Trends and hot topics at IASA 2017

Authored by Eric Kegler, Christopher Tait, Jonathan Zeigler and Ken Hugendubler

A variety of educational sessions at the 2017 Insurance Accounting and Systems Association (IASA) Annual Conference discussed hot topics important to insurers, including:

  • The changing role of the CFO
  • New risk areas for insurers
  • Emerging technology for insurance companies
  • The use of smartphone and mobile technology for underwriting

CFO roundtable

The CFO roundtable discussed many topics, specifically the CFO’s changing role within organizations. In the past, the CFO took on a “scorekeeper” position where he or she was more heavily involved in reporting of financial results as well as managing investments and expenses. Now, the CFO has taken on a more strategic role by becoming highly involved in all phases of the corporate strategy to ensure a proper tone at the top is shared throughout the organization. This involves monitoring external and internal influences to be able to provide strategic content to the rest of the c-suite leadership and board of directors. Because of this changing focus of the CFO’s role, the most important job on day one as CFO is to identify and groom the future successor to ensure a smooth transition. This should include a sufficient development program focusing on thoroughly understanding the industry, as well as developing the appropriate technical and soft skills to succeed in this changing occupation.

A.R.F. super session: Emerging technologies changing the face of risk

The insurance industry is quickly evolving and everything from self-driving vehicles to the legalization of marijuana to drone use has some type of impact. Most often, companies tend to be reactive and wait until risks emerge before they do anything about it. This super session discussed emerging issues that insurers can prepare for to manage the associated risks.

Historically, claims departments identify emerging risks but wait for the data to come in, which they then evaluate by looking for trends. This reactive approach leads to insurers paying claims they didn’t prepare for. Instead, insurance institutions can identify potential risks earlier so they can better underwrite for them.

Session highlight: IASA Tech Tank

InsurTech has been of increased focus over the past year and the number of sessions focused on technology for insurance companies reinforced the importance of this emerging sector. One “Shark Tank” style session showcased six different emerging InsurTech companies. The companies pitched their idea to the audience, who then cast votes for the ideas they liked the best. The companies were pitching for real investments and the ideas were interesting.

The standout for our attendees was a company using mobile technology for underwriting. They developed an app that would allow the property owner to document various pieces of the property via mobile photos and send them directly to the insurance company. The onerous of documentation is put on the property owner, the inspector does not need to schedule a time or physically go to the property, and the insurance company has the documentation they need to complete the policy.

This general thought of using the video and photo functions on mobile devices, along with drones, to complete documentation for appraisal or inspection purposes shows a lot of promise. It will be interesting to see what aspects develop and how drones and other remote controlled devices change how companies complete their work.

For more information on these topics, or to learn how Baker Tilly’s insurance industry specialists can help, contact our team.