Shifting social media connections to personal ones

thomas and stephen

There are good, bad and neutral parts of social media.  

I used to only participate on Facebook and Instagram.  I used these primarily to connect with old and new friends, share pictures of travel, food and whatever else was cool in my day to day experiences.

I became really active on LinkedIn last year.  I did this to start connecting with and engaging more with the Insurance and Insurtech community.  I joined Twitter two weeks as well, after avoiding it for quite some time (let’s connect there if we aren’t already!)

Commenting and liking posts is one thing.  Actually picking up the phone (or meeting someone in person) to find out more about the people you interact with online is another.

I have started doing this more and more over the past few months.  I have read some interesting opinions and posts and have been inclined to send them a personal message.  In some cases we have spoken by phone and a few times, in person.  

Naturally, this has helped to really build a relationship with a person, more so than just ‘liking’ what they put out there.  

I encourage people to do more of this.  

If they don’t reply, that’s ok.  You can keep them as just a social media connection…after all, do you want to engage with someone that doesn’t want to engage with you? (I know this is more of a dating link, but the same concepts hold true for business relationships too).

I share this because, two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet someone in person that I have been speaking to for some time now.  We connected through LinkedIn and had numerous Skype chats, emails, and messages sharing personal stories and getting opinions on what’s happening in the space.  

This person happened to be in Los Angeles, where I live, and had travelled all the way from Munich.

This person, is Thomas Verduzco-Weisel.  Thomas and I had a great chat over coffee.  So much so, that our chat compelled me to share his story and some of the current projects he is working on.  

Thomas’ background

Thomas spent 18 years of his professional career with Munich Re.  The majority of his time spent there was in and around claims.

‘I have always enjoyed claims management tremendously. It’s where the abstract promise of the risk transfer is put to the test – with a direct impact on the bottom line of any insurer. My key takeaway from working in claims has been – Don’t miss the opportunity to build trust before a loss.’

His time with Munich Re allowed him to work in the US and Singapore for 2 years each, after which he returned to Munich for his most recent roles as a Claims Innovation Consultant and Business Developer for Remote Sensing.

‘I can only recommend living and working abroad. Even if you think you are open-minded, your horizon will still always be expanded. The roles of reinsurers, insurers, brokers and adjusters and how they interact are very different when you compare Southeast Asia, Europe and the US. Being a global player requires a challenging degree of adaptability.

Also, customers have different expectations towards insurance. One thing I would say is the same around the world: Insureds lack good understanding of their coverage and leaving that moment of truth to claims management is not the wisest choice.’

After returning back to Munich, even working in new areas such as Claims Innovation and Remote Sensing, Thomas realized something was missing.  ‘I outgrew my job description there and wanted to learn things on the outside and help some startups grow.  I saw this as something I could focus on for the next 3-5 years and perhaps take my learnings and experience back to an incumbent at some point’.

With that, Thomas left Munich Re in June 2018 to ‘accelerate his own digital transformation‘ and start working on more of his own projects, as well as to join Shift Technology.  

Shift Technology

Shift_Logotype_Miniature_Background_5134C9_RGB

Shift Technology is a SaaS solution using AI to detect Insurance fraud.  Their proprietary AI algorithm is applied at the individual claim level to detect the most suspicious cases and flag them to a claims handler.  These cases are given a fraud score, primary suspicion scenario and multiple fraud indicators to identify the specific fraud issues and provide direction to the claims handler of how to tackle the investigation.

The platform also has network analytic capabilities which identify suspicious relationships between entities in the insurers data, and detect and surface large organized fraud networks for investigation.

In an era where speed of payments is necessary and fraudsters are learning how to ‘game the system’, fraud detection services like Shift are of utmost importance.

Thomas is currently working as the Global Claims Automation Solution Specialist at Shift Technology.  

‘I am very excited about the opportunity to work with Shift Technology as I can work with a truly talented, global team and leverage my experience in claims management, innovation and business development.’

Shift currently has 60+ clients around the world in Europe, Asia, Africa and North America.  While Shift is currently focused on fraud detection, they also have plans to expand their product offerings.

‘One of the revelations of working with so many Insurers in different markets, especially on claims, is you get to see their end-to-end processes and that helps sharpen our understanding of how we can help support them as they innovate in this fast changing environment. Also, because we have already proven that we can scale, adapt and that our fraud solution works, we are fortunate that our customers entrust us with taking the next steps towards greater claims automation’.

I do expect some more exciting things to come from Shift now that Thomas has joined the team and is bringing his 18 years of claims experience along with him.  

Yet, Shift Technology is not Thomas’ only project.  He has also started two other companies Xchngr and Kiimo.

Xchngr and Kiimo

Xchngr

The Insurance industry has historically been focused on on 1-2 touch points; sales and claims.  The evolution of Insurance will be to provide more positive, meaningful touch points to customers to convince insureds to share their data with Insurers.

Xchngr does this by leveraging eSports, gaming and digital art installations to help insurers becoming appealing partners for their clients.

Kiimo

Kiimo is a mobile platform to match delivery demand and supply for last-mile delivery. This platform will develop new part-time, gig workers (called Kiimsters) to help deliver goods and make extra money.

The gig/sharing economy has created a new type of risk for Insurers to tackle and Kiimo will help to participate in this new value proposition.

How people with multiple hats manage

There has been a trend of many ex-industry executives moving out into to the startup and consulting world.  

Many of these folks are helping startups with their product-market fit as well as introductions to potential partners.  

This is something that Thomas and I discussed too, as it has been a space that I have also been operating in for the past year and a half.  

‘I see my projects as part of a bigger picture where I work on different aspects of transforming insurance. These projects can very well complement one another at some point in the future. If they don’t, then the fun and insights gained on this journey still merit their pursuit and can certainly be leveraged across the board.’

Summary

I am very grateful to have met Thomas in person.  It gave me the opportunity to learn more about another like-minded individual that was more than I could read in a LinkedIn profile.

More so than that, it allowed me to hear about a perspective from someone who has worked in different roles and markets (though some were the same!) than I have.  

Had I limited this connection (and others) to just a social media one, I may not have had the opportunity to hear these perspectives.

The beauty of social media is that it allows us to connect with and share ideas with people from around the world.  

It also opens the door to build a more personal connection; if one chooses to walk through it.  

Stephen Goldstein is an experienced Insurance executive and Insurtech dealmaker with a core focus on growing revenue, launching go to market initiatives and advising industry leaders.

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