Interview: Sid Mouncey – Tailoring solutions and unpicking problems for travellers
Sid Mouncey, CEO of Blink Parametric, speaks to Michelle Royle about changes in the industry and why parametric insurance is so important in today’s climate
You have been in the global financial services industry for over 20 years. What are the biggest changes you have seen in that time?
The level of change across this period has been significant, primarily driven by access to new technologies and innovative digital first brands entering the financial services market. This has been tied to a sea change in the expectations of customers who are increasingly used to operating their lives online with near immediate response to queries and access to help. Customers are more demanding of the companies they decide to buy services from, and rightly so. They expect support and things to be made simple and accessible without having to spend hours trawling through documentation. Aligned to this we have also seen regulators around the world increase their focus on customer outcomes. Regulators have placed a higher onus on firms delivering value to their customers for the services they buy whilst removing complexity and barriers to claim or use services where possible. This has led to better products being developed and increasingly ones that encourage engagement with the customer so they can get better value.
Increasing external costs have been a common theme through this period and are especially acute now as is the need to differentiate in an increasingly global, highly competitive market. All of the above has led to an increased focus on automation and the use of digital technologies to enhance customer experience, reduce operational costs and drive greater efficiency across all processes. The ability to deliver services and help at the time and place that customers need it is becoming an expectation with customers which is where Blink Parametric come in by providing real-time help when our insurance partners' customers need it.
What does your current role at Blink Parametric involve?
As the CEO of a relatively early-stage business my role is incredibly varied, and I get involved in all aspects of the business which helps me to see where we need to increase focus and resource to drive current and future value. The main priority for my role is to ensure we have an aligned view as a team on the strategy of the business, ensuring we all know ‘where we should be going’, ‘how are we going to get there’ and ‘how fast’. It is then my job to ensure that we are able to communicate this effectively to our shareholders and that my team have the tools to allow us to execute effectively. I spend a lot of my time with existing and prospective clients to understand more about their businesses, what their goals and ambitions are and how we can tailor our solutions to help them deliver on their ambitions.
Why do you think parametric insurance is becoming so important in today’s climate?
As the global travel industry emerges from the pandemic, there is a real need for travel insurers and brands to regain customer trust and to differentiate their proposition in a hyper competitive market.
We have seen the incredible burden placed on the operational resources across the travel and travel insurance industry following the re-opening of travel, specifically in airports, insurance claims handling and operations departments. This is in turn leading to a greater level of actual and perceived disruption and issues in the travel journey and ongoing delays in claims resolution and customer support when things go wrong. We are seeing claims functions being distracted on high volumes of lower value claims which is impacting the resolution time for materially Important claims such as medical claims which require cost containment quickly and efficiently.
Parametric solutions allow insurers to remove those high frequency lower value claims from their operational teams, knowing that these will be dealt with automatically. This improves time and attention as well as the speed of support the insurer can provide for major claims. Parametric claims processes also allow insurers to help their customers at that time of disruption delivering real-time support at a stressful time. Knowing these policies are in place before you travel gives added peace of mind that if something does go wrong you don’t have to worry.
Customer expectations have changed at the same time. They expect a seamless experience – not to have to use their valuable time at a stressful moment to dig around for policy wordings and helpline numbers when all they want is someone to help them in their time of need. Parametric insurance delivers for the customer in real-time helping to make their bad day better. Costs are increasing across the travel insurance industry with inflationary pressures across the world, and parametric helps to reduce the impact of this on insurers whilst dramatically improving the customer experience.
Are travellers showing an increased interest in insurance, and do you think this effect will be temporary as the stresses of Covid and disrupted travel become distant memories?
Based upon our feedback from global insurance partners, there is certainly an increased interest in travel insurance when it incorporates a real-time parametric cover that delivers help at time of need, not weeks or months later. This is due in part to the increased stresses when travelling nowadays compared to pre-Covid with the increased disruption and reduction of airline and airport resource and staffing levels. I don’t think this is a temporary trend, especially as travel insurance policies become more customer orientated and insurers and technology providers like Blink Parametric introduce more digital support tools to help customers self-serve and manage their journeys effectively in a stress-free way in real-time.
We have seen in early adopter markets that real-time flight delay solutions are becoming the norm and expected by travelling consumers and travel insurance brands alike. We expect to see this impact widen as more forward-looking travel insurers look to adopt this customer-centric view of the world.
Blink Parametric has recently teamed up with Firemelon to offer ease of access to Blink Parametric real-time parametric solutions. Can you tell us a little about the partnership and why it’s so important?
We are always looking for ways to make the adoption of parametric services simple for travel insurance companies and brands. Partnering with Firemelon allows travel insurance brands that operate through Firemelon’s Magenta system to be able to switch on our parametric travel insurance solutions as a quick and easy configuration option rather than a new integration with their core systems. This partnership allows Firemelon to offer cutting edge parametric services within their platform and for travel Insurance brands to be able to access these services for the benefit of their business and customers quickly with low levels of effort. We are expecting our first travel insurance partners to launch through this platform in Q2 2023 and that this will serve as a simple path for other travel insurance brands using the Magenta system to follow.
Regulation is probably the main hurdle to innovation for InsurTechs. How have you approached the challenges of regulatory compliance in different regions?
At Blink Parametric we have an in-depth understanding of the insurance market and localised regulation in key markets around the world. We are truly insurance and technology experts combined. This allows us to support and educate our local market insurance and brand partners and help them navigate this complex and variable regulatory landscape.
In general, the increased global regulatory trend towards more customer-centric behaviour is a benefit to our real-time solutions as they remove barriers to claim, reduce friction from the claims process whilst delivering a great customer experience and reducing costs for insurers. It’s a win-win for the insurer and the customer. We are not trying to become a MGA or have our own insurance capacity and this allows us to work and collaborate with insurance partners and brands globally with zero competitive issues. We are 100 per cent focussed on delivering high quality technology solutions to travel insurance partners. This focus helps us deliver a consistent approach across the global market and where we need specific solutions to navigate local regulations, we find the right partnership model to allow us to do this. An example is our partnership with a global cross-board payments provider which enables us to pay insurance claims on behalf of our Insurance partners in a swift, secure and compliant way.
What trends are you seeing in the InsurTech sphere? Do you think Europe differs to the rest of the world when it comes to embracing InsurTech?
We are seeing an increase in insurers choosing to partner with specialist technology partners such as Blink Parametric rather than incurring the costs and internal distraction of trying to re-build these complex solutions. This allows them to focus on the core business knowing a specialist business is developing and continually enhancing these solutions for them. Consumer parametrics is an underserved area at the moment, and we expect to see that trend alter as adoption across primary insurance lines increases. Travel is a great use case for these services due to the heightened stress levels when away from home, but we are seeing a high level of demand for this type of solution in other core insurance lines.
Overall, I would say Europe has been slower to react in this area than some other markets but it is likely to catch up quickly. One of the reasons for this is the highly regulated environment that these insurers operate within. Insurers have been incurring the costs of increased regulation which has forced many to focus more on the operational costs in the business. This, alongside the focus on customer value, has now led to a position that we are seeing a flurry of European insurers and travel insurance brands looking to move more quickly into the real-time parametric space, and as one moves in a market these services will start to become accepted as a norm, leading to mass adoption.
To know more and get started on transforming your insurance business, please visit our website, blinkparametric.com