‘Substantial benefits’ from working at home
An increase in work-from-home and greater use of technology are among major changes set to shift the way the insurance world will work in the post Covid-19 world, the chief underwriter at an insurance technology firm has predicted.
Ari Chatterjee, of Envelop Risk, said: “There are substantial benefits in a flexible work-from-home culture where you are allocated tasks with deadlines, but not policed on how you are executing such tasks as long as deadlines and quality standards are met.
“We are happy to see the industry as a whole is moving in this direction. We expect the expense ratios of the insurers, especially real estate and travel expenses, being reduced over a longer period of time as work-from-home becomes more acceptable.”
He was speaking after the insurtech company secured an additional $6 million of funding, which it said will speed up its investment in machine learning and data-driven underwriting activity in London and Bermuda.
The island is the company's underwriting centre, with a team of three, and staff levels are expected to increase to five by the end of the year.
Mr Chatterjee said: “We are close to 20 employees globally. We have a unique team profile where all our underwriters are deeply embedded with technology development work.
“Hence, most of our teams have a technical background and they enjoy a highly creative work environment while managing a substantial portfolio.
“Bermudians who have a technology background with a good business acumen or went overseas to study in top technical universities would be a great fit for our team.”
Including the new round of funding, Envelop Risk has raised $10 million of capital since it was formed two years ago.
Mr Chatterjee said: “We have incoming revenues to support our current operations, although the funding will enable our growth in new product lines and scale-up operations.
“We are excited to have Alpha Intelligence Capital as our lead investor. They have the wealth of knowledge and specialised expertise to support artificial intelligence-focused start-ups.”
Jonathan Spry, the chief executive of Envelop Risk, said: “We are thrilled to have received the support of AIC, a recognised leader in AI investment, and are pleased to become their first major insurtech investment.”
Other investors in the UK-headquartered company include MS Amlin and Dymon Asia Ventures.
Brian O'Hara, a former CEO of insurance and reinsurance giant XL Capital and a director of Envelop Risk, congratulated the company for its “continued success in the cyber reinsurance market”.
Mr O'Hara said he liked the team's balance of reinsurance experts and technologists.
Mr Chatterjee said the Covid-19 pandemic and the disruption it caused to businesses had created interesting trends in cyber insurance
He explained: “Work-from-home regulations have increased the attack surface area for the bad guys and the digital corporate assets are no longer protected by a firewall.
“More reliance on cloud means chances of disruption are larger. The bad guys have taken advantage of the situation and we have seen unprecedented volumes of spam e-mails.
“Hence, the risk has definitely gone higher in short term, although, with business revenues being reduced, the severity of business interruption loss has reduced as well.”
Mr Chatterjee said digitisation efforts had been accelerated.
He added: “There will be tectonic shifts in the corporate landscape towards technology and several of the incumbents across industry sectors will perish paving the way for new start-up.
“This trend is hugely positive for cyberinsurance and the legacy systems built in past decades will be replaced by better systems.
“The cyber insurance industry is expected to witness an unprecedented growth over the next three to five years.”
Envelop has coped with the changes caused by the pandemic, with minimal disruptions due to lockdown restrictions, but Mr Chatterjee suffered personal tragedy when he could not attend his mother-in-law's funeral.
The Envelop team was already working from home at least two days each week before the Covid-19 lockdown started.
Mr Chatterjee said Envelop's long-term vision for the reinsurance industry was different from how the industry operated at present.
He explained: “Reinsurance has been long believed to be a relationship-driven business. While parts of that are true, we have seen that reinsurers have experienced several years of poor performance while adhering to that approach.
“Much of this is attributed to limited product and service differentiation, which leads to price competition.
“The original proposition of reinsurance was very different — reinsurers were relied upon by the insurers for their product expertise.
“Instead, today, reinsurer meetings are focused on pricing and capacity — we somehow forgot the core proposition of reinsurance.
“Hence at Envelop we focus on helping our clients, the insurers, to improve their underwriting strategies, pricing and product development, backed by our proprietary data and modelling, in addition to bringing them one of the largest capacity in the market today.”