EMC Insurance Companies receives Insurtech Corporate Innovation Award from Plug and Play, world’s largest global innovation platform

Thursday, 12 December 2019

ICMIF member EMC Insurance Companies (USA) received the Insurtech Corporate Innovation Award from Plug and Play at its Winter Summit in Silicon Valley last week. Plug and Play is a global innovation platform that connects start-ups and corporations.

“We are honoured by this award as it speaks volumes about the culture of innovation we’ve established at EMC,” said Scott Jean, EMC Executive Vice President — Finance & Strategy. “We’re doing industry-leading work and engaging our entire organization in the journey.”

EMC launched 17 pilots or proofs of concepts in 2019. Of those, several progressed to commercial agreements. EMC has plans for more pilots and commercial agreements in 2020. Additionally, EMC invested in five companies in 2019.

The award was presented by Eugenio Gonzales, Director of Plug and Play Ventures, who said on stage, “One thing we love that EMC is doing is their Pop-Up Innovation Lab, which consists of crowdsourced team members made up of EMC employees who submit applications to participate. This cross-functional team inspires and educates employees about new technologies, explores and researches the insurance impact of emerging technologies, and helps recommend solutions for EMC and their agency partners.”

Some examples of innovation at EMC in 2019

In February 2019, EMC announced that it had invested in tech start-up MākuSafe which had developed patent-pending wearable technology that monitors environmental exposures to identify risks in industrial workplaces.

“Our agents and policyholders Count on EMC® to provide insurance products and, at the same time, help policyholders mitigate and manage their risks,” said Jason Gross, EMC Vice President – Strategy and Business Transformation, at the time of the announcement. “That’s why we are investing in and partnering with companies like MākuSafe that are leveraging new technology and analytics to make our workplaces and workers even safer.”

In June 2019, EMC launched a pilot programme with MākuSafe, aimed at testing how MākuSafe’s technology can help companies reduce workplace accidents and workers’ compensation claims.

MākuSafe’s wearable armband technology gathers real-time environmental and human motion data to identify workplace risks. Then, the MākuSmart cloud platform uses machine learning to analyse the data, identify potentially hazardous trends and generate alerts for safety managers—before an incident/claim occurs.

“The world’s changing for our agents and policyholders,” says EMC’s Vice President — Risk Improvement Bryon Snethen. “We want to provide them value beyond insurance; wearable technology and effective data analysis are some of the ways we’re pursuing that.”

Also in June of this year, EMC announced it had partnered with Matterport, a world leader in 3-D capture technology and data, to investigate using 3-D reality capture on commercial properties for loss control and claims management. EMC said it was the first property insurer to test this technology for commercial claims in order to drive efficiency and maintain its strong brand of customer satisfaction.

EMC first utilized Matterport scans of real-life properties affected by natural and man-made disasters to document losses and damages. After this initial adoption, EMC says it quickly realized the potential benefits of using Matterport for claims adjusting, improving the customer experience by getting policyholders back on their feet after a loss, while giving them confidence that the full extent of their loss was documented. The 3-D capture technology is now being explored by EMC’s claims, loss control and innovation teams.  EMC will also use it to develop 3-D training programs for claims and loss control employees.

“Matterport’s technology is a highly practical application in the insurance industry, and we are proud to be among the leaders adopting it in multiple capacities,” said Gary Friess, Property Review Manager at EMC.

July 2019 saw EMC announce that it had partnered with AI start-up Betterview, investing in their Series A funding round and signing a commercial agreement. EMC planned to steer their commercial property activities with the help of Betterview’s predictive analytics and risk management platform.

“We’re aligned with Betterview in a lot of ways, so it made sense for us to participate in their Series A round,” Risk Improvement Innovation Manager Chad Veach said. “We feel their product is going to be valuable for us and the industry as a whole. We intend to use it in our underwriting process and to identify policyholders who could benefit from our drone-based roof assessments.”

In September, EMC announced plans to revamp its technology systems to transform and elevate how it does business. “EMC is committed to transforming into a digital company that can easily adjust to industry disruption and evolving customer expectations,” said Scott Jean, EMC Executive Vice President – Finance and Strategy.

EMC selected Guidewire Software, Inc. to power its digital transformation strategy. The company said it will implement Guidewire InsurancePlatform™ applications delivered via Guidewire Cloud™, which will enable EMC to move to a single technology system for all core business functions, including policy, billing and claims.

“By moving to one platform, EMC will be able to make quicker product and process changes, which will improve our speed-to-market,” said Mick Lovell, EMC Executive Vice President – Operations. “Ultimately, our goal is to enrich agent and customer experiences by providing more ways to meet their needs, enhancing our relationships and creating industry-leading processes for the entire insurance lifecycle.”

Throughout 2019, EMC also expanded its drone-based aerial intelligence program, conducting a scaled pilot with series C start-up Kespry. Using drones and computer vision, EMC ramped up aerial roof assessments of school buildings, providing valuable insights for underwriters and loss control recommendations for policyholders. Following a July 2019 tornado, EMC was able to use drone flights to safely assess property damage days before it would have been feasible without the aerial imagery.

ICMIF webinar featuring EMC

In September, ICMIF hosted an exclusive webinar for member companies entitled “Leveraging the start-up ecosystem to spark innovation” which featured a presentation by Jason Gross, Vice President, Innovation, EMC Insurance Companies. Gross spoke about EMC’s journey of collaboration within the start-up ecosystem and how the organisation has made significant investments in open innovation; entering into strategic partnerships to conduct pilot projects and investing in start-up companies that support their strategic priorities. The webinar also featured a presentation by Chloé Beaumont, Hub Manager, MAIF (France).

Webinar attendees heard about the different approaches, strategies and practical examples of initiatives that are testing innovative technology solutions and products to deliver sustainable value for policyholders/customers.

For more information about ICMIF webinars or to request a link to watch the recording of this webinar, please contact webinars@icmif.org.