New Horizons

By Jessica Mudditt | Vol: 41 Issue: 3 | Oct 2018
  • Claims
  • General Insurance
  • Insurance Broking
  • Life Health and Retirement Income
  • Reinsurance
  • Risk Management
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There is no doubt that insurtechs, using new technologies, are proving highly disruptive to the insurance industry. Yet not all represent a threat to incumbent insurers – indeed, some insurtechs provide potentially valuable opportunities for partnership.


Hello Claims is a case in point. Founder and CEO Nick Herford has 20 years’ experience in the motor vehicle claims assessing industry, and motor insurance is something of a family profession and obsession, with his father working for NRMA as an assessor.

“My father commented a few years ago that not much had changed in relation to the process of assessing,” says Nick. “Assessors were still going to smash repairers with a manila folder and a handwritten field sheet.”

His father’s comment got Nick thinking, having also noticed that many insurers were not readily embracing technology.

“I thought, hang on, we’ve got all these brilliant pieces of technology out in the market – not necessarily in the insurance space, but we have the Ubers and Googles and Facebooks doing incredible things and evolving. And yet here we are still using paper templates and inputting them into a Word document and sending that Word document as a PDF to our clients,” he says.

The global disruptors spurred Nick on, encouraging him to come up with a means of reinventing the handling of claims. In the past four years, Hello Claims has pioneered live video streaming and digital claims management.

“What makes Hello Claims unique is how we work with our partners. We go to a business and look at their pre-existing data and ask them what their pain points are,” he says. “We build a solution to suit their product.”

Nick says Hello Claims adds value for insurers by facilitating faster turnaround times of repairs, reducing claim life, lowering claims spending, and providing a full line of sight from start to finish. The use of live streaming technology for assessments enables Hello Claims to turn around claims in just 48 hours.

“[Clients] simply download the application while we have them on the phone, they hit record and we’re able to carry out an assessment,” Nick explains.

Last November, Hello Claims announced a two-year partnership with Splend, a car leasing and rental service for Uber drivers. Under the agreement, Splend has adopted Hello Claims’ assessing technology to manage the claims process of its vehicles. The partnership means repairs will be completed within an average of five days, compared with the industry average of 16 days, allowing drivers to get back to work sooner.


Blue Zebra was created to plug a gap in the market, according to its co-founder and Managing Director Colin Fagen. “The biggest insurers in Australia are all multi-distribution players who are competing against brokers while suggesting that they’re supporting them,” he says. “We think brokers are getting a bit of a raw deal.” Instead, Blue Zebra creates home, motor and landlords’ insurance products specifically for the broker market, with the aim of helping brokers to grow and protect their portfolios. It has delegated underwriting authority from Zurich, which will back the
start-up’s policies when claims are made.

Blue Zebra and Zurich announced the partnership in February, shortly before the launch of Blue Zebra.

“A broker-focused underwriter such as Zurich was a good match for Blue Zebra. They don’t have the distribution channel conflict that most large insurers have in the Australian market,” says Colin, a former QBE group CEO as well as an ex-president of the Insurance Council of Australia. He believes Blue Zebra’s biggest competitive advantage is its dynamism, as it’s not encumbered by legacy issues.

“We’re able to build and adapt our systems very quickly to meet the competitive environment and assist brokers to defend their SME clients while taking back associated personal lines products. There is a real opportunity to maximise the penetration and growth potential from the brokers’ current client base, which is often not being optimised.” 

Blue Zebra works in partnership with intermediaries to help them compete against both the direct and multi distribution players. “By keeping our expenses tight, we think we can support them on being price competitive where we need to be, against the multi-distribution underwriters,” says Colin. 

“We have the ability to change our rates daily. We’re dropping code into our system twice a week for enhancements suggested to us by our pilot brokers. We’re currently producing new products in 30 to 60 days, which is our expected roll-out schedule".

Blue Zebra uses big data to produce household insurance quotes from just five questions. Most underwriters ask significantly more – about 20 – which is costly with respect to time and resource allocation for brokers. “But just because we’re asking fewer questions, that doesn’t mean we’re underwriting any less. 

We’re actually bringing that data into our operational models behind the scenes and not using the brokers’ labour to collect the data,” says Colin. 

Blue Zebra’s aim is to grow its package and products to achieve turnover in excess of a billion dollars over an extended time frame. 



Dr Catriona Wallace has seized an opportunity to create a software company that remedies low online sales conversion rates and poor customer experience. The founder and CEO of FlamingoAI, an enterprise technology company specialising in machine learning and conversational commerce, says her company uses an unsupervised method of machine learning. 

“Unsupervised learning presents a machine with data and asks the algorithm to tell us what’s important. It works best with both small amounts of data and vast amounts of poorly understood data,” Catriona explains. 

Founded in 2013, FlamingoAI provides cognitive virtual sales and service assistants solutions that automate online customer sales and service experiences. Customers using FlamingoAI’s cognitive virtual assistants ‘Rosie’ and ‘Maggie’ benefit from around-the-clock online assistance that can help them understand the benefits of life insurance products, among others. 

No answer is presented to a customer that isn’t pre-approved by an organisation – which means tighter risk and compliance mitigation,” Catriona says. 

FlamingoAI is working with Fortune 100 and ASX 100 companies such as Nationwide, Liberty Mutual, AMP, Chubb and MetLife Asia to deliver higher conversion rates and improve customer experiences with online enquiries about complex financial services products.

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