Electronic Chat with Paul VanderMarck
Laura Mazzuca Toops | June 08, 2020
Electronic Chat with Paul VanderMarck, Chief Innovation & Technology Officer, SageSure
Paul VanderMarck has been involved in insurance data and analytics for more than 25 years, most of it in a variety of roles at Risk Management Solutions Inc. (RMS), a pioneer in catastrophe risk modeling for insurers, reinsurers, and financial services firms.
In his current position as Chief Innovation & Technology Officer, he leads the technology teams at SageSure, the largest independent homeowners managing general underwriter (MGU) in the U.S. SageSure serves more than 300,000 policyholders and manages more than $500 million of insurance premiums, primarily in catastrophe-prone markets. The business operates on a proprietary technology platform that enables insurance agents to quote, bind, and service business.
You were onboard at RMS when data-driven risk analytics was new technology. What technologies were you using back then and how do they compare with what’s available today?
Technology was a very real constraint in the early days of RMS. I still have vivid memories of us rushing out to buy new computers every time Intel released a new 486 or Pentium chip, and of hoping we wouldn’t get a fire inspector visit while we had bundles of cables running down the hallways in early attempts to network those computers. We were constantly pushing the limits of what was possible. If we couldn’t get the run-time for our catastrophe models down from weeks to days, they weren’t commercially viable.
Today is almost unrecognizable by comparison. We now live in a world of abundant compute and storage capabilities that can be cost-effectively provisioned on demand and fed with near real-time imagery and other forms of streaming data from around the world. And fortunately, also one in which insurers have moved on from fax machines to email!
With all that change, the one challenge that has remained constant is for insurance leaders to grasp the potential applications of emerging technology-driven solutions and to implement them in a reasonable timeframe. Established insurers have historically achieved their success by getting very good at institutionalizing systematic ways of doing things. Changing those processes is hard, especially when they’re implemented on inflexible underlying technology. And the industry is now experiencing a faster rate of change than ever in its history.
In your previous life, you helped insurtechs raise capital. How do you anticipate the COVID-19 crisis will impact insurtech startup growth?
As with other sectors, the near-term impact will be highly varied depending on class of business and sector exposure. Established start-ups with encouraging traction who haven’t been materially affected by the current conditions will continue to raise growth rounds successfully and may even see increased investor interest among a narrowing of compelling options. There have been several recent examples of this. Earlier stage companies where investors are most fundamentally betting on the founders will have a harder time due to challenges spending quality time with investors, especially those not located near investor concentrations.
Beyond the immediate COVID-19 disruptions, this crisis has accelerated recognition among both insurance industry professionals and insurance buyers of the value of technology solutions that don’t require a live human presence. Think of companies that enable carriers and agents to conduct inspections and settle claims when in-person visits aren’t possible, to communicate efficiently with policyholders through multiple channels when traditional offices are closed, and to pay claims digitally without printing and mailing paper checks. Businesses such as these are not only seeing a near-term boost as insurers scramble to maintain operations, but will also see sustained benefits as none of these areas will ever return completely to pre-pandemic ways.
What sets SageSure apart from its competitors in the field?
We pride ourselves on our culture. We believe that talented people working shoulder-to-shoulder with a shared mission and common values are incredibly hard to beat.
As an MGU, we have always believed in building high-quality insurance products that provide policyholders and their trusted agents with differentiated, reliable coverage for their most precious assets, while also providing our carrier partners with equally reliable returns on the capacity they entrust to us.
And since day one—when SageSure was among the first in the industry to allow agents to quote and bind homeowners insurance through a browser—we have continued to invest in our proprietary technology platform and to maintain absolute control over every aspect of the quoting, binding and servicing experience for our products.
Insurtech is now about 10 years old. How do you see it evolving over the next 10 years?
I expect the technology vendor side of the insurance landscape will continue to be a vibrant area for innovation and a key external catalyst for industry change. While some of today’s emerging success stories will be swallowed up by traditional industry vendors, there will be a more diverse landscape of independent, insurance-focused technology providers than ever before.
Among insurers, there won’t be a clear distinction any longer between digital and “traditional” distribution models. All viable carriers will have an ability to transact business via an API and will have a direct-to-consumer chapter in their distribution playbook, just as we’ve seen develop in retail and other industries.
And agents and brokers will retain a higher share of business than many pundits predict, leveraging the value of their experience-driven heuristics to optimally match risk with capacity while innovating on digital customer acquisition and servicing.
What emerging tech tools do you predict will have the biggest impact on insurance?
My top two picks are AI and sensors.
AI is steadily replacing not just rote work but also increasingly higher skill work across all industries. Data entry, customer inquiry handling, image interpretation, contract language review, and numerous other activities will be handled in the future by bots and deep learning algorithms. Early adopters will gain advantages in all functional areas from underwriting to claims, improving profitability and the customer experience.
The proliferation of low-cost sensors coupled with continuously increasing connectivity is creating opportunities to introduce more tailored and dynamic insurance products, something that will challenge both insurers and regulators to adapt. Insureds will also benefit from new sensor-enabled capabilities to avoid loss and disruption, creating more value overall while narrowing the role of traditional insurance coverage.
How do you envision the business world looking after the COVID crisis has passed?
The level of public discourse during this pandemic on the challenges of decision making under uncertainty has been remarkable. The whole world has been through a crash course on simulation model sensitivities, input data uncertainties, ensembles of potential outcomes and counterfactual analysis.
The insurance industry is more experienced than any other at managing risk, and many of the advances in the industry in recent decades are rooted in the adoption of more sophisticated approaches to assessing and making decisions about risk.
An inevitable, and enormously positive, outcome of the COVID crisis will be an elevation in the quality of risk-based decision across both the public and private sectors, something which all of us in the insurance industry should make a particular effort to support and encourage.
# # #
- Digitalization, COVID-19 Spurring More IT Investment in Cybersecurity
- Electronic Chat with Michael DeGusta, CEO, ClarionDoor
- U.S. Consumers Significantly Underestimate Flood Risk, New Survey Finds
- The Future of Insurance: Opportunities in Ecosystems
- Electronic Chat with Todd Greenbaum, CEO, Input 1
- Majesco to be Acquired by Thoma Bravo
- The Evolving Role of Managing General Agencies
- Electronic Chat with Char Hu
- Electronic Chat with Allan L. Egbert, Jr.
- Electronic Chat with Christopher Tramontano and Zbigniew Gawienczuk
- Data Science is Gelato
- Insurance Innovation: Alive and Kicking
- Independent Agents Divided on Digital Experience, New Survey Finds
- Electronic Chat with Michael Jones
- Electronic Chat with Paul VanderMarck
- As Auto Insurance Premiums Shrink, Insurers Need Mobility Ecosystem, New Study Finds
- Property & Casualty Insurers Raise Digital Games as COVID-19 Elevates Customer Expectations, J.D. Power Finds
- Electronic Chat with Bobbie Shrivastav
- Meet the Board: Marissa Buckley
- Big Data and Insurtech: A Carrier Perspective
- Traditional Insurers Need Open Ecosystems, Partnerships to Remain Competitive, CapGemini Report Finds
- Electronic Chat with John C. Siegman
- 4 Ways AI is Empowering Insurers During COVID-19
- 6 Big Changes to Insurance from the COVID-19 Crisis
- Electronic Chat with Christopher Ewing
- Independent Agency Staff Morale High During COVID-19, New Survey Finds
- Electronic Chat with Brad Epker
- Tapping AI to Improve Policyholder Experience
- Electronic Chat with Manisha Bhargava
- ITA Pro Magazine, March/April 2020
- COVID-19 a Game Changer for Workers’ Comp
- Electronic Chat with Steve Comer
- COVID-19 Pandemic Forces Cancellation of ITA LIVE 2020
- Leveraging Digital Resources in the Time of COVID-19
- Electronic Chat with Robert Hartwig on COVID-19 and Insurance
- Celent Study: Most Small Businesses Still Unclear on Importance of Cyber Insurance
- The January/February 2020 ITA Pro is here!
- Deloitte: New C-Suite Roles Mean More Opportunities for Women
- Electronic Chat with Pankaj Parashar
- Electronic Chat with Tara Kelly
- Electronic Chat with Chuck Wilson
- ITA, InsNerds Collaborate to Enhance ITA LIVE 2020 Content and Coverage
- How SMBs Can Compete in Digital Ecosystems in the 2020s
- 4 Ways Insurance Can Prepare for New Data Privacy Laws
- Brewer Lane Ventures Launches and Hires Insurtech Vet Martha Notaras as Managing Partner
- 2020 GIA Cohort Launches on January 14
- The November/December 2019 ITA Pro is here!
- Electronic Chat with Joshua Snead
- Electronic Chat with Wendy Aarons-Corman
- Simplifying the Move to a Third-party Print Provider
- Take a Business-Driven Approach to Continuous Improvement for Core Systems and Processes
- Electronic Chat with Ron Glozman
- Guidewire’s Data Guru Mike Byam on How Insurers are Using Internal and Third-Party Data
- Electronic Chat with Russ Bostick
- Electronic Chat with Rock Schindler
- Electronic Chat with John Siegman
- Electronic Chat with Martin Burlingame
- Insurtech Landscape 2019: Top 5 Takeaways
- Grinnell Mutual Tackles Massive Transformation -- in Stride
- A Candid Conversation with Paul Mang
- SageSure Insurance Managers Improved Competitiveness by Consolidating Payments to a Single Digital Platform
- Digital Does Matter in Insurance-- And Insurers are Missing the Mark
- The 22nd-Century Insurer: Taking a Cloud-First IT Approach
- The September/October 2019 issue of ITA PRO magazine is now available in digital format here:
- ITA Pro Magazine May/June 2019
- Spotlight on the 2019 IASA Conference
- ValueMomentum Selects Erie as Site of Regional Development Center
- Capgemini and Majesco Become Alliance Partners
- Electronic Chat with Dr. Dan Shoham
- Electronic Chat with Todd Greenbaum
- Martha Notaras: The “Outsider” with an Amazing Inside View
- Electronic Chat with Larissa Tosch
- Martha Notaras Will Join ITA LIVE 2019 as a Keynote Speaker
- Five Things to Consider When Evaluating Your Cyber Risk
- ITA Pro Magazine, January/February 2019
- Synergy Between Insurers' IT and Analytics Teams Key to Operationalizing Insights, Says Novarica
- Major Ransomware Attack Could Hit U.S. with $89B In Economic Damages
- ITA Announces 1st of Three Keynote Speakers at ITA LIVE 2019
- Electronic Chat with Jeroen Morrenhof
- Legacy Systems Are Dead. Really? Don't Count On It.
- Now Accepting Nominations for the 2019 ITA Bridge Awards
- It's time to register for ITA LIVE!
- Registration is Now Open for ITA LIVE 2019!
- What to Expect from a Digital Experience Platform Implementation
- ITA Pro Magazine September Edition is Now Available
- It's National IT Professionals Day
- Save the Date for ITA-LIVE 2019
- OneShield Software and UrbanStat Work Together to Improve Real-Time Analytics and Risk Decision-Making
- ITA LIVE 2019 - SAVE THE DATE!
- Insurance Technology Association Announces New Editor-in-Chief
- August 2018 Edition ITA Pro Magazine is Now Available
- Enterprise Architecture in an Agile World
- Top 10 Tips for Securing Your Mobile Devices and Sensitive Client Data
- Industry Insight: 4 Global Insurance Trends in Digital, Data, Content Services and Security
- Diving Deeper into Prioritizing Your Strategic Digital investments
- Why Content Rules
- How Mass Personalization Will Open the Small Business Benefits Market
- At Year End 2017, Will Your Organization Be Protected from Cyber Risks?
- Do Insurance Bots Dream of Mitigating Risk?
- Conditioned to Respond
- Managing & Mobilizing Insurance Data in a Connected World
- Race to the Finish Line
- New Tools, New Opportunities in Claims
- ITA LIVE: Reaching Insurance Industry Crossroads
- Advice to Insurance IT Leaders: Keep Your Eye on the Ball
- New Date, Venue for ITA LIVE 2017
- Guidewire Makes Major Push to Small and Midtier Market by Acquiring ISCS
- Insurance Disruption is Happening Right Now
- Insurity Adds Strategic Investment Partner, General Atlantic
- Beyond Transformation: The Convergence of Finance, Risk, and Actuarial Functions
- The Rapid Evolution of Consumer Protection Regulation
- Talent Hunt: Finding, Attracting, Retaining Top People
- Insurers Flexing Their Distribution Models
- Technology Driving Disruption in Insurance
- Fear of ‘Next Bubble’ Challenges Life, Annuity Carriers
- Technology Allows Commercial Lines Insurers to Stand Out
- Single Sign-on Viewed as Biggest Tech Challenge for Agencies
- ISCS Observes 20th Anniversary; Scurto Predicts Major Changes Ahead
- Policyholders and Their First Impressions
- Progressive Making Progress on the UBI Front
- High and Dry: Insurers Search for Disaster Recovery Plans
- Insurers Sign The (Un)Dotted Line
- Reflections of a Retired Insurance CIO
- Mobile Device Management Just One Answer to BYOD Issue
- Lessons from GEICO and Progressive on Winning the Critical Buying Stage
- You Are a Target for a Cyber Attack
- Web-based Systems are the Next Evolution in Claims Technology
- Gaining a “Wow” Experience from Web Users
- Time to Shift from Business/IT Alignment to Business/IT Alliance
- Healthcare Insurers Changing to Consumer Model
- Organization is the Key for Selecting Software Vendors
- Analysts Expound on the Needs of the Mid-tier Insurance Market
- Finding the Cure for Obamacare’s Website
- New Software Solutions Benefit Insurers on the Inside and Outside
- Products, Market Impede Investment in Systems for Life Insurers
- Combatting Cyber Threats: Predict, Prevent, Persist
- The Future of Telematics Heads Beyond Insurance
- The Shame in Cyber Security Lapses
- Building Policy Administration Systems for the Future
- Insurers Look Into The Eyes of Their Policyholders
- It’s a New Dawn for the ITA
INSURANCE IT NEWS
- IAT Insurance Group Selects One Inc for Digital Claims Payments
- Majesco Implements Oracle Cloud HCM
- Ohio Mutual Insurance Group Partners with Centric Consulting to Develop New Mobile App
- Acrisure Acquires Tulco’s Artificial Intelligence Insurance Business
- Wolverine Mutual Insurance Company Goes Live on the BindExpress Suite from SpeedBuilder Systems
- IMS Extends Telematics SDK Partnership with Onlia
- Risk Placement Services Implements Instec Policy System for Public Entity Program
- Protective Insurance Selects Majesco for Commercial Auto, Workers' Comp
The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.
ITA LIVE 2020
ITA LIVE 2020 –SAVE THE DATE!
April 5th – 7th, 2020
The Diplomat Resort
Become a member today to receive updates – www.itapro.org/MR
BLOGS AND COLUMNS
Denise Garth of Majesco examines how insurance can tap into the synergy between companies and customers that helps meet the needs of all participants... READ MORE
Today's MGAs, fueled by changing technologies, must follow a “jack-of-all-trades” mindset by wearing many hats and leveraging multiple competencies... READ MORE
You have surely heard it said that small businesses are the growth engine for America. Today, the phrase has a special ring to it for benefits... READ MORE
With stagnant growth and lingering low interest rates, the life insurance industry faces a challenging future... READ MORE
Finding insurance carriers willing to write commercial lines risks has always been a challenge for producers... READ MORE
As Guidewire Software prepares for the start of Connections, its 11th annual user conference that begins on Nov. 2, Brian Desmond, chief marketing... READ MORE