Cybersecurity, Data and Gen AI: Vertafore CEO Keynote

Amy Zupon emphasized change and unprecedented investment in products, with a focus on three key industry trends.

(Vertafore CEO Amy Zupon on stage at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. Source: Vertafore.)

At this year’s Vertafore Accelerate user conference/NetVu Community gathering earlier this month at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, CEO Amy Zupon’s keynote address emphasized the company’s record investment in its products and focused on three key trends: the imperative of cybersecurity, the need to focus on data quality, and the opportunities and hazards of artificial intelligence in general, and Generative AI in particular.

Zupon, who was appointed CEO in 2016 as part of the acquisition of Vertafor by Bain Capital and Vista Equity Partners, noted that as she stood on the stage in early April 2024, the company was very different than it was six years ago. “Why are we investing record amounts right now?,” she said. “First and foremost, it’s because this independent agency channel is growing.”

The Imperative of Cybersecurity

Zupon noted that of the $861 billion in P&C premiums sold in the U.S. in 2022, approximately 87 percent of commercial lines premium and thirty eight percent of personal lines premium were placed by independent agents. “And this share is actually growing,” she stressed. “It’s up 3 percent over the last several years. What that says is more and more insurance premium is coming through this channel, which is awesome news for every single person in this room.”

Amy Zupon, CEO, Vertafore.

However, Zupon cautioned, as business is growing, it is also becoming more complicated. And as carriers are issuing more complex coverage, they are losing expertise to retirement. Thus, to maximize the growth opportunity, insurance carriers and distributors need technology to evolve to meet the challenge.

Zupon elaborated on how Vertafore is evolving to serve the industry through her discussion of trends. She began by noting that a cyber attack happened every 39 seconds during 2023. “That’s over 2200 cases a day,” she stressed. “The global cost of cybercrime is predicted to skyrocket past $3 trillion in 2023 alone.”

“It’s not just a trend impacting us here in insurance, but it’s impacting all industries,” she continued. “And if your technology partners are not talking to you about it, they should be. Right? You should know that at Vertafore, this is of the utmost importance to us. We have significant investments in this area to protect you and to protect us.”

Tackling the Challenges of Data Quality

While the insurance industry is sufficiently awake to the importance of data, it still struggles with challenges relating to its quality, Zupon suggested. “It’s hard to believe, but more than two thirds of all insurers claim that they find their own data to be inadequate,” she said. “All of us need to focus on quality data as job one. This means automating as much as possible to avoid manual data entry, manual mistakes.”

But to effectively automate data, it must be entered correctly the first time, Zupon insisted. “It means supplementing our data with valid source information so we’re not making mistakes,” she added. “It means auditing the quality of the data that you have. It is only then, team, that you, that we together, can start to use that data to drive your business forward.”

Better data management can result in the kinds of insights carriers and distributors have wanted to have better access to for many years. However, the industry should be looking for other advantages that technology is making possible, particularly prediction and the automation of business processes, such as renewal. “All this is possible with quality data, I think for everybody in this room,” she said.

Zupon concluded with what she characterized as the most discussed trend within and beyond the insurance industry today: artificial intelligence (AI).

“Simply put, artificial intelligence is a technology which enables computers to accomplish tasks that typically require a human’s intelligent behavior,” Zupon commented. “So, gathering data, gathering information, analyzing that data, and even making decisions.”

The predominant use of AI across industries is to augment human-led activities, Zupon said. She reported that Vertafore is using AI models, for example, in its RiskMatch application and in AgencyZoom CRM/sales suite.

With Gen AI Come Power and Responsibility

Vertafore has been using AI to augment human-led processes for years, but Generative AI has opened up new horizons, Zupon related. “Generative AI is a whole new animal…it is designed to actually let the computer create new content, generate new ideas, all based on patterns and data that it has learned and evaluated,” she said. “That has real power for us, but it also comes with extreme responsibility.”

Properly exploiting the technology requires addressing risks related to data protection, cybersecurity threats, ethical dilemmas and other challenges, she stressed. Those threats, she said, “are real, and this technology should not be leveraged without proper governance and infrastructure.”

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Anthony R. O’Donnell // Anthony O'Donnell is Executive Editor of Insurance Innovation Reporter. For nearly two decades, he has been an observer and commentator on the use of information technology in the insurance industry, following industry trends and writing about the use of IT across all sectors of the insurance industry. He can be reached at AnthODonnell@IIReporter.com or (503) 936-2803.

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