Global insurance provider, Zurich, recently found itself in a complicated situation: managing digital disruption while increasing market share and strengthening its position. For a company of over 6,000 UK employees serving over 4 million UK customers, this was the business equivalent of turning an aircraft carrier.
Zurich needed to move faster and with more agility to build software solutions that drove their business forward and, ultimately, helped their customers. So they developed a digital transformation strategy that focused on three areas: innovation, simplification, and customer focus. Zurich looked to its IT department and DevOps to help execute this strategy.
Barrington Clarke, DevOps Lead, stepped up to the task. Charged with assembling the organization’s first DevOps team, Clarke selected his team with people united under one common passion. “We like fixing things,” says Clarke. “We like fixing things in the business, and we like fixing the technical challenges.”
Clarke assembled his new team — including John Quayle, Data Integration Specialist; Leonardo Scricca, Business Engineer; and James Foster, Business Engineer — and immediately set out to address an urgent issue. They aimed to increase the efficiency of a Zurich application that helps provide customers protection against loss incurred by acts of terrorism.
The group then set out to modernize the legacy application in order to improve data integrity and the user experience for Zurich’s underwriters.
Damage and loss from acts of terror can be catastrophic and a costly risk to insure. To mitigate risk, Zurich partners with Pool Re, a reinsurer whose sole purpose is to help insurance companies provide terrorism coverage. Pool Re is a public-private partnership scheme supported by Her Majesty’s Treasury which assumes a substantial portion of the risk that these policies carry.
The relationship between Zurich and Pool Re is an essential one because terrorism coverage is a necessity for Zurich’s customers. For Zurich, this aspect of the business is worth millions of pounds in gross written premiums, represents about two-thirds (roughly 20,000) of Zurich’s policies, and it consists of tens of thousands of transactions across millions of properties and risks. To maintain the relationship with Pool Re, Zurich needs to comply with Pool Re’s underwriting manual that tells them what premiums to charge, discounts and adjustments they can apply to premiums, and when they must send data and in which format.
The DevOps team’s inaugural task was to get a working knowledge of the legacy application that managed the terrorism underwriting process. They brought in Senior Product Underwriter, Alex Tong, to better understand the app’s users. The group then set out to modernize the legacy application in order to improve data integrity and the user experience for Zurich’s underwriters.