Corant Gains Competitive Advantage in a Global Insurance Market
Ranked as a top-10 broker by Lloyd’s, and with 900 staff in locations across Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America, Corant Global is an established leader in insurance. They are a wholesale specialty insurance and reinsurance broker, offering key services such as underwriting for their specialty brands, including Besso and Ed.
Corant already had a digitization plan that could help simplify the complexities of their business and meet the demand the entire insurance industry was seeing. However, the COVID pandemic accelerated the need for change. Corant needed an immediate solution that would help them improve their internal processes and the digital customer experience, something that would be a differentiator for them in the global marketplace.
At Mendix World 2021, Peter Hughes, Group Head of Application Development at Corant Global, joined Iain Lindsay, Technical Director at AuraQ (a Mendix Expert Services partner) to discuss how low-code and working with a delivery partner enabled rapid development and a huge digital product pipeline.
Picking up the Pace of Change
“There’s huge demand for technology to be introduced across the whole [insurance] industry,” Hughes noted.
With many industry-standard systems being nearly 20 years old, “[It’s] easy to see how operational efficiencies can be improved with an activity with internal systems as well as external systems,” Hughes said. Being the first provider to be able to offer clients fresh digital experiences would provide a “significant advantage.”
As with many organizations around the globe, COVID provided an additional challenge. Corant’s revenues had grown by 14% in 2019 and they had to immediately transition their operations from office-based to entirely remote while trying to maintain that momentum. The execution of their existing digital strategy, while a high priority for Corant, had to significantly accelerate to meet that need.
To ensure their digital strategy would be effective, Corant identified several essential criteria for the program:
- System interconnectivity
- Process and operational efficiencies
- Fast time to market
- Digitization of both existing and new products
- Strong client services
Low-code proved to be the solution to deliver on all those needs.
Further, as part of their acceleration plan, Corant needed to be able to work with a platform provider that could provide a professional delivery partner. “It was always our plan to upscale and cross-train our existing development team to become self-sufficient,” said Hughes. “But we needed to accelerate the development.” Mendix provided both a strong low-code platform and a strong delivery partner in AuraQ.
Immediate Needs, Immediate Deliverables
Within the first three months of work, AuraQ worked with the team at Corant to migrate two products away from legacy technology, and built three brand-new applications on the Mendix platform. Hughes noted that these very early wins “generated a lot of interest across the group and the development activities grew from that.”
In just over 18 months, Corant and AuraQ have collaborated on over 20 projects on the Mendix platform. A new client portal allows clients to go through the entire purchase process, from automatic, dynamic quote generation through to binding the policy, using application-generated policy documentation. This portal saves customers time, and allows them the ease of going to one place to open their account with Corant. That portal, according to Lindsay, “is the first phase of a much larger program of development, which will build out a group-wide client portal.”
AuraQ has also created several products which make life easier for Corant colleagues. The new client portal helps Corant staff manage activities, such as adjustments and claims management, as well as processing to help Corant’s finance team collect on premium payments.
Using the Mendix platform, Corant now has a risk and compliance solution around collecting data and due diligence necessary prior to starting business with any organization. This includes “sanction screening with LexisNexis, and then also manages the kind of ongoing refresh of that data,” Lindsay described. He continued, “This gives the current entities a good view on the possible risks of dealing with certain companies.” Corant can now also generate a claims and premium data report called a bordereau, which is a compliance measure for Lloyd’s of London.
The speed with which Corant can deploy these new applications and products has allowed them to keep adding to their roadmap, with the team at AuraQ able to consistently deliver elegant, effective products to meet those needs.
Additionally, the team has built out fit-for-purpose client portals, which allow for risk rating, sanctions screening, and integration with industry-standard platforms Lloyd’s List Intelligence and Global XP. Hughes talked through one particular case study involving one of their brands.
Building a New Bridge with Digital Transformation
Cyrus is a brand within the Corant Global portfolio, providing “specialty marine insurance services to clients all around the world,” according to Hughes. The Cyrus team was looking to enhance their Bridge client offering and technology solution, which included using SharePoint sites to share insurance policy documents with clients. As Hughes put it, “I saw it as a great opportunity to build…using Mendix.”
One of the key concerns for the Cyrus team was to not lose any functionality that already was available to clients. “From what we’d already developed and achieved with Mendix, I had full confidence that we would deliver what they needed,” Hughes remarked. The business plan included a path to replace existing functionality, but also one to bring in a new client experience with a design custom to Cyrus. The Cyrus team had an opportunity to collaborate on the design, and, as Hughes said, “we got their buy-in when they saw the first demo. They were really impressed with what we managed to achieve.”
As development progressed, the client experience was completely revamped to include claims, premium calculations, and quote buying. In addition, the new experience includes integration with Lloyd’s List Intelligence to get GPS data that allows Cyrus’ platform to show the precise location of a client’s fleet of vessels. Access to this data and having it directly implemented moved Cyrus’ offering from, as Hughes described, “a glorified document management solution…[to] an enhanced client portal.”
Previously, clients would have to spend large amounts of time documenting events where unforeseen circumstances caused a ship to enter an active war zone and notifying Cyrus’ underwriters for premium adjustments. However, according to Hughes, “Now, because we can access the GPS data of the vessels, we can accurately pinpoint when a vessel crosses over into a war zone and how long it was within that zone when it crosses back out. We can automatically then notify the underwriter and they can adjust the premiums accordingly.”
“We’re not aware of any other broker offering this level of service to their clients,” Hughes continued. “It’s definitely a differentiator for us.”
Creating Competitive Advantage with Low-code
Corant Global saw immediate results on several levels after they decided to make the move to low-code with Mendix and AuraQ. Hughes noted, “It’s the speed of delivering new products to market and being able to adapt quickly to market changes. Our client offerings give us a competitive advantage.”
Within just 18 months, Corant is seeing a decreased time to market for new products and an increase in its ability to test and respond to market changes. Additionally, their cyber insurance products saw a positive return on investment in just 3 months, and a single Mendix-backed app generated over $1m in a single year.
These culminated in $19.6m in gross written premium in 2020, along with a 10-fold increase of forecasted quotes in the next 3 years. With this performance, Corant is seeing the short-term benefits and is well set up for long-term gain.
On the operational side, Corant is also seeing substantial benefit from building applications that drive efficiency. In one case Hughes discussed, “We built a solution for one division where they can process more business without having a larger team.” That solution saved the division $120,000 in a single year.
Corant is also taking steps to upskill their in-house development team, with seven of their developers now Mendix-certified. This provides the benefit of expanding future development capability, and also lessening the need for continuous partner support.
“Try something new”
One of the biggest values Corant has seen with Mendix is the ability to partner with an experienced and expert delivery partner in AuraQ. “Engaging with a delivery partner early on will really help you get the most of the platform,” Hughes relayed while discussing the benefits. He continued, “The expertise, best practices, these can all be used to enable your own team. And while your team are being upskilled and trained, you can also get things delivered using the partner resource.”
Giving similar praise to their client, Lindsay complimented the strong direction from Corant: “With the pace that Mendix development teams can build with the platform, having a dedicated product owner that’s available to answer questions…and also to kind of make the key decisions on prioritization, I think that’s absolutely critical to maintain the pace of development.”
18 months ago, Corant Global knew where they needed to be and knew that they needed to get there quickly. Their desire to innovate and their decision to try low-code with Mendix and AuraQ paid off, resulting in new solutions that are differentiators in the market, both for customers and for colleagues. Their growing product pipeline will allow them to continue to be leaders and to grow. As Hughes concluded, “Mendix can really help you innovate, so try something new.”