Innovating at the edges – George Beattie, Head of Incubation Underwriting at Beazley & Co-chair of the Lloyd’s Product Launchpad
This week’s guest on The Voice of Insurance podcast is George Beattie, Head of Incubation Underwriting at Beazley and Co-chair of the Lloyd’s Product Launchpad. Having recently attended several industry events in March, this writer noticed that almost all keynote speeches and panel sessions discussed the need to innovate to remain relevant and prosperous, whether through cutting-edge technologies or new products and services. In this episode, George speaks with Mark Geoghegan about how the problem is not a lack of original and innovative ideas but a shortage of time and resources to do all the best ones justice.
With £150m of capacity, the Lloyd’s Product Launchpad began in 2019 with the commitment to create and foster a “safe space” for underwriters to experiment with new ideas in a controlled way. The initiative explores non-standard risks that might not fit the traditional market, such as risks relating to intangible assets, new technologies, and others.
Kicking off the discussion, Mark asks George about the Launchpad’s mission, George comments, “The role of the Launchpad essentially is to bring a group of innovators together, to do new stuff and what I mean by that is pooling brainpower, diversifying capacity and ultimately trying to partner with the best in the business whether it comes to data, other types of technologies that can help us understand and to get out there and really kind of close the protection gap, and it’s a really exciting place to be.” George discusses how real progress is being made in launching offerings.
Reinforcing the magic of Lloyd’s
Why does the industry need a launchpad specifically to make innovation happen, asks Mark? George discusses the challenges companies face when “innovating at the edges” because most of them are becoming siloed by geography, product type, or other factors. For experiments to succeed, they need to be done in a controlled manner, consistently, and with the opportunity to scale, George comments, “The fabric that made up the legend of Lloyd’s is still there, culturally, but I think Underwriters find it harder and harder to go outside of their distinct channels. The Launchpad is an effort to say how do we get back to that magic that operated the frontier of the market where we doing genuinely new stuff in areas where there is significantly actuarial uncertainty. We don’t have all the ideas, we don’t have the answers, but we have the ability to take correlated information and try and answer a problem for a certain type of buyer… It´s about getting back and reinforcing that kind of magic that people expect from Lloyd’s.”
Speaking about running experiments, George adds, “The disincentives to breakthrough innovation are many and I think we’ve got to look how do we dissolve those disincentives to do things in a controlled manner and to make sure we can add value and do it safely, but still take calculated bets on new areas that are going to add value to buyers.”
How many frogs are you out kissing on average asks Mark; George replies, “hundreds of frogs,” further adding, “There is a raging torrent of innovation happening right next to the market. If innovation is a river, it’s right there next to us. We´re in a sort of island in the middle, and we just have to kind of dip our hand in.”
Enjoy the podcast.