Insurance Times speaks to Jeffrey Skelton, managing director UK and Ireland, at LexisNexis Risk Solutions about the firm’s priorities for the year ahead

Jeffrey Skelton MD UK  Ireland InsuranceLexisNexis Risk Solutions

 What are your priorities right now and going into 2020?

First and foremost I want to further cement our position in the market as a trusted steward of data and a leading provider of insurance specific solutions.

We already partner with a large portion of the UK motor insurance market and have built a strong suite of solutions over the past couple of years for all lines of business – motor, home and commercial.

Our focus is to grow market and product penetration as well as solve our customers’ challenges - part of this will be looking at how we can develop greater insights around claims, which is new for us in the UK, as well as building the sector’s first vehicle build score.

Data is only good if it brings value. Our role is to find insights from the increasing volumes of industry contributed and external data that will help insurance providers make more informed decisions. It’s a role that is growing in importance given the transformational impact of data on this sector.

For example, policy history data can now provide valuable insights around the risk of motor cancellation, shopping behaviour can help determine the risk of named driver fraud. We’re even using data on trees for the whole of the UK to help model for subsidence risk. A richer understanding of prior claims will help advance the understanding of risk further still.

2020 will also see us move into new, state-of-the-art offices as part of the regeneration of Nottingham City Centre next summer. This will create some fantastic new employment opportunities in the local area.

Do you think the UK insurance market is really embracing digitisation? What are the barriers?

Talking to insurance providers, the drive for digitisation is a common theme and while I believe it is being embraced, the hindrance is often legacy systems, which can make change difficult. Some sectors of the market are more digitised than others – motor insurance, for example, has become highly automated and ultimately we could see quite a change in the question set as we learn more about the car and the driver through data collected directly from the car.

The home sector still has room for growth in the application process and rating factors that examine more closely the occupants and prior losses. 

We’re also seeing an appetite for increasing digitisation in commercial too, which has largely been a manual line of business. In fact, we are developing solutions to support commercial property underwriting, allowing insurance providers to more fully understand risks at point of quote, bringing a greater level of automation to the process.

You joined LexisNexis Risk Solutions on 1 July 2019 from the US business; how are you settling in and how does the UK insurance market compare to the US?

Aside from some amusing cultural and language differences - pants are trousers apparently! -  I am settling in very well and enjoying life in the UK.

There has been a lot to learn, many employees and customers to meet and much time spent focusing on our plans for 2020.

The fundamentals of the insurance business are the same in both markets. Insurers need to find customers, properly price them, onboard them, manage the relationship, pay claims and renew the policy.

All these touch points require decisions that could be made better through the use of data. LexisNexis’s business is to supply the data that enables our insurance customers to meet the needs of consumers.

I do believe that the UK motor market is probably more advanced in its use of data and more nimble, whereas the US motor insurance market is challenged by the fact that there are over 50 regulators, so this makes any pricing or policy changes a major task. Both countries have competitive markets, which is good for consumers.

Ultimately we want to maintain the company’s position as a trusted advisor and data analytics provider of choice.


How do you see data and technology transforming the insurance market – are some lines of business going to change quicker than others?

The insurance market as a whole is in the midst of substantial change, driven predominantly by regulation and consumer needs. Insurtechs are looking for ways to bridge the divide between emerging consumer demands and the framework of the insurance industry. This is not an easy task. The economy is shifting insurance products slowly toward managing new types of risk. Smart phones have enabled a micro-insurance market for mobility and commercial use of personal assets. Insurance companies can do more for consumers by protecting them for more than traditional risks.

An emerging area to watch is the automobile sector. We are on the cusp, in the motor insurance market, of cars connecting directly with insurance companies. With the rise of the connected car, insurance companies will be empowered to offer new products tailored to the needs of their customers. It will need insurance providers and car manufacturers to come together to share data to better serve their common customer – a process we are very much helping to facilitate.

Connectivity in cars, homes and buildings is set to play a part in insurance products of the future – what role do you see LexisNexis Risk Solutions playing in this?

We are already well on the way with the connected car. Not only will insurers offer new products, but will be better able to price risks and manage claims. By linking data on the vehicle build, including advanced driver-assistance system (ADAS) features to real life insurance claims, we can understand what features have the most impact on reducing collisions.

This will make it possible to educate and reward consumers for the safety features in their vehicle as well as how well they drive that vehicle.

For home and buildings, the internet of things (IoT) has the potential to change the market dramatically, but that change is occurring more slowly than some predicted. Smart home tech is still expensive and consumers are generally investing in gadgets which will increase convenience, rather than for an insurance benefit.

It might take a leap of faith by insurance providers to encourage adoption so that we can build a greater understanding of the impact of smart home tech on risk.

Coming back to my point earlier, there’s no shortage of data - the skill is in asking the right questions from that data to draw the insights the industry needs to better assess risk.