Data Dials Up for Brokers

Data is becoming the catalyst for smarter, faster ways of doing business. From submitting quotes early in the game to clinching business deals with insight and speed, data is helping brokers and carriers better serve and build a loyal client base. The broker/underwriter relationship is an important part of this equation.
 
As underwriters have increasing amounts of data at their fingertips, they’re able to pinpoint the risks they’d like to cover in partnership with brokers much more specifically. For brokers, this could mean a more successful, tailored product for clients.
 
Before the data revolution, brokers relied on their inside knowledge to select the right carrier for a proposal. Today, underwriters inform brokers directly of their interest in specific transactions.
 
“We have predictive models and that information is relayed to our underwriters. Our underwriters know which opportunities are available to them and can take the further step to understand which one of those is most likely to be quoted and won,” says Matt Foran, vice president of alternative distribution, Middle & Large Commercial, at The Hartford. “We provide our underwriters with the additional detail they need to see to fully commit to pursuing the deal. It’s to the point now where The Hartford’s underwriters are able to look at opportunities that are coming in the future to say, ‘I want that exact submission. I want a shot at that specific deal.’”
 
Data-sharing aligns insured, broker and carrier interests in a positive way, Foran adds. It allows the carrier to engage with the broker more effectively. “When we’re asking for something, there’s great confidence we’re asking for opportunities in which we know we’ll be a good partner.”
 
Data-driven synergies between brokers and carriers are not only increasing the potential for new business but also reducing the timeline for processing information. The Hartford takes static documents and runs them through optical character recognition, natural language processing, data validation techniques and third-party data hydration. Foran points out that all of these steps allow the insurer to pull information from various data sources – all within a single email – and add it to the system data. It saves them time and spares them a significant administrative burden.
 
Foran says The Hartford has taken that processing time from five or six days in some places down to less than 10 minutes.
 
“We can tell very quickly if we have everything we need and that we’re going to be a good carrier for that opportunity,” he said. And, this helps brokers have more effective conversations with their clients, which helps to build trust and loyalty. “We help brokers become more consultative in this space. I think this is where the industry is going to go in the next five years.”
 

Claims Insights

Claims are another area in which brokers could benefit from carrier data. Through claims data that is captured, data scientists are able to develop insights across the different categories of business.
 
For example, data can allow a broker to tell a client, “For a firm like yours, your three greatest risks are X, Y and Z.”
 
When losses cannot be avoided, data is materially improving injury recovery. “Our data can show it will take an average of 70 days to get an employee back to work. We can tell a client what it will cost them and us, and what that will mean for their overall project,” says Foran. “If a claim occurs, the data provides specifics on the care necessary for that person to return to work, taking into account the treatment of the injury, any psychosomatic requirement and/or ongoing treatment post emergency room care.”
 
One data discovery that The Hartford made helped reverse an undesirable outcome. The information revealed that certain age groups weren’t following up with medical treatment after emergency room visits – simply because they didn’t have cars.
 
“We found that we could help get them to their treatment by providing alternative transportation,” says Foran. “Getting them to the doctor helped them to recover faster. It was better for their employer, for us and for them. We did that through data.”
 

Sensor Data

Data – and the growing use of sensors to collect it – is also changing how to deal with risk, Foran says. This includes using sensors to collect data on changing behaviors, like monitoring consistent hard braking while driving. It also includes using sensors to help monitor activity on properties.
 
Water sensors are of great value in the commercial insurance area, notably in low occupancy buildings like churches, which aren’t typically occupied 24 hours a day. If a pipe breaks, it could be hours or even days before anyone realizes the building is flooded and items inside destroyed. A sensor on the water input can send an alert that water is leaking, and it costs as little as six cents a month.
 
“You attach it to the pipe and walk away,” explains Foran. “It can tell us if the pipe breaks. It means the customer’s valuables don’t get destroyed by mold and the response time is faster.”
 
Wearables also provide useful data that can help reduce injuries. For a high-rise construction company, for instance, there’s always the potential for employees to be injured. Monitoring wearable data can help advise if they’re in an area where they don’t belong or if they’re currently at risk for a certain type of injury.
 
In fact, The Hartford has an IoT (Internet of Things) lab that focuses on using sensors and data from sensors to predict and prevent losses before they happen or detect and mitigate losses more quickly, says Foran. “The lab works in close partnership with brokers and risk engineering consultants to deploy sensors and monitoring solutions to at-risk customers to help them avoid injuries, business interruptions and unnecessary expenses.
 
“All of this happens in coordination with brokers. Brokers really benefit from the onset, we’re arming them with insights and methods to better serve their clients. The coordination benefits everybody.”
 
Data is obviously no substitute for the responsiveness, ethics and cost factors that have traditionally reinforced partnerships between carriers, brokers and their clients. But it is a viable and valuable tool that can detect risks, suggest opportunities, relieve burden and build trust. The rest is up to the people who stand behind it.
 
 
 
The Hartford® is The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. and its subsidiaries.