Advances in technology will have a dramatic impact on both the insurance industry and the world in which our customers operate. Embracing this change is a challenge and opportunity for QBE. We know we need to innovate faster than ever before to improve our processes, create new products and services and capture new market opportunities.
Rising to this challenge is central to our strategy and we are investing across a broad portfolio of innovation activities. Our innovation portfolio grew considerably in 2017 to include participation in industry-leading consortiums, the introduction of a new corporate venture capital unit and advances in our emerging technology research capabilities.
QBE Ventures was launched in 2017 to invest globally in start-ups that provide access to differentiated technology which has the potential to enhance QBE’s business model, drive efficiencies and develop new avenues of growth.
One of the things that QBE Ventures looks for when investing in a start-up is the potential to bring their product or technology back into QBE through the creation of commercial partnerships alongside our equity investment. There’s a twin benefit to this approach – our equity investments provide QBE with a unique vantage point into the rapidly evolving landscape of new technologies and business models, while our commercial partnerships deliver an immediate impact to our divisions through efficiencies and revenue growth along with opportunities to collaborate and co‑develop future products and services.
In 2017, QBE Ventures invested in its first two portfolio companies, Cytora and RiskGenius.
Cytora (www.cytora.com) is a London-based start-up that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and open source data to help insurers lower loss ratios, grow premiums and improve expense ratios.
RiskGenius (www.riskgenius.com) is a Kansas City-based machine learning company that helps carriers, brokers and regulators analyse policy and endorsement language and aid in product development.
“The RiskGenius team chose to partner with QBE because we believed in its people and its mission. The QBE people are passionate about insurance and they are hungry for new solutions. I love the fact that QBE has decided to focus on data and analytics when partnering with Insurtechs. The two parties are aligned in our vision for RiskGenius to become a utility, a standard, for insurance professionals looking to evaluate insurance policy language. That’s exciting.” – Chris Cheatham, CEO of RiskGenius
Emerging Technology Research
The QBE Digital Innovation Lab continues to help create a future that is driven by the emerging technologies of today. The research that the Lab conducted in 2017 has had a far-reaching impact on the organisation – from the development of new insurance products and services to a better appreciation of the risks and opportunities posed by cutting edge technologies. Its research included highly sophisticated simulation of losses to specific components of electric vehicles, advanced object and loss detection using satellite imagery, and research into the opportunities presented to insurers through advances in quantum computing. In many cases, the research that comes out of the Lab will form the foundation of the future of how QBE operates and how we sustain our competitive advantage in the marketplace.
The Blockchain Insurance Industry Initiative (B3i) is a collaboration of insurers and reinsurers formed to explore the potential of using Distributed Ledger Technologies within the insurance industry for the benefit of all stakeholders.
B3i is focused on developing and testing technical developments aimed at better serving customers and enhancing transaction efficiency, thus promoting competition. QBE Re, which is QBE’s reinsurance division, joined the consortium in 2017 and is working closely with other members on the evaluation of B3i’s first product, a Property Catastrophe excess of loss contract.
“QBE Re joined the B3i initiative because we strongly believe it has the right foundations in place to drive more efficient data processing across the whole reinsurance value chain, to the benefit of all parties involved.” – Piet Haers, Head of Reinsurance Operations at QBE Re