The cloud-based broker portal. Commercial flood insurance based on the proprietary smart sensor. Our award-winning claims experience. All these things have one thing in common: they are driven by the product development efforts from across the whole team. Leading those efforts is Head of Product Nyasha Kuwana. We caught up with Nyasha to find out more about her process and what makes FloodFlash product development tick…
FloodFlash: What attracted you to the insurance industry?
Nyasha Kuwana: I moved to Japan after university to work as an English language teaching assistant. I was already a little fearful of all the natural catastrophes I had heard about which pummel those islands from earthquakes and tsunamis to earthquakes. So that’s when I first had an insurance policy in my name. When a colleague read the highlights of the policy to me, I was taken-a-back. I wondered why everyone wasn’t talking about this. I just loved the promise on those flimsy pieces of paper to restore me back to the same state in the event of a natural catastrophe. It was so powerful to me. That was the day I decided to work in insurance.
FF: How did you arrive at leading FloodFlash product development?
NK: I had been working as a consultant and was interested in assignments focused on closing the protection gap. Mostly I had focused on under-insured emerging markets. Someone who knew the founders suggested I would be a good fit for both me and the business. FloodFlash is on a mission to close the protection gap in mature and emerging markets. It also took me back to the genesis of my interest in insurance, catastrophe. In the end it was an easy choice for me to join.
FF: How have you found building a new product from the ground up?
NK: Actually, the product foundations were here when I arrived. The team had done a great job. So I can say I am building from the first floor up. It’s enjoyable because we have very little legacy so there are no internal constraints.
FF: What are the main challenges building a parametric product?
NK: It’s novelty. The concept is very appealing to customers but it’s often very new to them. Novelty is more of a handicap in insurance than you might think because we are offering a safety net to livelihoods. Some customers want a safety net that have been proven over years.
FF: If you could take anything from traditional insurance what would it be?
NK: Easy! The brand power. If we had the brand and trust of one of the traditional players, it would more than balance out against the novelty.
FF: Conversely, what do you think insurance could learn from FloodFlash?
NK: I think the industry could work more to exceed and not just meet customer expectations. The feedback we get from customers after a claim is phenomenal. It shows that we go beyond meeting expectations, we beat them. It’s really what pushes you to iterate and improve everyday.
FF: If you could change anything about the industry what would it be?
NK: I want to say its reputation. I truly believe in the social purpose of insurance. The vast majority of the time, as an industry, we play our role superbly. We do make mistakes but these weigh so heavily on the perception. I would like us to do better. It both about the quality of our execution and the stories we tell about the industry. Insurance shouldn’t be a grudge purchase.
FF: Do you think the role of the FloodFlash product development team will change over time?
NK: Yes. Certainly in size. Over time I want to grow a department that becomes a centre of excellence. At the moment the whole business plays a central role in product development. In the future we grow into a more structured approach where a specialised team of project managers will carry out the core role whilst drawing on the expertise of the wider business.
FF: What advice would you give to someone who’s starting out with a new parametric product?
NK: Keep it simple. I think there’s so much we can do with the data we have or to create a closer match between loss and the metric, but the more complex that is the more you have to explain it and the more it difficult it is to understand or engender trust because it starts to read a bit like the small print.
FF: What is your proudest moment at FloodFlash?
NK: When we paid a claim in full in 9 hours and 44 minutes. I think the product in insurance is the claim. For the client, it’s great when we deliver it, and even better when we deliver it with minimal fuss and in a minimal amount of time. It gives customer one less thing to think about, control and choice.
FF: Can you tell us anything you’re excited about for the future?
NK: I’m excited about our international expansion and taking what we have learnt in the UK to other markets.