InsTech London's Ali Smedley speaks to Alun Jones, Chief Commercial Officer at Addresscloud, about his background in satellite imaging, the challenges around location data and how Addresscloud's offerings can help insurers.
Ali: What is the history of Addresscloud?
Alun: Addresscloud was founded in 2016 by CEO Mark Varley. He previously worked at RSA, so was familiar with the challenges insurers face managing addresses. As a result of this, he created a cloud platform for managing large UK address databases.
Ali: What is your background and role at Addresscloud?
Alun: I joined Addresscloud in 2020 to take up the new role of Chief Commercial Officer. Previously, I co-founded The GeoInformation Group, which was acquired by Verisk in 2016. I subsequently worked as Director of UK Underwriting Products at Verisk. I have a PhD in Satellite Imaging of active volcanoes and previously lectured in Geographical Information Systems (GIS). This foundation in geography has helped myself and our clients better understand the location problems we face today.
Ali: What problems does Addresscloud seek to solve around location data?
Alun: For insurers accuracy is important. Assessing risk at an address level rather than a postcode level improves the accuracy of pricing. For example, an average UK postcode contains around 12 properties. These 12 properties may not face the same peril risks, such as flood and subsidence. Addresscloud provides cloud-based software services to help clients locate and describe addresses with rooftop level accuracy. This improves their pricing and underwriting decisions.
Nevertheless, many challenges exist to operationalising address level risk selection at the point of underwriting. These include errors created in the initial manual input of an address, re-entry of policy data and the large volume of address data that often exists within insurers and their delegated authorities. In the UK there are 29 million residential addresses and 2 million commercial addresses. The Royal Mail makes up to 5,000 updates on its address database everyday. Keeping up to date with these changes is a challenge. Through Addresscloud’s new AddressFirst database, addresses are available instantaneously with monthly updates and by the start of 2022, daily updates.
Ali: What other services does Addresscloud provide?
Alun: Location is important, but knowing what risks that address faces is also important. To complement our address service (Match API) we deliver an Intelligence service (Intel API). This provides information on a wide range of perils such as flood, subsidence and crime, all sourced from commercial providers and government sources. To enhance this further the Intelligence API also encompasses information on the property itself, such as its type, age, footprint area and rebuild cost. Mark Varley discussed this in more detail on our InsTech London podcast with Matthew in late 2020.
Ali: What third party companies does Addresscloud work with?
Alun: We work with private companies that provide verified property data, such as Hometrack. We use government databases including the Ordnance Survey’s AddressBase and also use the Royal Mail address database (PAF). In terms of hazard data, we use data from Terrafirma and JBA Risk Management.
Ali: How do clients use Addresscloud’s services?
Alun: Insurers such as RSA have used Addresscloud’s API to provide address lookup and validation services for their customers. We are already seeing our insurance customers adopt our data to remove differential pricing ahead of the ‘price walking’ rules being put in place by the FCA at the start of 2022. Aggregators such as Comparethemarket use our API for prefilling property characteristics such as type of house, age and number of rooms. Flood Re, the service that determines whether a property can be ceded to the government's reinsurance programme, has recently chosen us as its platform delivery mechanism.
Ali: What does the future hold for Addresscloud?
Alun: We are seeing a growing demand for fast, scalable and reliable cloud-hosted services that can be consumed by insurers at a relatively low cost. The insurance industry is where our future is most aligned. Addresscloud aims to continue improving the underwriting and pricing process.
Ali: Why did Addresscloud join the InsTech London community?
Alun: Addresscloud has been a fan of InsTech London for a long time. We value the connections that have been made through the community and how this has raised our profile. We would like to connect with technology companies, startups and innovators within the bigger insurance companies.
For more information on Addresscloud, go to addresscloud.com.