Learning about the history of insurance is, in many respects, like learning about the history of mankind from roughly the Middle Bronze Age forward. Monetary economies (with markets, currency, financial instruments, etc.) were made possible, in part, by Chinese (3rd millennium BC) and Babylonian (2nd) traders agreeing to transfer or distribute risk when transporting their wares. The origins of health and life insurance date to circa 600 BC when Greeks and Romans created guilds called “benevolent societies,” which cared for the families of deceased members, as well as paying funeral expenses of members. (Guilds in the Middle Ages served a similar purpose.) Before modern insurance (as we know it to be) was established in the late 17th century, “friendly societies” existed in England, in which people donated amounts of money to a general sum that could be used for emergencies.
This History major (B.A., Ripon College, 1993) could go on, but you get the idea. Today, the practical effects of the concept and practice of transferring risk surround us on a daily basis: we wake up in our homes which are covered by property insurance; we often drive our cars (auto) to our employers’ offices (a commercial property protects the office building, while a BOP protects your employer) to conduct our work. Many companies offer their employees the opportunity to purchase various forms of insurance (health, life, dental/vision, long and short term disability, etc.) at discounted rates. Upon returning home, we often spend time on our electronic devices (some covered by optional warrantee plans at time of purchase) and, as a final example, may use them to plan a vacation, for which travel insurance may be purchased.
Now you’re probably thinking something along the lines of, “Wow, this guy is a real insurance nerd.” You would be half right in that I’m simply a nerd whose interests aren’t confined to insurance history. Example: I find the language of insurance to be just as fascinating as its history (and at times more frustrating). When I entered the industry several years ago, I struggled distinguishing between Occurrence and Claims-Made coverages in Medical Professional Liability (aka Malpractice) policies. A business owner can purchase both a General Liability and Property policy, however those together do not equal a Business Owners Policy (BOP) unless that package is specifically requested. Admitted Assets. Bordereaux. Future Purchase Options. Qualifying Events. The list goes on and on.
When the conversation turns to an insurer’s or captive manager’s policy and claims administration system, language is important. What adjectives best describe not only how your technology platform functions but how it makes you feel when using it? Is it “clunky,” full of endless “drop-down” (or “pull-down”) menus that add unnecessary steps to workflow? Or is it intuitive and seamless in a manner that allows the user to access any bit of information (policies, open claims, a named insured, reinsurer, etc.) in two clicks or less? What about the user interface? Does it look sleek and modern in the way we’ve come to expect most modern operating systems to be? Or does the screen on your manager’s insurance processing system remind you of the green screen or CRT heyday of the 1980’s and early 90’s?
We at Megalodon chose three simple words to describe our software: powerful, affordable and elegant. The latter is particularly interesting (in our humble opinion) because software that allows companies to operate more efficiently isn’t usually associated with “elegance.” And therein lies the point. For an industry with a history dating back nearly 5,000 years, hundreds of terms in dozens of languages describe the what, how, why and when policies will make us whole in the event of a loss. But few words are used to describe how a good policy/claims admin system can make a carrier’s work more productive or the captive manager’s user experience just a bit more rewarding. “Elegant” encapsulates both the pleasingly graceful way our software performs and the smart, “stylish” way it looks on the computer screen.
Insurance administration software that’s simultaneously powerful, affordable and elegant? Now you’re speaking my language.
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– Jim Reuter, VP Business Development, is passionate about improving insurance operations using forward-thinking software and systems. There was also a time during college, upon returning from a semester in Italy, that he didn’t need subtitles to know what Michael Corleone and Sollozzo were discussing in front of Chief McClusky. To talk to Jim directly, please call (608) 709-2154 or drop him an email at email@example.com.