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NEW YORK — Technology has become a core element of the insurance sector and has gone from disruptor to enabler, according to speakers at an event in New York hosted by Willis Towers Watson PLC and Plug and Play LLC.
Andrew Johnston, global head of insurtech for Willis Towers Watson in London, joined the company three years ago and “at that time, we didn’t have an insurtech practice,” he said.
He now has a group of roughly 30 staff who have sorted through some 2,000 technologies to arrive at a focused group of 20 to develop, he said.
“Technology has become a component part of business,” Mr. Johnston said.
Asked why he was interested in technology, William Seymour, assistant vice president, professional liability in New York for Transatlantic Reinsurance Co., replied, “You kind of have to be."
“Trans Re believes that businesses have to change to remain relevant,” he said, adding the company is “looking for startups that are generating premium.”
Technology is now being seen differently by the insurance sector, they said.
“Personally, I don’t see (technology) as being intrinsically disruptive,” Mr. Johnston said. “I think it has the ability to amplify disruption, but I don’t think technology in and of itself is disruptive.”
“The theme of disruption, the narrative, is not there anymore,” Mr. Seymour said, but has become much more about “enabling” the industry.
Investment also continues into the sector, topping $1 billion in the first quarter.
“I do not see this trend slowing down anytime soon,” Mr. Johnston said.
Valuations have become “astronomical” in some ways, Mr. Seymour said.
BOSTON — Pillar Technologies Inc., a New York-based construction risk management firm using environmental sensors to improve site management, on Wednesday won the inaugural RIMS Tech, the Insurtech Competition event at the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.’s 2019 conference in Boston.