Insurance Highlights

Raymond R. Mazzotta, Practice Director
Raymond R. Mazzotta, Practice Director
Steve Discher, Managing Director

Nolan Perspectives

Getting Hit From All Sides

In 2007 Nassim Taleb published his landmark book, "The Black Swan." He defined a black swan as a rare, unpredictable event that has severe consequences and will later be claimed to be obvious in hindsight.

An Interview with Gary Hallgren, President, Arity

The unabridged version of this interview originally appeared in the Summer 2018 Edition of IASA’s Interpreter. It is the 44th in a series of interviews conducted for the publication by Nolan’s Executive Director, Dennis Sullivan.

An Interview with Lisa Corless, President, AF Group

The unabridged version of this interview originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2017 Edition of IASA’s Interpreter. It is the 42nd in a series of interviews conducted for the publication by Nolan’s Managing Director, Steve Discher.

Loss Control – Hidden Opportunity

Some time ago I was interviewing an underwriting officer, and I asked him for his perspective on the Loss Control or Risk Management function. His response has stayed with me for a long time.

The Promise — and Challenges — of Digital insurance

The insurance industry is going through an unprecedented shift in terms of buyer behavior, marketplace dynamics, and technology. As a result, integrating core insurance functions with innovative technology has never been more important – or impactful.

Insurers' Growth Strategy — It's All About Results

Insurance companies today are all targeting profitable growth. There’s a buzz in today’s marketplace that one can shoot in any direction and hit their target. It’s not that easy because real growth opportunities are not everywhere.

Commercial Auto — An Old Dog Up To New Tricks
Rebooting Customer Experience

Insurance, at its core, is a service industry. Good customer service has always been an industry imperative. Given that backdrop, what is driving today's hyperfocus on customer experience?

Four Keys to Getting Governance Right

Insurance organizations are pursuing a variety of strategic initiatives – advanced analytics, digital insurance, core system replacement, customer experience, direct distribution, self-service, omni-channel, etc.

Speak Softly and Carry Big Data

The past few years have made clear that political organizations have become much more sophisticated in terms of leveraging “big data” and executing real-time, data-driven campaigns.

Getting Claim Costs Under Control

The P&C industry is undergoing significant challenges with increased claim severity in liability and physical damage claims. These increases are outpacing inflation and rate adequacy.

Thomas Edison and Henry Ford: Analytics Titans?

As an analytics practitioner, I am struck by the essential practices used by Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. These titans of industry undertook major initiatives, launched from the confines of their 21-acre winter estate in Ft.

Protecting Your Blind Side

Recently I worked with a client to analyze and solve some significant underwriting problems. Initially the company’s CEO was concerned because its loss ratios were higher than its peers’ loss ratios.

Strategy: Be Quick, but Don't Hurry!

I am a fan of legendary college basketball coach John Wooden’s books and his “Pyramid of Success” philosophy. In particular, I have found the book Be Quick—But Don’t Hurry to be an especially handy and useful reference.

Is Growth Overshadowing Resilience?

While the economy improves and business opportunities abound, it’s easy to forget what we all went through starting in 2008 with the economic meltdown. As we help clients hammer out business, operations, and technology strategies, we are finding many are almost hyper-focused on growth. Why not?

Bold Claims: Unlocking the Potential in Predictive Analytics

Big data is now ubiquitous in the insurance industry, but most insurers are merely scratching the surface when it comes to effectively harnessing its value. In fact, a recent study revealed that 60% of claims data is still unstructured, and that 16% of high-risk claims are still neglected.

At Your Service: How I.T. Can Deliver Real Value

I had dinner with a couple of health plan CFOs recently, and they both voiced the same concerns about their IT spends.

Don’t Take Lean Too Lightly

Like other contemporary management models, Lean can be a powerful tool for affecting positive change. And like other theories, it has taken time for Lean to catch on — especially in organizations outside of manufacturing.

Stepping Back: A True Leadership Skill

Each year, The Nolan Company conducts industry surveys to gauge the pulse of a specific industry, be it banking, healthcare, or insurance. Some are comprehensive, others are just flash surveys.

Underwriting Rigor: More Important Than Ever

Emerging trends in the insurance industry, combined with an expectation of relatively flat market conditions, are spurring executives to embrace new initiatives to maintain their market share and create new means of growth in trying times.

Package Enabled Redesign: Greater ROI–Revisited

Times have changed, but the need for change hasn’t. More than fifteen years ago, I authored an article that highlighted the differences between a traditional “reengineering” effort (the popular term at the time) and one which is driven by a system conversion.

Improving the Health and Financial Performance of Your Claims Organization

An annual personal health check (whether you think you need it or not) is a good discipline that can keep you healthy, help detect and treat problems and provide unexpected benefits. The same principle applies for the health of your claims organization, its processes and infrastructure.

Forward Thinking

2014 is shaping up to be a critical year with significant industry changes ahead. And they are coming at a much faster pace than ever before.

Risks Abound, Now Manage Them

The heart of Risk Management consists of identifying and analyzing exposures and then taking the necessary steps to minimize risk.

Familiar Claims Objectives Require New Solutions

Everyone agrees on the primary claims management issues. What are they doing about them?

Nolan’s P&C Executive Survey: A Close Look at Emerging Trends

There is no better way to learn about the trends in an industry than from the executives who live it every day. Most of the senior industry leaders who participated in Nolan’s P&C Executive Survey told us they are cautiously optimistic about the near future.

Achieving High Performance Underwriting Results

Comprehensive risk assessment – the accurate selection, assessment and rating of risk – rests at the heart of sustainable profitability.  Underwriting involves far more than simply matching premium to coverage consistently.

First, Know What is IN the Box!

“We’ve got to think outside the box!”  While this is a great mantra to encourage creative problem solving, I recently heard someone wisely say, “First, you’ve got to know what is IN the box.”  Understanding how things work in our industry today is always a pre-requisite to effectively address and

Nolan’s P&C Executive Survey: A Summary of Significant Priorities

The insights and comments provided by insurance industry leaders in the Nolan P&C Executive Survey signal the priorities and strategies that will drive their companies’ actions during these unprecedented times.

An Interview with Jack Salzwedel, Chairman & CEO, American Family Insurance

This interview originally appeared in the Spring 2013 Edition of IASA’s Interpreter. It is the 30th in a series of interviews conducted for the publication by Dennis Sullivan.

Leadership Changes with the Times

If it’s lonely at the top, perhaps it shouldn’t be.
Leading an organization in an ever-changing business world is never easy for those in the C-Suite. It seems that every time you think you have a solution to a new problem or a new social trend, something else changes and you are back at the drawing board, adjusting to yet another new variable.

Insurance Game Changers: Big Data Analytics

Fiscal policy uncertainty, changing economic direction, and even election results are perennial concerns that must be considered now more than ever as leaders maintain their focus on competitive advantage and sustainable profitability.

The Cost of Quality

As I write this, near-term predictions are multiplying for improvement in leading indicators; however, the pressure on cost containment remains strong. How should quality play into this cost reduction discussion? That question is likely to evoke strong opinions.

Compliance Driven Change: An Opportunity for Optimization

Delivering shareholder returns in today’s low interest rate economy requires a great deal more than strong leadership, good products, focused marketing and continuous operations improvements.  Innovation has become a prevalent theme, as has transformation, with industry pundits proclaiming the ne

P&C Claims Technology: An Evolution

Claims technology in the P&C insurance industry has significantly changed over the last 20 years and continues to evolve rapidly.

Initiating a Predictive Analytics Project

Just reading the words “predictive analytics” can make executives break out in a cold sweat. Unless you have an actuarial background or are a Mensa-level data modeler, the concept of predictive analytics can be extremely intimidating.

Acquisition Integration: A Hindsight Look

In last year’s fourth-quarter Nolan Newsletter, Steve Discher discussed the fact that M&A activity is likely to remain a hot topic in the insurance and financial services industry.

Balancing the Next Great Ideas vs. Exceptional Execution

At a business breakfast recently, two clients and I had a roundtable discussion sharing our thoughts about the latest and greatest ideas and experiences in insurance industry technologies, organizational constructs, sourcing options, and other topics.

Business Transformation: It's Not Just a Vision

“The last thing IBM needs right now is a vision.”

That now-famous quote was uttered at a press conference when new CEO Lou Gerstner was being pressed for an outline of his plans for the beleaguered company.

It's all About the Customer Experience

An article titled “Branding in the Digital Age” (Harvard Business Review) described how purchasing decisions are changing for products and services. The buying process used to be thought of as a funnel, where buyers narrow their choices from many down to one.

The Operations Behind the Brand

The days of marketing and operations co-existing in a contentious relationship have gone the way of payphones and paper applications. This sea change in the industry is occurring because young adults (that is, today's new customers) demand it.

Kicking the Can and Operating Model Complexity

Most of us saw it coming: massive restructuring as the U.S. Postal Service recently announced that it will close one in ten of its 32,000 offices. Efforts are under way to evaluate selling major operating locations across the United States, a move expected to save over $3 billion annually.

The Customer Is in Charge

Nolan’s recent industry survey revealed that most companies are only dabbling in social media. However, although companies are not quite ready to engage their customers in one-on-one communications, they are in social media anyway because their customers have put them there.

Beyond Data: From Analytics to Action (Part II)

In Part I of this article, I defined “business analytics” and provided an example of how one organization successfully applied the concepts to achieve a significant impact on profitability.

Lessons to Remember as Merger and Acquisition Activity Increases

There have been countless acquisitions in the insurance and financial services industry already this year. Slow organic growth, unpredictable investment earnings, failed institutions, and attractive acquisition targets are escalating M&A priorities on the executive agenda.

Beyond Data: Getting the Most From Business Analytics (Part I)

Do you remember Buzz Lightyear, the character from the movie “Toy Story”? He was the space action figure who believed he was not a toy, but the defender of the galaxies sent to save the universe from the evil Emperor Zurg. His favorite line was “to infinity . . .

Elegant Design Speaks for Itself

Anyone who has studied computer science is likely to be familiar with the unique connotation of “elegant” in the vernacular of technologists. It does not connote luxury or glamour or lavishness.

Characteristics of Successful Companies

At the recent Society of Actuaries Annual Conference in Boston, we were asked to present our findings on the characteristics of success for companies in the mid-market space.

That Doesn't Work Anymore

At a recent retirement party for an old friend who was a senior executive of a large insurance company, he made some interesting points worth sharing…

Characteristics of Successful Mid-Size Insurers: Part 2

In the third quarter 2008 edition of The Nolan Newsletter, we published part one of a two-part discussion around characteristics of successful mid-size insurers.

Today's War Over Talent and What To Do About It

If there’s ever been a time when we were all painfully aware of the war over talent, it’s now. Nearly every client we work with faces the same challenge: that of attracting and holding on to their most precious resource—people.

It's Elementary, My Dear Watson

In Sherlock Holmes stories, “it’s elementary” came to express how the great sleuth would discern the key facts of a case from the background noise, solving what baffled others. The resolution of Holmes’ mysteries always hinged on a few causal facts. The same is true in business.

Smart Use of Business-side Resources Optimizes Technology ROI

While working with one of our insurance clients recently, we were involved in a discussion of their 2004 business plan. The items listed in the plan were almost exclusively technology projects.