At MS Amlin we are always looking for ways to improve our clients' experience when doing business with us. When a few years back we established Edge, a virtual internal innovation unit, we started to look into blockchain (or distributed ledger technology) and its potential to transform insurance industry.
Transforming the value chain
MS Amlin has collaborated with Maersk, EY and a wider consortium of stakeholders from across the value chain to launch the world’s first blockchain platform for marine insurance. In a market that has historically relied on poorly integrated manual processes, we are investigating the potential of blockchain to streamline (or even transform) the business model for marine insurance. By improving the overall quality and timeliness of data, reducing duplication and increasing automation, blockchain can reduce errors, improve transparency, enable real-time decision-making, and save costs.
“ This proof of concept shows our commitment to working with our clients to help them realise their goals as well as enabling us to start to shape our products and services to meet their needs” says Miles Taffs, Regional Director and Head of Marine and Aviation, MS Amlin Lloyd’s Syndicate 2001.
What is blockchain?
A blockchain, or mutually distributed ledger, is a platform on which data is recorded without central coordination by a trusted third party. Instead, the ledger is de-centralised. All parties who participate in the transaction have their own ‘node’ on the ledger to hold their data. Information can only be added to the ledger if consensus has been reached between the parties following agreed protocols.
Information only needs to be added once at source, and flows to each of the permissioned nodes for the parties to agree – after which point it is immutable. This means all parties can trust the data without needing to re-enter or reconcile the data.
By incorporating smart contracts that automatically execute pre-agreed rules, the potential of blockchain can be expanded to not only improve data accuracy, trust and transparency, but also to increase automation and efficiency.
“Insurance transactions are currently far too tedious and frictional. The distance between risk and capital is simply too far. Blockchain technology has the potential to facilitate the desired development that is long overdue,” comments Lars Henneberg who is the Head of Risk and Insurance at Maersk.
How will the client benefit from blockchain?
Trust in data
Blockchain offers new opportunities to collaborate with clients to share data in better ways. Quality, trusted data is vital in the complex and ever-changing world of insurance and reinsurance. We’re initially focusing on using a distributed ledger to facilitate the efficient (and secure) sharing of client data through the value chain. The platform will connect clients, brokers and insurers with a single, continually updated version of the data they need – when they need it – with increased transparency and an immutable audit trail.
There are many manual processes in the value chain, so increasing automation should benefit all parties. Using smart contract functionality means that changes in the data can flow more efficiently and effectively through the value chain and automatically trigger changes under the insurance contract, thus saving costs and ensuring more focus on value-adding activities.
Maintaining appropriate security over data is of paramount importance in a world of ever-increasing cyber-security risks. With permission-based access and an identity management process, people can only view the data they are allowed to see. Encryption increases security and the distributed nature of the data means there is no single point of failure.
What the future holds?
The use of blockchain in the (re)insurance industry is new and largely untested, and (as with many new technologies) the future is difficult to predict. The fundamentals of sharing data digitally and transparently, and automating the impact of changes to an insurance contract – could not only benefit shipping and marine insurance but also a wide range of other sectors and (re)insurance classes. There are a number of ways the platform could be developed, such as adding more functionality for claims or settlements, or extending it to cover more classes of business.