The Art and Science of Underwriting
In his first podcast ever, Ash Bathia, Chief Executive Officer, Probitas 1492, is this week’s guest on The Voice of Insurance. In this episode, Ash speaks about starting the business, growth plans for 2021 and beyond, and how Probitas 1492 combines the art and science of underwriting to deliver results.
“One of the key things we set out from day one is let’s focus on classes of business where we believe that we have the expertise and knowledge to build those.” – Ash Bathia, CEO, Probitas 1492
The podcast kicks off with Mark Geoghegan asking Ash about the organisation’s growth strategy and where it sees itself in relation to its competitors. Ash discusses how the organisation wanted to be its own business from the beginning and not a ´me too.´ Ash speaks about how companies should focus on the areas where they feel they can make a difference and do them well. Regarding Probitas´ approach to this, he says: “Identify the areas where supply and demand are in the right way, where we think we can actually make a difference and provide solutions and we can create a long term profitable business in that area.” Ash explains that the organisation is focused on certain classes of business where they know they have the expertise and the right people to bring value to customers.
Talking about specific business and exposure areas that are key for Probitas, Ash says: “I look at cyber as being a big dislocation with more to come… If we’re going to be a 21st-century business, cyber has to be part of the strategy and will be, that’s an area we’re doing a lot of research at the moment, to look at all of the dynamics of the market, look at dynamics of the exposure, there’s going to be a growing demand particularly in the area, and we want to be here now to be able to provide solutions to our clients and brokers.”
Analytics & Technology
“Building a strong analytics and actuarial capability and a data warehouse where we can get data on demand, I think all those things have really been instrumental in my view in allowing us to take this journey and go through all the hard yards and then come out of it and hopefully now, have a strong base and foundation which we can build on.” – Ash Bathia, CEO, Probitas 1492
As the conversation turns to technology, Ash speaks at length about technology’s place at Probitas and within the wider industry; commenting on this Ash says: “I think the cost of technology is coming down, it gives us more options available, and there’s lot more flexibility to deploy technology. In some ways, being a small player without the legacy is actually a big advantage rather than a disadvantage, I think, for us. We don’t get technology done to us; we actually do the technology to help us – it’s a really important distinction.”
Automation in the insurance industry is gathering pace, although underwriters still spend a lot of time rekeying data each quarter and duplicating efforts. Ash describes how automation tools can eliminate these time-consuming tasks and allow underwriters to focus on those high-value activities that generate business.
Ash mentions that automation is delivering significant benefits at Probitas, but that the key is to maintain data integrity; he says: “First of all, capture the data in a logical way, capture it properly and accurately. I use the principle of do it once and get it right. If your data is good and you can rely on that, then everything flows from that… and then you can use tech to automate all the process, all the returns should be automated, your finance team and reserving team and your underwriters should be spending time actually challenging the data and actually looking at the insights which are coming out from the information as opposed to turning the handle and trying to just do the same old thing again differently.”
Hiring people who are tech-savvy and who have a 21st-century mentality is vitally important to Ash; commenting on this he says: “The people we have in the business fully understand what’s the art of the possible by using data and technology in the right way and that’s what’s going to drive our business.”
When asked about his level of involvement in the underwriting part of the business, Ash says that underwriting is in his DNA, which will never change. Speaking about his relationship with the Underwriters, he says he has a weekly meeting with them where there exists an open door culture, he says: “I call our business as underwriting led not underwriter led – it´s that combination of underwriting and analytics, the art and the science that makes the business at the end of the day.”
Enjoy the podcast.