distriBind: moving beyond spreadsheets

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InsTech’s Ali Smedley speaks to Dave Connors, Founder and CEO of distriBind, about the value of having a single data integration point for connectivity to multiple insurers, the company’s experience in the Lloyd’s Lab and the data challenges the insurance industry faces.
What does distriBind offer to the insurance industry?
distriBind aims to reduce the volume of spreadsheets used in the insurance industry. We focus on back office reporting and data exchange, particularly within delegated authority business. This area is particularly spreadsheet heavy and requires a lot of manual processing.
distriBind provides an API which allows data to flow between MGAs, insurers and reinsurers in real-time. This can be used where distribution to policyholders is digital, which is usually the case with tech-enabled MGAs.

When spreadsheets can’t be avoided and bordereau (a report from an MGA to its insurer listing the assets covered or claims paid) have to be sent, we have data ingestion tools that can save up to 45 minutes of pre-processing time per spreadsheet and which also eliminate 99% of manual processes.
What is the benefit of using distriBind’s API?

MGAs often spend a lot of time and money creating their digital platforms, but get asked by insurers at the end of every month to send their risk, premium and claim data in a spreadsheet.

On the flipside, when MGAs start to work with more than one insurer, they do not want to set up an integration with each different company. One of distriBind’s strengths is that we can offer a single integration point for all parties through our cloud-based API.
What is your background and why did you found the company?
I have worked in the insurance industry for 20 years, initially as an insurance technician and then I moved toward business analysis technology. My roles allowed me to experience first-hand the reporting challenges within the industry, leading me to found distriBind to create a solution.
How does distriBind use OCR technology to help deal with broker statements and submissions?
Brokers often send submissions and statements via email using PDF to underwriters. Using optical character recognition (OCR) to extract data reduces the volume of manual inputting by underwriters to create the bordereau – instead distriBind processes the statement and creates whatever entries (risk or premium) are necessary without rekeying. We also validate and reconcile as necessary; it’s all automatic.

We are also currently working on a capability that would allow the wording of the binding agreement (that defines the terms and type of insurance the MGA can sell) to be read and a contract to be created within distriBind.
What kind of analytics does distriBind provide?
distriBind provides real-time analytics through browser dashboards. Clients are provided with information such as how many risks have been written, what the total premium value is, what premium has been reconciled or not reconciled, what claims need to be paid and loss ratios. This can all be viewed on an account level, a binder level and all the way down to an individual transaction level. 
We also offer periodic reporting. This includes earned premium and when premium was settled versus when it should have been to identify any lag in credit control.
Our machine learning capabilities also give insurers insights into capacity utilisation. distriBind can look at the account history on any individual binder, see the premium written within the current period and predict what it will look like in the future.

This can help insurers decide if they want to provide more or less capacity to MGAs they support. 
Liberty Specialty Markets is your biggest client. How do they utilise distriBind?
Liberty uses distriBind for all its European binders, which involves the use of our OCR and XML processing as well as traditional bordereaux. We’re already eliminating bordereaux from some of their value chains. We are removing huge amounts of manual effort from others whilst adding greater data visibility and easier oversight.

We’re also working with another global carrier which we will be announcing shortly, which uses us for more traditional bordereau management. At the moment we are only used for its London financial lines, but there is very significant premium income on the account and we’re also looking at other lines of business and territories.
How do you decide what companies to partner with?
One of the main factors is whether or not the partnership will bring us a new client in the near future, or if they can assist our delivery of existing clients – we already work with Synpulse and Cognizant in these ways.

Thinking more in the longer term, we also consider if they are a potential future acquirer. We also want to partner with companies we enjoy working with.
What do you think are the biggest data challenges the insurance industry faces?
Common data standards are often promoted as a solution to many of the challenges the industry faces. distriBind is showing that this is not the only solution, in fact parties can share data with distriBind even if they use different standards. This is particularly important because over the last five to ten years the number of new data sources has exploded, from wearables to drones. It will take time for the insurance industry to agree on a standard. To ensure efficient and accurate data exchange, distribBind believes that the most important thing is to make data exchange as simple as possible.
What was your experience in the Lloyd’s Lab like?
The experience was transformational for distriBind - we are now a very different company to the one that initially walked into the Lab. It was great to get the increased credibility and publicity from being selected, but the experience itself was also amazing.

We had a very supportive and engaged set of mentors who gave us lots of great feedback and advice. distriBind would not have achieved the growth we’ve had over the past year without the Lab. 
Why did distriBind join InsTech as a corporate member?
At an early stage Matthew and Robin have been big supporters of ours, helping out with introductions and invitations to InsTech events. Now that distriBind has started to take off, we wanted to engage further with the InsTech community to amplify our message and make further connections. 
What companies are you looking to connect with?
distriBind is mainly looking for potential clients, which include insurers, brokers and MGAs. We are also interested in connecting with partner companies that could enhance our offering.

To learn more about distriBind, please reach out to me directly, either on LinkedIn or via email - dave.connors@distribind.io.