Untangl Co-Founder and CEO Richard Stewart Told Information Age How Insurtech Startups Disrupted Financial Markets
Stewart explained how sensitive data is secured and the trends he sees happening in Insurtech going forward.
Insurtech startups are leveraging digital technologies to reduce complexity in the insurance industry, while making customer service more efficient and intuitive. As the data generated in financial markets is often inconsistent and undefined, innovation using data science and automation capabilities has played a major role in the emergence and development of Insurtech.
One of those Insurtech companies looking to speed up the process of handling customer data is Unravel. Founded in 2015, Untangl provides a tool, named Untangler, which finds and validates data, before transforming it according to user needs, replicating administration tasks that are normally performed by human employees.
“Untangler has three elements,” said the co-founder and CEO of Untangl, Richard stewart. “It first looks for data in the data sets provided, which are usually tabular data that matches specific patterns. Users can create models in Untangler, which allows the tool to receive any incoming file and accurately find all the data that meets the user’s needs.
“Second, Untangler needs to ‘understand’ what data is. This means using language processing to find table headers according to user criteria. We’re also looking to sample data in columns, in every cell in the document, to support tool selections.
“After the document is processed and graded, Untangler takes the defined pattern, which includes column controls and date and money formats, and converts the data into a sheet that follows that pattern. “
While this task would normally take staff between half an hour, the Untangler tool can, according to Stewart, consistently complete this job in under five seconds, without the risk of human variables.
Cultural challenges in insurance
Working in the insurance industry for over 20 years, the CEO of Untangl has seen firsthand the challenges that insurers face when it comes to innovating in the field. He thinks the most difficult hurdle to overcome is the cultural change needed to get there.
“There is no doubt that technology is going to disrupt the insurance industry like any other industry,” said Stewart. “But I think assurance has been particularly slow on modernization, and this was evidenced by the rapid move to the cloud.
“The pandemic has been another catalyst in an overhaul of operations going forward, but a cultural issue is present around an industry underinvested in technology, yet struggling to innovate in such a low-risk landscape and at a high margin. “
Stewart went on to explain that space companies can often spend up to 18 months making decisions to resolve inquiries in response to potential problems, a reflection he described as “a reflection on the way not to do it “.
However, while the insurance industry has found it more difficult than others to innovate quickly with short-term projects, the past year has seen areas such as personal insurance become more nimble and intuitive.
“It’s not easy because the industry has experts in their complex fields, who represent stakeholders with billions of capital behind them, and any mistakes can be financially disastrous,” added Stewart.
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Ensuring data security
When dealing with such sensitive customer data, it’s critical for Insurtech startups to keep these assets sufficiently secure, especially with the increase and complexity of cyber attacks while employees continue to work remotely.
At Untangl only in the cloud, most of the security measures in place are provided by AWS, including encryption in transit and at rest, and monitoring tools to highlight suspicious activity.
“Because we were able to rebuild this on a cutting edge technology stack, we were able to adopt best practices regarding how we build our software,” said Stewart.
“Moreover, Untangl is not a platform but a gateway. We get data, manipulate it, and then it comes out. Once this is released, the data is deleted from our systems.
“We store this data for a short time while we convert it, but it is designed to be a bridge between the outside world and the organizations. “
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Insurtech trends in 2021
As Insurtech startups continue to disrupt financial markets going forward, Stewart expects more of these budding companies to look to challenge incumbents over the next several years, leveraging complete infrastructure.
He said: “Companies such as Lemonade and Hippopotamus are able to operate more efficiently with the new technology they use, while still managing to raise huge sums of money, most of which is spent on marketing.
“In insurance, a disruptive marketing message will be just as important as the products themselves, and that’s another challenge incumbents are trying to overcome.
One problem Stewart has seen in the insurance industry is the growing saturation of the tools available to businesses, and the noise in the market has overwhelmed insurers. In response, one Insurtech trend that it sees suppressing this overexposure is the emergence of markets, which will encourage the curation of sets of insurance providers and allow customers to take advantage of standardized APIs.
“For example,” he explained, “we are talking about a joint venture between an insurance company and a technology company, and collaborations like this will help insurers engage more in the market. technology and to be able to make better choices based on their needs. Needs.”