Constantia aims to buck the bots through new Ami partnership

At a time when disintermediation and the digitalisation of sales and administration processes have become pervasive in the insurance market, intermediary-focused insurer Constantia Insurance says it plans to outgun larger insurance players by keeping human-on-human interactions a key feature of its claims and administration processes.

In early March 2022, Constantia announced its partnership with new personal lines underwriting manager Ami, which provides the well-established insurance firm with access to a full suite of personal lines products focused on the traditional and high net-worth market segments.

Constantia has traditionally focused on short-term, life and health assurance, and is one of only a handful of South African insurance groups to have three insurance licenses; one for non-life and two for life.

Constantia Insurance CEO Peter Todd tells The Insurance Directory that Constantia’s alignment with Ami– headed up by industry stalwart Christelle Colman – forms part of its long-term goal of leveraging technology that complements and enables the broker rather than it being used to replace the broker.

“This is not to say that there is not a place for digital channels. But we’re quite clear and focused on our strategy of supporting intermediation,” he clarifies.

Ami’s technology will allow brokers to offer a better quality of service to clients and signals a return to a more human-centric approach to administrating and processing claims.

“For me, it’s a simple strategy for our business – to get the best people in the industry, partner with them and create an environment where we’re able to support them. If they’re successful, then by definition, we’ll be successful in that model. With Christelle’s track record in personal insurance, she’s undoubtedly the best in the market when it comes to personal lines. Partnering with her also fills a void in our business,” he says.

Since inception in 1952, Constantia’s focus has largely been on specialist lines of business, with the recent Ami pairing now allowing it to scale its personal line offering.

With both businesses intermediary-focused, the collaboration is set to enhance personal interaction for clients. This goes against the grain in terms of recent market trends, which have seen larger insurers invest considerably in technology and disintermediation, thus shifting towards administration and claims processes that take clients on a digital communication ‘journey’ via a Bot rather than interacting directly with another human.

“Our partnership technology is much more about supporting the intermediary in being able to deliver services and give advice to their client. It’s less about interposing the technology between them and their clients: it’s no longer about how apps are used to sell more policies, but rather how can they enable a better service to clients. That’s a common and shared vision between ourselves and Ami,” Todd notes.

Unlike larger insurers, which are heavily invested in proprietary legacy technology systems, he says Constantia’s lack of established legacy technology platforms affords the business agility in rolling out more user-friendly, innovative technology stacks.

“We’re not hamstrung by the legacy thinking of some of the larger organisations, which often have huge IT departments that have done business in the same way for years and are married to their platforms and technology.

“We’re a fairly blank piece of paper in this regard, which means we can be far more creative in adopting many of the new technologies that are out there. We believe technology in the insurance market is an enabler; it’s not the end solution,” he tells The Insurance Directory.

While Todd says it will continue to seek partnerships with aligned service providers such as Ami as part of a broader strategy of partnering with complementary businesses, it is not in the game of positioning multiple underwriting managers in such a way that they are forced to compete with one another.

“We’ve recently brought on other specialised underwriting managers and there are others in the pipeline, so we’ll bring on more partners where we feel like their technical skills are in short supply,” he concludes.

Ami is expected to launch to market in August 2022.