Tokio Marine Kiln head of innovation Tom Hoad on creativity in insurance

thomas hoad edited

Tom Hoad was appointed head of innovation at Tokio Marine Kiln (TMK) last November in a move aimed at crystallising the Lloyd’s insurer’s focus on innovation. 

He oversees the underwriting of emerging risks and is responsible for developing new channels of distribution as well as innovative products. 

Last month, the insurer launched TMK One, a web-based platform for brokers to access specialist business lines. 

Insurance Times spoke to Hoad about innovative challenges and successes. 

How do you nurture innovation?

In our environment, we got unbelievable intellectual capacity as underwriters in particular. You just need to liberate time in the day for them to innovate. I don’t like the idea that certain kinds of individuals are innovative, and others are not, because I don’t believe that. 

The greatest resource that any company has got, is not the capital behind it, it is the people. Innovation is about allowing people time to concentrate on what is important and not just on what is urgent. Sometimes it is important to do things that are slightly more creative and reflect on how things change over time.  

What is the biggest challenge with innovation?

One of the biggest challenges is winning people over to enter into an environment where they can drop some of the urgency and focus on what I think will be important with regards to innovation. 

There are other challenges that come up along the way as well, but I do think that one of the best ways to fence that is to surround yourself with problem solvers.

There tends to be a type of person that is very good at thinking around issues, who is resourceful in terms of how they approach problems and not just see them in a linear fashion. 

Challenges include getting the time to innovate and being able to solve problems as they come along as there are inevitably going to be problems with innovation.  

What has been the highlights of your time as head of innovation?

The most obvious one is the launch of our digital exchange platform, One TMK. That gives us a platform from which we can do all sorts of innovative things. There is the success of its implementation, but it is also the iteration of what that might look like over the years to come.

Operating in an environment where we use technology to innovate is really quite an exciting proposition. Not just for us, but for all insurers.