The ‘platformisation’ of the insurance market continues apace, with the launch of a new solution that connects credit and political risk insurance (CPRI) underwriters and brokers in order to address the issue of unstructured data and efficiencies in the market.

London-based Dialogue Exchange, led by former Aon exec Ben Heaney, has created a digital platform that aims to streamline the often cumbersome back-and-forth between brokers and underwriters when buying and selling CPRI policies. At present, the broker goes out to the market, and asks the underwriters to study the risk and indicate a response which, if acceptable, may result in the risk being underwritten. Once the underwriter does that, the broker then collates those responses, all of which are in different formats, and puts them into a form or table for the client’s review. This process currently relies on as many as 400,000 emails a year – and countless telephone calls – between brokers and underwriters.

The solution created by Dialogue brings all of this onto one central platform. It enables brokers to structure and create enquiries, and build their own templates that are specific to their clients. They can then send those enquiries to all of the underwriters on the platform, and each underwriter will be able to respond and negotiate, with the system automatically filling in the broker’s table of responses in a uniform, structured way. Policies can then be built and electronically binded, with API connections to insurers’ systems for electronic placement of risks.

“After spending nine years in credit and political risk insurance, I felt that there remained a real gap for a platform that improves the experience of brokers and underwriters and makes those transactions much more efficient,” Heaney tells GTR. “We are digitising what the market is doing. The pain point that the market is facing at the moment is that there are a lot of people to see, the data is not digitalised, it can’t be sorted, it is not structured, and ultimately clients want quicker and clearer responses. The first step is really to get people on the same page and digitalise the data which currently remains unstructured.”

The proliferation of insurance platforms of late has seen a tussle for control between brokers and insurers, with concerns from both sides over who should take the reins as the industry slowly moves towards a future digital state. Overcoming this challenge has been a key focus for Dialogue, which is positioning itself as an entirely neutral intermediary between the two sides.

“The platform is only for brokers and insurers. This is our marketplace. There is a lot of suspicion in the market about platforms, especially around the possibility of disintermediation of brokers. We are not more of the same. We are trying to increase the efficiencies between brokers and underwriters,” says Heaney, adding: “The entire marketplace needs to digitise. We are not trying to provide something for one broker or one underwriter. We are really trying to improve the overall marketplace for all.”

The first iteration of the platform has been running since December, and saw a trial whereby underwriters posted their box hours to the web-based platform for brokers to see. While seemingly simple, this trial addressed a major inefficiency for the market

“We started with this simple use case in order to quickly get both buyers and sellers in the marketplace. We wanted to solve possibly the smallest pain point we could find, which is maybe a few too many emails per week, and that got the brokers onboard and showed the underwriters that there is a way for brokers and underwriters to use a third-party system for the first time. The initial app launch has been really good in raising our profile,” says Heaney, adding: “We are not changing the process for a broker or underwriter, and we are not in any way trying to discourage face-to-face negotiations. However, we recognise that all of this information is going to have to be digitalised at some point. We look to the whole chain of insurance, and our aim is to take away all of the fairly low value add pain points and allow brokers and underwriters to focus on what they do best.”

The platform now counts around 130 registered CPRI broker users, spanning 14 broking houses. On the underwriter side, Dialogue is currently limiting itself to the Lloyd’s syndicates, and has signed up 80 underwriters across 14 different syndicates.

Dialogue now plans to roll out its full solution in May, with demonstrations and testing set to take place in April.