If everything is running smoothly – your home, your car, or your business – you generally don’t think about insurance all that much.
“It’s almost working best when it’s boring and there’s nothing there, or there’s nothing happening,” Angus MacCaull, Communications Analyst at AA Munro, said, adding you generally only think about insurance when you’re jumping into a big milestone such as buying a car or house, or if something goes wrong and you need coverage following an accident.
“You might not associate insurance with the kind of fast-moving, exciting developments that the world really has seen in the technology sector in recent decades, but when you look at the core business functions of insurance, there’s a lot of overlap, and there are a lot of areas in which insurance has always been very tech-forward,” MacCaull said.
In addition to using Volta as a central meeting space, and participating in corporate innovation workshops, it’s the convergence of insurance and tech – or rather, insurtech – MacCaull said, that was most appealing to AA Munro when it formed a strategic partnership with the hub almost a year ago.
MacCaull noted that when individuals apply for insurance, for example, there’s a wealth of personal information that – through some form of technology – is communicated to the advisor. It’s how that information is shared, stored and accessed by the advisor or consumer, that continues to shape the insurtech field. Areas such as cybersecurity, website and application development, document sharing and online communications are becoming increasingly significant business functions for many brokerages.
“Insurance companies have been very tech-forward in previous waves, in terms of mainframe computers, data gathering and long-term data analysis, and all that sort of actuarial analysis that goes into pricing a product – it’s huge, huge, historical sets of data,” he said. “We take some of those core business functions very seriously and we try to be continually learning. So if managing people’s information about their home, car or business, is part of the core product that we offer, we have to know the ways in which information management, database management, and information technology, are evolving.”
So for AA Munro, a brokerage that has served communities across Nova Scotia for 75 years, it only makes sense that, if they are not developing the technologies themselves, they are on the periphery of its development as an early adopter, or that they share their insights with startups working to disrupt the sector. The relationship and proximity to emerging tech, MacCaull added, will be integral to the sustained growth and development of the brokerage.
“We just thought we should be getting to know the people in the region that are having these kinds of conversations and over time, maybe we’ll learn something from them, maybe they’ll learn something from us,” MacCaull said. “In terms of the real world experience, we can share ours for some of the problems they are trying to solve, and the applications or models they are trying to build, and maybe there will be a fit somewhere where we could work together.”
As technologies continue to evolve, insurtech capacities are growing alongside it, he added, much like a second wave of telematics – a movement to put sensors or monitors on property to insure people based on their habits.
“With homes, new kinds of appliances have sensors, whether they are protecting the locks, an entertainment device, or controlling the thermostats – all of these different smart home devices are providing new forms of data, and new ways to gather old forms of data for how people use their homes,” he said. “This will, in time, affect the insurance industry’s understanding of the value of a home and how we protect it as an asset.”
This could be in the form of sensors on water systems, for example, that could turn the device off to prevent a flood, which would, in turn prevent an insurance claim, MacCaull suggested.
“We’ll see whether or not this fully happens, but there’s a bit of an understanding that, on the whole, there may be less detect and repair in insurance in the future and more predict and prevent that may come out of the increase in smart home devices,” he said, adding that’s just one application for this emerging area of insurtech.
“We got involved with Volta primarily to be part of the community – that physical presence, shared values, shared interests, and that’s also a shared narrative, and a shared story,” he said. “A major benefit is showing our folks at AA Munro, or our partners at major insurance companies across Canada, industry organizations, as well as local government and businesses, that this is a story that’s important, and that’s not going away,” he said.
For more information about AA Munro, visit their website.