How tech is changing the future of the insurance sector

12 Mar 2021

Alexandre Ramos. Image: Kike Carbajal

Liberty Insurance’s Alexandre Ramos discusses the company’s new cloud-based ecosystem and how technology will impact the insurance industry.

Alexandre Ramos joined Liberty Insurance in 2018 with more than 20 years of experience working in insurance, banking and telecommunications.

He now works as the chief information officer for Liberty in Europe, which includes operations in Portugal, Spain, Ireland and Northern Ireland. He leads a team of more than 200 full-time information technology professionals, and is responsible for working with Liberty regional and global teams in other parts of the world to ensure the unification of the company’s entire cloud ecosystem.

‘We want everything we do to be made available through an API’

Are you spearheading any major product or IT initiatives you can tell us about?

In July 2020, we announced that we are investing €100m in a cloud-based ecosystem over the next four years, by which time all Liberty’s European products will be using the one solution. We are now halfway through this migration, with Ireland and Spain now live.

Essentially, this means we committed to convert from a kind of holding company for three separate geographic markets with diverse activities to a single global company, leveraging public cloud of AWS as if we were a new turnkey insurer.

Traditionally, insurance businesses rely on different processes and technologies to manage quotes, claims, customer services, purchasing and other core activities. This brings a complexity of systems, hardware and software for us across our different products and markets.

To address these inefficiencies, we are moving all our operations through a digital ecosystem based on customer centricity and leveraging Amazon’s public cloud API and consumption-based mentality. This new ecosystem represents a departure from the traditional legacy systems and data centres of old.

Based on the concept of a modularity, the company has gone from a greenfield to a full solution, where products and services can be launched with no constraints related to language, currencies or market context. These developments facilitate a digital and leaner operating model, particularly in relation to low-touch and no-touch products.

In October 2020, we launched our full new modular product pricing technology in Ireland, which is just the beginning of a long-term commitment to provide customers with the power of choice and the ability to purchase the specific insurance they want and need.

How big is your team?

We partner with global Liberty teams, and across Ireland, Spain and Portugal we have already a team of more than 50 full-time specialists in this new technology. However, including those who do not work full-time with the new technology, the team is around 200-strong.

We believe in partnerships, and we work with the best technology partners under a grow-grow relationship where we share mutual learnings to create state of the art technology in the insurance industry.

What are your thoughts on digital transformation and how are you addressing it?

As an insurance company, Liberty offers more than 3,000 insurance products. Currently, we are in the process of building all these products on our open cloud-based digital ecosystem.

Ultimately, we want everything we do to be made available through an application programming interface (API). We believe this will allow us to deliver real value for money for Liberty customers and will positively change the interactions customers have with insurance.

The €100m Liberty is investing in our new cloud-based approach to insurance will allow us to become more agile in meeting the needs of our customers – and crucially, in helping to simplify insurance products.

Our cloud-based ecosystem also allows changes to be completed up to 10 times faster. Changes that previously took months can now be completed in a matter of weeks, so we can roll out new products and offerings rapidly in response to customer demand.

Our vision is to give customers and partners the power and the ability to choose the type of guarantees they want, regardless of whether it is a multi-risk car, personal accidents or accidents at work, all in a more simplified and transparent way.

What big tech trends do you believe are changing the world and your industry specifically?

All the current technology trends and innovations have been implemented by our team – agility, migration of data to the cloud, concern for digital contracting systems. Liberty recognises a need for greater innovation and transparency in the insurance sector and, critically, the need to move away from outdated, inflexible product and legacy systems.

As we have seen with the recently launched modular product, consumers increasingly want technology to help with delivering more digital, easy-to-use, mobile, flexible and clear services that are tailored to their needs and circumstances.

We have seen this before across several industries – whether it be in air travel with the ‘unbundling’ of all of the ancillary services that come with a flight, or in television with different streaming models and add-ons that customers can pick and choose.

We see that trend changing the future landscape of the insurance sector too, with customers increasingly wanting the flexibility to choose what products to include in their cover for example, and to self-manage their own cover, claims, amendments etc.

In terms of security, what are your thoughts on how we can better protect data?

Security is at the core of our mindset. When we started the cloud process we identified that we needed a solution with four key components: it needed to be hosted in the public cloud to allow for constant agility, to be modular, client-centric and, finally and most importantly, it needed to be secure and GDPR compliant.

We then started looking across Liberty Mutual for components that we could push globally, things like content management or secure access, components that were there in the public cloud and were consumed by Liberty globally.

We went to the people of business and we told them: ‘OK we know that we must be a digital end-to-end and pay-per-use insurer, but what are the main pillars that we must take into account to orient ourselves to the customer journey?’ In the service process, in the acquisition of clients and in the financial flow, we focus on those processes or journeys.

Now, all the data that we have living in the cloud is safeguarded with external certifications such as Verizon, through practices and technology that ensure high levels of security. We have also been working with AWS in building our cloud-based technology and use practices instituted by them to certify that data is protected. In addition to these measures, platforms are in accordance with GDPR standards and their guidelines.

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