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Challenge Ahead for Insurance IT Leaders

Robert Regis Hyle | May 12, 2015

If you were unable to attend the recent ITA LIVE conference, the inaugural event put on by the Insurance Technology Association, you missed out on the opportunity to join some challenging discussions led by insurance industry leaders.

The conference got off to a flying start as Steve Mariano, CEO of Patriot National, quickly got the audience’s attention when he warned that the insurance industry is at war with big technology companies who threaten to change the dynamics of the way the industry operates. Mariano delivered the keynote address on Sunday, April 12, and advised insurers that the business and IT units need each other to survive.

“Collaborators will win the next decade,” said Mariano.

The nearly 100 attendees got down to business on Monday, April 13, with the opening session featuring a discussion between Bob Otis, CEO of National Lloyds Corp., and Don MacFarland, representing CastleBay Consulting. As a CEO, Otis found the biggest mistake in internal dialogues takes place when IT is not represented in those discussions.

“If I walk into a meeting and no one from IT is there, I turn around and walk out and tell the organizer to reschedule when IT can be there,” said Otis.

The day continued with a discussion on data that featured Heather Wilson, chief data officer of AIG, and Miguel Edwards of Allstate. Wilson told the audience the value of data goes beyond simply better business decisions.

Insurance data, she said, “can make the world a safer place.”

Other discussions that day included:

  • Denise Garth of Strategy Meets Action, led a discussion on emerging technology with Bill Hartnett of Hartnett Advisors, and Karen Elliott of Great American Insurance. The discussion centered on the speed of change in the world and technology’s place in both life and business
  • Ryan Pinney of Pinney Insurance Center discussed the competition insurers face for producers and agencies
  • Karlyn Carnahan of Celent talked about how gamification has changed the way many people look at insurance and how fitness apps and other technology allow customers to focus on their coverage
  • Larissa Tosch of Glatfelter Insurance led a lively panel of insurance solution providers that included Andy Scurto of ISCS, Bruce Broussard of Insurity, Matt Blackley of Maple Technologies; and Ralph Severini of Hyland Software

The final day of ITA LIVE featured a much-anticipated report on cybersecurity prepared by Salient Commercial Solutions that featured the results of a study on ethical hacking conducted on the systems of 10 insurance carriers that volunteered for the study. Janeen Blanton of Salient was joined by Tom Dunbar of XL Group. Of the 10 companies attacked, all 10 showed vulnerabilities, with major problems found with eight of the companies.

Blanton told the audience that 70 percent of most system errors could be avoided by applying available updates and patches. Dunbar reminded everyone there are better ways to use a customer’s data without exposing private information to hackers.

Also discussed on the final day of ITA LIVE were:

  • Marissa Buckley of Security First Insurance and David Broscious of Great American Insurance explained how their companies have gained advantages through the use of mobile technology for their customers
  • Jerry Luftman, PhD of Global Institute of IT Management and Tracey Berg of West Bend Mutual revealed the results of a report conducted by the GIIM and what business and IT leaders see in the future

ITA LIVE also featured the presentation of the first ITA Bridge Award, which was given to Gary Ouellette and Lisa Keysar of Union Mutual of Vermont for demonstrating the ability to bridge a connection between the business units of Union Mutual and the carrier’s IT department. Jim Daggett, executive director of the ITA presented the award to Ouellette.

Daggett also announced that with the success of the inaugural event, there will be a second annual ITA LIVE conference to be held in the spring of 2016.





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The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.


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