Company: Symbility Solutions
PROFIT 500 Rank: 159
Five-year growth percentage: 412
Chief Executive Officer: James Swayze
Symbility Solutions CEO James Swayze says his company may have been ahead of its time when it first created its mobile tools to help the insurance industry collect data from the field. “We had to push data and pull data in what was then a 1G environment. Just a step beyond dial up,” Swayze says. “Everyone we showed it to back in those days said, ‘Wow! This is the future. It’s just not for me today.’ And then to compound that, we had a cloud-based communication hub, which is to say we were running data over our servers and a lot of insurance companies wouldn’t do business with us because of that. They felt that it was taboo to take the data off their servers. It wasn’t protected by their firewalls,” explains Swayze.
That was in 2004, three years before the iPhone was introduced to the market. A lot has changed since then. Though slow out of the gate, more and more, the insurance industry is utilizing mobile tools and the cloud. “I think the insurance industry as a whole, when compared to the other financial pillars of the business world, have always been the laggards, the Amish, when it comes to technology adoption. So they finally recognize that this is not sustainable. The only way they can improve the efficiencies of their business and try to generate better returns for their shareholders is by creating a lot more internal efficiencies,” he says.
With Symbility’s software, an adjuster can go to the scene of a loss, collect information about a claim, including photos, and send that data to the insurer. “Through our cloud app we can collect that data that’s been disseminated from the field, sent over wirelessly, send notifications out to the other [industry] participants, and allow everybody in that ecosystem to be working off a single electronic claim file,” explains Swayze. “By having everyone working off the same file in parallel, it creates a great many efficiencies, speeds up the process, reduces any duplication of data entry, and creates a sense of accountability.”
Swayze says one way his company has differentiated itself from the market is by charging by the claim. “For us, it was a surefire way to stand behind our product, such that, [if you] adopt our product, yes it will cost you a little bit of money to have your people trained, but when you use it you’ll be paying when you process a claim. If it’s not working then you won’t [pay].”
Symbility is working to expand its software offerings in markets around the world. It is currently offered in Canada, the United States (where the majority of its customers are), the UK, Germany and South Africa, and Swayze says his company is currently working on Australia, France and other European countries, and looking at opportunities in Asia and South America. “In every market that we’ve spoken with thus far, there is no incumbent provider of software. It’s the Wild West.”
Swayze says the company is also working to promote the software’s benefits to brokers. The software includes a desk user account, which enables the insurance company to configure the view of the claims data for anybody, including the broker. “The ultimate goal was that the policyholder be on the view of that claim process, but the first step would be the broker,” he says. “When you have a loss, the first person you typically call is your broker, because that’s who you bought [the policy] from.” More often than not though, Swayze says, this call is disappointing because the broker has little information on the claims file. “The broker [wants] to be involved. They want to help you. They want to provide added value. So if they had a view into the claims process, then they could be managing expectations on your behalf.”
Copyright 2013 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the November 2013 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine