin or end, but rather consist of an ongoing dialogue about how to drive and enable change by making the insurance process simple for everyone.
It’s not just a fast-paced atmosphere in terms of work, but also in relation to change and growth. Adding nearly 100 people a quarter to any operation creates special opportunities and incentives for employees to push the envelope in a way that isn’t possible at organizations with more established protocols. Working in this high growth environment forces Snapsheet to digest change and transform key business functions several times a quarter in the drive to scale sustainably.
Continued pursuit of a better way and leading an organization to become accustomed to change trumps the fear of trying something new that exists at insurance carrier incumbents. Ultimately, embracing change and adjusting organizational, process and technology plans rapidly is essential to solving problems for our customers and partners. In addition, it creates a sense of resiliency and accomplishment across our workforce.
Legacy thinking leads to legacy technology
The technology stack currently supporting most insurance carriers is not built with scale and flexibility in mind. These packaged and home grown solutions are not designed for modern workflow needs, creating organizational inefficiency and a lack of transparency.
While working for insurance carriers, I knew our technology lagged far behind what I used in my personal life. However, I didn’t realize until I came to Snapsheet that I had been conditioned to work around the technology problem, rather than solve it.
The best insurtechs use infrastructure, software and metrics to improve overall operations and customer user experiences. When technology is embedded within an organization the right way, the ideation to implementation process will flow seamlessly without the need for a fifty-person project management team and a three-year roadmap.
An example of this approach in action is the technology and workflow changes Snapsheet implemented over a Sunday afternoon, in response to Hurricane Harvey in late August. Snapsheet created a new total flood loss workflow for carriers in affected cities that identifies and evaluates flood accidents in the event of a hurricane. Flexible technology, combined with deep expertise and a willingness to change made it possible to build a new, more efficient workflow literally overnight.
Now, this can easily be replicated in the unfortunate event of any natural disaster.
Real time operational awareness is possible
Operational metrics exist at a much more granular level because of the technology flexibility and data driven culture. Snapsheet can analyze results at the individual level in any function in the organization in minutes instead of on a monthly or quarterly basis.
Evaluating and understanding daily and monthly productivity is nearly impossible at an individual level without capturing and storing all relevant data at the employee level throughout the day. However this data retrieval and analysis requires a nimbleness that carriers running operations on legacy systems are unable to achieve.
Successful insurtechs are able to enable carriers by codifying metrics into their daily operating routines. With a team of more than 400 at Snapsheet, we are able to understand what real-time inventory exists and what outputs levels are throughout the day. This allows us to study correlations in past claims and use them to predict future claims processes, which then allows us to constantly reassess and determine whether to make continual improvement adjustments via tech solutions or operational solutions.
Embracing curiosity and being an ally
Perhaps the most powerful benefit of conducting business in an entrepreneurial environment is the openness to new ideas paired with a passion for learning. Snapsheet does not look to the past for how things have always been, but instead holds a belief that processes can always be improved. This leads our teams to continuously aim to be better and work smarter, whether it’s exploring new ways to collaborate through shared documents and video chats or streamlining workflows based on operational metrics.
But this everlasting curiosity goes beyond our internal nature. As I now find myself acting as a partner to a variety of carriers, I find that these qualities make us an ally for those organizations we serve. Our job as an insurtech should not be to disrupt an industry that has been in existence for over 100 years. Rather, with our new technology or fast-paced workflows, we are best positioned to help fill the gaps and act as a resource for the carriers who aim for innovation and seek support.