Sameer Datye interviews the Belgian insurer about how the eBaloise initiative digitizes the broker channels.
The eBaloise initiative is based on one foundational concept: Digital when possible, always human.
Baloise Insurance not only wants to be an innovative insurer that capitalizes on the possibilities that technology offers, but also continues to pay attention to the human aspect and personal touch.
Insurance behemoths usually draw up a typical picture in popular imagination - Ultra Conservative, men in pin-stripe dark suites, polished shoes, leather bags - the quintessential paraphernalia. And of course, all the policy documentation - Times New Roman font face, legal jargon, disclaimers et all. All somewhat still ossified in the 20th century; rather divorced from the radical technology and societal disruptions happening around.
You would imagine that a typical European Insurance giant established in 1863, ~9 billion EUR Gross Written Premium, with ~8000 employees, would still be steeped up in hallowed traditions. However, Baloise Insurance’s Belgian operation has embarked on a path of embracing the change and powering their business ecosystem by empowering the broker community.
I met with Joris Smeulders (CIO), Noël Pauwels (Managing Director Non-Life Retail) and Bart Walraet (Director Corporate Marketing) from Baloise Insurance to talk to them about this approach. The following is an extract from the interview.
Noël: Brokers take care of our customer relations in the Belgian market. It is in our common best interest to see that they succeed and in turn we succeed.
Bart: We see the brokers as an extended arm of the Baloise family. They translate the customer requirements and relations in tangible business for us. We believe that they are a mission critical part of the insurance ecosystem in Belgium.
Nöel: It’s about going beyond traditional insurance, it’s about a selection of initiatives. Our approach is based on the five-pillar concept of – Acquire, Invest, Incubate, Test & Collaborate. With the broker being our most important distribution channel, this was where we wanted to put in our investment money.
Bart: Scale is the challenge. In Belgium, there are around 7000 brokers, there are ~5 large companies, but the rest are mid-sized or even individual operations. Digitization is not cheap. Individual investment could be very expensive and almost impossible to sustain. Hence, with Baloise investing, it becomes an automatic enabler for the brokers.
Bart: We believe that the digitization process will free up the administrative overhead for the brokers and help them focus their time more effectively in the advisory capacity.
Joris: Very true! It will allow the brokers to help the customers make the right buying choices and at the same time help in managing claims in a more empathetic way. When there is a loss, the human aspect is very important, and it is at that moment that the relation between the broker and their customer needs personalised service and handholding.
Noël: Digitization represents both an opportunity and a threat. We don’t see it as Technology ‘replacing’ our human assets. Rather we want it to be a force multiplier for them. 1 + 1 can become 11 not just 2, if this is handled right. The overriding philosophy is Digital when possible, but always human. We have been voted as the most broker friendly insurer of 2018 by the FVF (alliance of Flemish brokers) and we intend to remain this in the future as well.
Joris: Baloise has set up ambitious targets in terms of business volumes, number of customers, shareholder returns and employee satisfaction all aided by technological enablers. We have started this journey by incubating the eBaloise platform. eBaloise is much more than introducing a new Technological enabler. It has a huge element of ‘cultural transformation’ amongst all the stakeholders especially the broker community and Baloise’s own employees. It is more a mindset change. We at Baloise always remind ourselves - Digital when possible, Always human.
With this disruptive approach, Baloise in Belgium is poised to challenge the current status quo in the market by choosing the approach of empowerment and enablement of the intermediary channels.
The eBaloise initiative is the 1st initiative of its kind in the Baloise family. Whoever I talk to Baloise gives me the example of an oil tanker and speed boat. Their current business is like a massive oil tanker - very reliable, but difficult to manoeuvre! However, the eBaloise initiative is more like a speed boat, extremely fast and agile. Not only does it have the ability to speed up the innovation journey, but it has the possibility of adapting to the changing societal winds very fast. I especially like the approach of Digital when possible, Always human. This beautifully summarises the business duality of addressing the digitization needs but never compromising the human connectivity. Well! it is going to be fun!
Baloise’s agile insurance initiative is powered by the Insurance-in-a-Box [iiB] platform, an open ecosystem initiative by Tieto. Currently the partners supporting the initiative are Insicon, Nets, Eyeonid and Onegini.
For more information on Baloise:
Ivo De Bondt, Director- Technical, Non-life Retail, Baloise Insurance, Belgium, email@example.com
For more information on Tieto & Insurance-in-a-Box:
Sameer Datye, Head of Business Development, Insurance and Wealth Management, Tieto, firstname.lastname@example.org, +358407166492
Sameer is responsible for ecosystem-driven business development in the Insurance sector. He is also responsible for the Insurance R&D team in Tieto. In the IT sector, he has a long experience of working for the Healthcare and Insurance sectors. Prior to which he worked as a product manager and a brand manager in the food, processing and packaging industry. He is passionate about translating technology innovations to business reality leading to better quality of human life.
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