Tell us about the latest innovations at NIS
NIS is at an exciting point in our growth journey. We have invested heavily in rebuilding our core products, and have brought in new senior leaders to our organisation to ensure we stay at the leading edge of technology trends and integrate those trends into our product and service offering. Behind the scenes our products are built using modern technologies (TypeScript, React, MUI, GraphQL, etc.), and we are continuing to transition to a fully cloud-native application suite. On the surface, we have expanded our policy system to handle a broader range of global insurance products and continue to improve our industry-leading case management and claims platform, allowing insurers and TPAs to fully automate their claims processes. Our product roadmap includes continuous platform improvements, an open API for third-party development, and even more focus on ever-changing global security requirements.
Travel insurance went through a lot of change during and after Covid-19. Do you think any of these changes are for the better?
Yes, absolutely. The pandemic presented our industry with unprecedented challenges, however our collective response has yielded some amazing new solutions and innovations. Companies adopted chatbots, AI/ML and automation to increase productivity. As global staffing shortages continue, these technologies will continue to be important in offsetting increasing staff costs and underemployment concerns. The overwhelming resumption of global travel has motivated new companies to enter the marketplace, via partnership or their own bespoke innovations. New entrants will increase global competition, which ultimately benefits the end consumer and our industry as a whole, as better solutions will be more widely adopted and help promote insurance as a necessary part of anyone’s travel plans.
What does a normal working day look like for you?
I am an early morning person, which has helped deal with the time difference between Europe and North America over the years. My day starts at 5:30, usually with a combination of catching up on emails and going to the gym (I try not to do both at the same time!). After that, mornings are generally calls with colleagues and clients in Europe, and afternoons are blocked for North America. Having split my time across Canada and Denmark for so many years, I have found that splitting my calendar is the most effective way to manage our growing global business. Regardless of what I am working on, if it has anything to do with Europe or the UK, I try to do it before 12:00pm, and anything for our business in the Americas happens after 12:00pm. This gives me an opportunity to collaborate in real time with our different global teams and customers daily.
How much of your time is spent working with THiA, and why is THiA and the April event so important for the industry?
The Travel Health Insurance Association of Canada (THiA) was founded in 1998, and is a national organisation that represents companies across the entire value chain of Canadian travel insurance. I was very fortunate to be recently elected to THiA’s board of directors, and to serve our industry alongside the rest of our board and our committee volunteers. THiA’s mandate is to be the leading voice of the travel insurance industry in Canada, and while it does command some of my time, it is time well spent. The Canadian travel insurance industry has supported me tremendously throughout my career, so the least I can do is continue to grow THiA’s voice in Canada and across the globe. Our annual conference in April is an opportunity for THiA members to reconnect with one another and to connect with non-Members from across the world, to promote the travel insurance industry within Canada, and to celebrate our recovery and growth as an industry.
The pandemic presented our industry with unprecedented challenges, however our collective response has yielded some amazing new solutions
How has the Canadian market changed in the past few years?
Just like other global markets, Covid-19 had a significant impact on the Canadian travel industry. The onset of the pandemic saw a large wave of trip cancellation claims and insurers and TPAs worked overtime to service the market amidst growing uncertainties. Since travel resumed last year, we have seen not only a return to pre-pandemic travel trends (i.e., Canadian Snowbirds travelling south during our cold winter months), but several new, exciting trends have emerged. Increased consumer demand for travel has brought several new entrants to our industry, and those new entrants have helped inspire new products and services and have shifted focus from survival to growth and expansion. One of the growth drivers companies are investing in is technology, so we are seeing a lot of interesting new tech-driven solutions entering the market. AI, parametric insurance, and big data are all at the forefront of the Canadian travel insurance industry at the moment, and I am sure new tech will continue to infiltrate the market in years to come.
Will you be joining us at ITIC MEA, and if so, what do you hope to achieve?
I will be at ITIC MEA this year and am very excited to be participating. I think it’s great that ITIC have added an MEA focused event. I have met many industry members from the MEA region over the years, and given how important travel currently is, and how much it is expected to continue to grow in the region in the future, it will be great to have an opportunity to connect with local market participants. I hope to learn more about unique aspects of the MEA travel market and to expand my network of contacts in the region through all the great networking initiatives ITIC supports before, during and after the conference.