Innovating risk placing in the London Market
It must have been late 2014 when Marcus and Jonathan walked into my former design studio in Southwark to discuss the design of a forward-thinking initiative for their insurance technology firm, Whitespace Software.
Today, Whitespace is an electronic risk placing platform recognised by Lloyd’s of London for the purposes of the electronic placing mandate.
Price Forbes have just announced the adoption of the platform, referencing better user experience, which makes us very proud. Whitespace’s vision to digitise speciality insurance is closer than ever to becoming a reality. It will bring important benefits to the world’s largest insurance market by making it more competitive.
The following story outlines the UX design of the Whitespace apps. For the innovative technology and the visionary people behind them, please visit Whitespace Software
Designing the Whitespace experience
Having no previous knowledge in insurance has been more advantageous than I’d have thought. We had to learn everything from scratch by talking to people and asking questions. Sometimes silly questions. Sometimes repetitive questions. This helped us build empathy and understanding. Having no preconceptions as to how to treat any given problem was a remarkable place to begin.
Our experience with other specialist industries and products, however, did help a lot. We were able to borrow elements as we saw fit and test them early to see how people would respond. That's where the line-by-line comparison feature originated.
Lack of progress on digitisation is causing big concerns in the largest speciality insurance market in the world. The London Market engages 52,000 interconnected risk professionals but as costs rise, there is a need for modernisation. Despite the efforts of Lloyd’s, adoption of digital placing technology has proven slow-paced. The design problem is adoption of technology: risk professionals find more comfort in the traditional way of working.
Empower brokers and underwriters to do what they do best in an intuitive and more efficient way. Technology that works for them and not the other way around. Design a “consumer-grade” electronic risk placing product that is easy to use by people aged 24-65 and requires virtually no training. It’s designed mobile-first and foremost, is nice to look at and to interact with.
London Market counts for the 26% of the City’s GDP
Design thinking in InsurTech
Defining the problem correctly is always the first step: you can’t help anyone by solving the wrong problem. In the early days there was very limited access to real users. To overcome this, we worked closely with a few team members who had held underwriter roles in the past and had deep industry knowledge. We tried to prototype early ideas that worked for them first.
“Whitespace developed those early ideas into a proof of concept that showed that their technology could create and execute digital contracts – and that the London Market Target Operating Model (LM TOM) goal of one-touch data was possible. This was one of the first steps towards digitising the way the London Market does business.”
— Insurtech-led change in the Lloyds Market, Oxbow Partners report
Since the early days, the product has been developed in small chunks of endless iterations. There have been many cycles of understanding–exploring–implementing to arrive at where we are now, and there will surely be a lot more to come.
From here, we can already see its potential. We envision billions of pounds of premiums running through it, which can happen this year already with Price Forbes adopting it for all lines of business.
Whitespace Software has been working with a consortium of broker and carrier companies to improve the platform. We’ve been given access to brokers and underwriters from large companies such as Munich Re, Ascot, NEON, AXA XL and more, to perform usability sessions in order to discover user’s pain points early on. It was great to see that people responded well to our UX effort and, without exception, were keen to participate in usability testing and interviews. We heard a lot of complements, which is always nice, but dug deeper do discover issues.
One of the highlights of UX research was the opportunity to sit in a syndicate’s a box in the underwriting room at Lloyd’s building and observe the negotiation of contracts between an underwriter and many brokers (contextual interviews). It has been an important part of the process to understand better the current process of working and see where we can bring improvements. We also witnessed how interactive and effective, face to face negotiation really is, and why risk professionals value it.
Broker iPad app (iOS native)
Carrier iPad app (iOS native)
Broker iPhone app (iOS native)
Carrier iPhone app (iOS native)
Broker Desktop app (web browser)
Carrier Desktop app (web browser)
Microsoft Word Add-On (Windows)
File uploader digitiser (web browser)s
Problem definition and ideation
Prototyping medium and high fidelity
Usability planning and testing
Usability evaluations and reports
System Usability Scale questionnaire
Design project management
User interface design
UI specifications and guidelines
As Whitespace enters the market the work has just begun. There is a huge effort as part of the London Market Target Operating Model (LM TOM) to digitise the market, and insurtech innovators could contribute to making the London market sustainable and competitive for the years to come.
Are you interested in designing a digital product in the insurance space? Contact us office@2xUX.com