MetLife Australia wins tech award

Over the Christmas break, MetLife Australia's tech team took home an international award for its claims platform launched to Statewide Super's members last year.

MetLife chief information officer Tim Batten's team snagged a spot on ACORD's list of the top leaders in insurtech for 2018 for the re-released product, on December 18.

The insurer is the only Australian company to make the list compiled by the Association of Cooperative Operations Research and Development (ACORD). The 50-year-old organisation sets global data standards for insurers and runs as an industry owned non-profit.

Batten wins the award jointly with MetLife Australia's digital product manager Sourav Shah, who also sits on ACORD's Australian committee.

ACORD said MetLife Australia is an example of how innovation requires teamwork between business and IT.

"Batten is an experienced leader with a financial services, retailing, IT strategy, and telco background, while Shah has extensive experience in designing solutions and formulating product and content strategy. At MetLife, they have proven adept at utilizing new technologies to fulfill customer needs, including groundbreaking work on API plugins for the Australian market," it said in a statement.

Other winners on the list include EY's global vice chair Shaun Crawford, Insurify founder Snejina Zacharia and Startupbootcamp chief executive Sabine VanderLinder.

MetLife's tech team

Batten joined MetLife in 2015, after technology leadership roles at Westpac, NAB and Woolies. He has a master in computer systems engineering from Monash.

He runs a team of 100 technology professionals, spread across permanent, contractual and third-party professionals who are deployed for projects.

The ACORD award comes on the back of MetLife's re-release of its e-claims platform in August.

The first super fund to sign up was Statewide Super, allowing its 140,000 members to lodge and track insurance claims digitally.

MetLife is looking to rollout the system to other superannuation funds this year.

"The process took about six months, end to end," Batten told Financial Standard. "We weren't starting from the scratch but we did some good research on what could really accentuate the speed of claims processing."

The insurer had to work with the superannuation fund and its fund administrator to get client information and build back office APIs. However, the award-winning platform did not use any machine learning or artificial intelligence.

The team has done some initial investigations into AI, including into IBM Watson through its international teams. However, at this stage, the focus was on collecting claims information.

"It wouldn't be a far reach to say that the next phase would be to use this information," Batten said.

The focus this year for MetLife's Australia team will be to expand our API to cover a broader range of insurance claims functions, he said.

Read more: ACORDMetLife AustraliaStatewide SuperEYAssociation of Cooperative Operations ResearchIBM WatsonInsurifySabine VanderLinderShaun CrawfordSnejina ZachariaSourav ShahStartupbootcampTim BattenWestpacWoolies
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