’Brokers are a real distribution engine, they maintain and improve relationships with the SME commercial consumers,’ Open GI’s chief product officer tells Insurance Times following this year’s eTrading survey results 

When Open GI onboarded its very first customer – Greenlight Insurance Services – on Mobius in June 2022, the system was aimed at MGA, brokers and insurers in general insurance (GI) and likened to a box-to-box midfielder.

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This was because Mobius – its cloud hosted broking platform – had end-to-end capability and could do everything from claims management to customer self-service.

Fast forward to 2023 and Open GI has retained its position in third place, with a score of 3.19 out of five, in Insurance Times’ eTrading 2023 report.

Now, the insurance software firm has some major plans in the works around machine learning and insurer hosted pricing platforms (IHPP).

Speaking exclusively to Insurance Times about the firm’s steadfast survey position, Open GI chief product officer Ben Legg says: “[Our result] does show a sign of consistency, which is positive.

“[But] it also highlights some real challenges in this space – the eTrade SME commercial space – it’s quite competitive.”

He admits that the insurance industry “isn’t fully digitised yet”.

The top three broker management system (BMS) outcomes OpenGI achieved in the report were efficiency, streamlined business process and increased competitiveness.

“This is what we see from our customers, not just in commercial [lines] but generally. Across our customers there is an underlying cost challenge that is being faced by the intermediated broker segments of the market,” explains Legg.

This cost challenge is coming from structural changes to the market, such as regulation and new insurtech or digital focused entrants to the sector that are focusing on cost efficiency.

He continues: “They are looking at ways they can reduce that footprint, especially those large call centre-based businesses. It’s only going to encourage people to look to technology to solve these problems.”

Digital and self-serve solutions reduce the volume of queries coming into call centres, freeing up operators for more complex tasks.

Move towards digital 

“There’s going to be a move towards ’how do we use digital channels?’, especially in the eTraded space,” explains Legg.

However, he adds: “The second area where change needs to occur is this inefficient exchange of data.”

Legg says extranets are a good example of where this data exchange could be improved, as they represent another place where staff must key in data and “rekeying is a risk for our customers”.

“There’s definitely opportunity to improve that data exchange because it reduces the likelihood of errors,” he adds.

For Legg, however, there’s an education process in how to go about changing mindset. Open GI utilises a methodology known as systems thinking, which examines ways of improving how it works with customers.

Open GI_Ben Legg

Ben Legg, Open GI chief product officer 

“We have created a significant number of improvements that our customers are almost not able to keep up with us – a great position to be in. We have seen good improvement around customer satisfaction,” he adds.

The firm also allows customers to tap into their own data, which Legg refers to as “creating virtual circles”. 

Propensity of claim 

For its commercial customers, OpenGI operates an integrated IHPP to complement its market panel with a range of insurers and MGAs – it will be adding new panel members this year, according to Legg.

The firm has also launched its machine learning programme (MLP) business, called MLP Score, which is a data enrichment solution that looks at customers’ propensity to make a claim and is currently focusing on private car insurance.

“We are looking at how we can bring that into other markets like commercial lines, [it] allows our customers to use our propensity of claim score to adjust their pricing in the moment of quoting,” says Legg. 

”It considers risk capture but also many other data points, such as traffic in the areas, MOT’s, crime statistics and lost of other demographic and topographic information.”

He notes, however, that while this specific product is new, investigating the propensity to claim for customers is not new for Open GI.

Through its MLP business, the firm will also be launching an optimum pricing system in the coming months.

“In an aggregated world it’s important to be near the top of the aggregator, so it helps our customers to get the right price,” says Legg.

“We are looking at bringing that into the more eTraded lines of business – commercial, and motor for example.” 

More work to do 

In terms of overall product complexity, brokers responding to the Insurance Times 2023 eTrading Survey indicated that it was evident that there was more work to do on improving this area.

Legg said: “It’s a difficult challenge. While everyone recognises the benefits of eTrading – the reduction of risk and speed it brings – it also creates standardisation, which isn’t ideal.”

The way Open GI tackles this standardisation is by using a “highly flexible platform” that allows brokers to bring question sets to life.

“Through our IHPP, our customers can create their own schemes, which helps MGAs and insurers create their product,” explains Legg.

”But specifically tackling product complexity is not something that we would do. If you go into a new product line that was non-standard and non-eTraded while we might help with question mapping, it’s down to the insurers themselves to tackle the complexity of the product itself.”

Over the next three to five years, Legg believes that BMSs will become the “most dominant” force, overtaking extranets – this is a thought supported by the responents to the eTrading report, which revealed 33% preference for BMSs and only 11% for extranets. 

“That panel is ultimately the direction that industry will end up going, why? Panel offers them the most comprehensive pricing to their customer.

”It increases insurer competition, which will help with premiums, it’s improved efficiency in the industry. A broker will enter a risk capture once and that can be used across many different panel members to create the most competitive price,” he adds. 

For Legg, the popularity of a BMS is all about transparency. 

“Brokers are a real distribution engine, they maintain and improve relationships with the SME commercial consumers. Insurers need to be as open as possible and provide access to the broking community,” he concludes.