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InsurTech Ohio Rising with Slalom

Chris Mazzocco is the Client Services Director of Financial Services and Insurance for Ohio at Slalom, a next-generation professional services company creating value at the intersection of business, technology and humanity. Chris was interviewed by Andrew Daniels, Co-Founder and President at CrashBay and Founder and Managing Director at InsurTech Ohio.





Chris, what areas has Slalom been focused on most recently, and what trends are you seeing across the insurance industry?


“Insurers are looking for more flexibility and speed to market. They're finding this requires an organizational shift to a product mindset and new product operating model. This is where we can help. Further, as carriers get into more agile ways of working, they’re investing in a modern cloud-based AI-native core, leveraging insurtech solutions, that considerably reduce time to market and adds flexibility.


This brings up another trend, which is a renewed journey to the cloud, especially as a lot of P&C carriers are realizing the value of their data. Harnessing the quality and mass quantity of data is a competitive advantage, especially with the rise of LLMs. On the Life side, we are seeing a lot of mainframe modernization projects along with continued investment in customer experience digitization.


Along the insurance value chain, the highest concentration of investments are in underwriting capabilities - standardizing models and leveraging emerging technologies like telematics and computer vision for more real-time underwriting and enhanced fleet management. 


Finally, the focus on expense ratio is not going away. Inflationary pressures are not going away. We are helping many insurers leverage AI to become more efficient in their operations and accurate in their models. Companies who do this well are simultaneously creating better experiences, aggressively designing more loveable customer journeys and colleague job duties.”


Can you talk, specifically, about some engagements where you've helped clients realize gains?


“One of our most interesting recent client stories is with a top 20 U.S. insurance company that was looking to digitize their policy admin and underwriting systems for their specialty commercial excess and surplus lines to provide future speed to market and flexibility. We're essentially helping them stand up a new company with new products on a brand new policy administration, underwriting and claims platform. Instead of converting policies from legacy to modern systems at renewal, the client will issue the new products to the customers, a simpler conversion approach. Slalom is helping drive the business requirements, user experience and architecture design for the new platform. Once fully implemented, the platform will allow the carrier to more quickly process complex commercial risks, drive down operational costs and provide a consistent experience for brokers and insureds in their interaction with the carrier. 


Here in Ohio, we are helping a carrier implement a cloud-native data platform, and we're integrating telematics data for better analytics for use cases across the insurance value chain. In another line of business, we're providing product strategy to standardize, modernize and automate their policy admin and underwriting processes. The client is in the midst of shifting to a new product and agile operating model, so we're helping accelerate two transformations at once by doing hands-on product ownership work while coaching the client through their operating model changes at the same time.”


How have you helped insurtechs and carriers work better together?


“This is one of the fun parts of being at Slalom and having clients ranging from large carriers to brokers to insurtechs and startups. We have a unique place in the ecosystem. We work with insurtechs and carriers in a couple ways. 


The first is partnering to accelerate implementations of an insurtech platform at a carrier, broker or large agency. We bring people that have relevant insurance industry expertise that can help with the overall implementation management, product ownership, quality assurance and data integrations. These integrations - oftentimes CRMs, backend customer databases and analytics platforms - are vendor platforms that Slalom has tight alliance relationships with. In short, we help accelerate while de-risking insurtech implementations.


The second way we work with insurtechs is through our Ventures organization, which scouts Series A venture-backed startups that we see as the next generation of enabling tech across all industries. The way it works is we take them through a market validation program, so the insurtech gets an advisor who will get them in front of clients and effectively test the market in a fast way. Some of our most successful ventures recently have been in insurance, including an AI-powered data security platform that helps carriers ensure maximum data utilization and monetization with minimum risk. Another is a data collaboration platform between retailers and financial services businesses. Acquiring this previously unknown customer behavior data is allowing insurance companies to make more profitable and inclusive underwriting decisions.


On the carrier side, our Ventures team will partner with the corporate VC groups. We'll compare portfolios and help de-risk their investments if they're investing in similar organizations that we're working with. Then, we can help them implement these new technologies.”


What do you see as your priority area over the next 12 months, and what should we be on the lookout for in the industry?


“I'm starting to hear more and more talk in the industry about humans and investing in enabling humans, which is exciting. Most of our clients are gearing up for customer service transformations with AI, which hits the bullseye of enabling better experiences while also helping with the expense ratio. There also seems to be a trending focus on the advisor. We're hearing this from both carriers and insurtechs. They’re trying new selling motions and emphasizing ease of doing business for the advisors. Finally, companies are learning how humans and AI can work together for use cases across marketing, wholesaling, underwriting, claims, service, legal, etc. It’s a significant change management undertaking to redesign the process and get people comfortable working alongside AI.


On the technology side, we'll continue seeing a shift toward packaged solutions with embedded AI to provide flexibility, speed to market and better experiences. This is where insurtechs often come into the picture. 


Claim severity is going to continue to increase. It's an unfortunate reality. We're helping carriers that are investing a lot in risk management and mitigation solutions. One interesting realization that I think they're going to come to is that they can't all do it alone. We're going to see more collaborative data sets among carriers, brokers, governments, corporations and scientific entities that can raise the tide for everybody and positively affect society's ability to identify, avoid and effectively price risk.”




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