Why reinvent what already exists?

Insurers need to stop creating digital solutions; it’s hurting consumers. #insurtech #customercentric

Last weekend saw us all perform a minor miracle of engineering prowess. It’s a task that happens biannually, where mostly novice engineers, across the country, all set to work on the same day.

The task ahead is fraught with difficulty

A critical update is required for the affected systems to function, but the number of systems that need to be updated is unknown. The process for updating each device is also largely unknown and certainly not documented. Despite the regularity of the task ahead, most engineers aren’t sure if the update they need to apply is positive or negative. Given the above, the effort required is disproportionately high and the error rate is typically high with at least one device neglected for a period that can extend into months… especially the one in your car.

Atomic Clock; the most precise device ever made — courtesy of WIRED

I’m talking about the dreaded changing of the clocks. They went back in the early hours of Sunday morning, leading to the start of that 6–monthly chore we all endure. While we increasingly benefit from the automatic updates our smart phones and connected devices offer, we still check them against the trusted wind up alarm clock on the bedside table, to know which time is the correct one.

It made me think of the way we use time across websites and in our businesses. Imagine if each system we used or each customer facing asset had to be updated with the correct time in the same way. We’d have teams of engineers frantically scrambling round our businesses, or perched next to servers at 01:59.

Of course we don’t maintain all that stuff ourselves.

We use Universal Standard Time and a reliable source to consume the accurate time and keep our systems working as they should.

The work which goes into preserving this centralised accuracy is huge; fantastically complex atomic clocks count time in unfathomable fractions of nanoseconds. The sophisticated, expensive equipment is built and maintained by experts in their respective fields of science and engineering. Such expert knowledge is scarce and costly.

It draws parallels to the frustration I feel when trying to market Claim Technology, an insurtech company that is helping the insurance industry to digitise operations. The premise is to have best of breed third party tech, on a platform that tech buyers can use as a marketplace. This way they automate much of the heavy lifting that goes into processing a customer interaction and focus efforts where they’re needed (or relevant!).

Too many insurers build their own apps.

It makes no sense. And it’s probably why insurtech lags so far behind fintech in terms of adoption. Customer expectation has been radically advanced due to innovation by neobanks like Revolut, Monzo and Starling; to name the UK’s leaders in the space. Yet insurers still massively underdeliver in their core promise to their customers.

When it comes to making an insurance claim, the claimant may be vulnerable or in distress, but there is little consideration given to how the person wants to interact. The complex legacy infrastructure and processes of big insurance companies mean you have to do it how they say, when they say. And you better be ready with the info they want, or you’ll have to start again.

Those smart guys have done it

They’ve already identified how to bring insurance into the modern world.

They’ve poured tons of effort and resources into building solutions which make the whole insurance claim experience better. They’ve already brought technology to market which enables the experience to be much more customer-centric. Yet technology teams and innovation labs are springing up inside large incumbent organisations, tasked with reinventing what already exists and is proven in market.

So we’ve set the clocks back an hour. Let’s spring our attitude to building tech forward a few decades and start consuming what’s already there, so customers can use it. Think Github for insurance!



An opinionated marketer, specialising in digital transformation in the finance and insurance industries.

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Chris Jones

An opinionated marketer, specialising in digital transformation in the finance and insurance industries.