Access for captives on cards as Swiss Re expands international programme platform

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions has told Commercial Risk that its international programme platform is set to expand to new brokers, insurers and lines of business, while potentially offering direct access to risk managers and captive owners.

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions announced in January that Uniqa Group was the latest company to sign up to its digital PULSE platform for international programme business. Under the agreement, the Austrian insurer will also use Swiss Re Corporate Solutions’ global network and fronting services.

The deal takes the total number of organisations using PULSE to 12 – ten insurers and two broker networks. Nine of the carriers also use Swiss Re’s carrier network, which is able to issue local policies in around 150 countries. Cover is issued on Swiss Re paper in 30 of these countries with the rest written by network partners.

Swiss Re entered the primary international programme market in 2016, launching its own network and platform in 2019. In a break from rivals, the group soon began to offer its international programme technology platform to other carriers and brokers as a fee-based third-party service. In addition, network services are provided to insurers. PULSE users now include Japanese insurer Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance, German insurer Württembergische and Finnish insurer LocalTapiola, among others.

Swiss Re also provides PULSE on a software-as-a-service basis to brokers. In 2020, European broker network BrokersLink became the first network to sign up, followed by The Worldwide Insurance Network Group (WING) in 2022. Further deals with brokers are in the pipeline, said Ian Long, head of international programmes proposition at Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.

“Through our agreements with BrokersLink and WING, somewhere in excess of 150 brokers are now using the platform. We are hoping to soon announce the very first standalone broker purchasing access,” he told Commercial Risk.

The platform enables brokers to digitise international programme information, making it easier to share it with customers through the portal. It also improves communication across broker networks.

Long expects more carriers and brokers to license PULSE. “We absolutely aim to continue growing… in terms of steady growth of our PULSE and network services, and making sure that we aim for more simple and straightforward policies, because that is the best way to leverage the technology and ensure service delivery to our customers,” he said.

But Long explained that demand from insurers to join PULSE and the Swiss Re Corporate Solutions network currently exceeds capacity.

“On the broker side, we see far stronger growth potential in the short term; as a pure technology and platform play, it is something we are able to scale more quickly,” he added.

And Long sees opportunities to extend PULSE directly to corporate buyers and captive insurers.

“We have been exploring offerings that may be beneficial for inhouse brokers. That is a potential area of innovation if we can leverage the technology for insureds in managing their own programmes and portfolios,” he said.

Swiss Re has continued to build out the PULSE platform since its launch, increasing the scope of data that can flow through the system and avoiding rekeying. It has also introduced a customer portal and expanded the range of risks supported on the platform, adding financial lines, engineering and construction to the original property and casualty offering.

Corporate Solutions is in discussions with platform users about adding further lines of business. “There is interest in marine and cyber, and potentially for the broker market, life and global employee benefits as well,” Long said.

The success of PULSE has exceeded Swiss Re’s initial three year targets, he added. “The idea behind the initial setup was to position us as an incubator. The aim for Corporate Solutions was to explore opportunities to leverage our internal assets and bring innovation to the market, refining the product offering as we learn,” said Long.

Swiss Re is also now looking to leverage application programming interface (API) technology that enables systems to communicate and exchange data. “We are just exploring the opportunities to build these with brokers, carriers and network participants at the moment, and are looking to exploit further. So it will become easier for brokers and carriers [using PULSE] to share data between their existing platforms and PULSE,” said Long.

Progress on increasing international programme transparency and efficiency has been slow, with most of large players seeing technology as a competitive advantage, according to Long. “It remains an oligopoly market, and there is a desire to improve operational efficiency. We aim to take a more open and broader view of the market… Our vision is to adopt ecosystem thinking and move more towards an open platform,” he said.

Swiss Re developed its PULSE technology to help regional carriers and brokers broaden their international programme offerings. It also aimed to reduce inefficiencies in a market that has historically struggled to exchange information effectively between parties.

In addition to open and transparent systems, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions developed ONE Form, a globally standardised property policy that forms a core part of network services offered to insurers.

“For large national players, the barriers to entry into the international programme market have been too high. For brokers, they risk losing customers if they cannot look after the international needs of their customers as they continue to grow,” said Long.

“What we offer does start to reduce the barriers of entry to the international programme market. International programmes can be seen as too complicated and expensive for large national and regional insurers, so in reducing to that friction, we expand the global programme market by making them cheaper, easier and more accessible,” he said.

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