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Opal: The jewel in AEGIS London’s digital crown

The digital platform enables users to quote and bind London market products making the difference between winning and losing an account...

What is Opal?

Opal is AEGIS London's online quote-and-bind platform, first launched as a proof of concept in 2016. In its first year of business, we wrote around $15 million of premium for a relatively niche property product – a wind deductible buydown. A terrorism product and a stock-throughput product soon followed and we have subsequently moved into the Canadian market with E&O and Vacant Land. Opal was re-platformed in 2020 to enable us to quickly add new products, handle a larger volume of premium and, perhaps most importantly, to add API connectivity. We now write about $120 million of premium through the new platform with the aim of reaching $250m in the near future.

Why did AEGIS London create Opal?
As a Lloyd’s syndicate, AEGIS London has always written lot of SME business, particularly in the delegated property space. We decided that we could digitise a large portion of this business, with the aim of making London market products more accessible to our US coverholders and MGAs without removing anyone from the distribution chain. A lot of US business has historically stayed domestically because London markets thought it was too small to handle or London was too slow to respond. We concluded that if we created an online platform and made it accessible and speedy for US brokers to use, we could attract accretive premium to both AEGIS London and the London market.

How do your customers access Opal?
The front-end of the Opal platform is the site the brokers see. Brokers can either use our platform to log on to our system or create their own platform and then simply link into our back-end platform, where the rating engine and document production are held. We are fairly agnostic as to how premium comes into the system and access can be white-labelled so that policy documentation is delivered with any brand or logo. We are seeing an increasing number of brokers utilising our API as they build out their single platform accessing multiple products.

What kind of clients use the platform?
We work with US wholesalers, US MGAs and London brokers. There is always a London broker involved in the chain because, while we're trying to make the London market more accessible and we often have close working relationships with users in the US, the premium still flows through London brokers. They're an important part of helping to market the product and get it out to as many users as possible.

What products are available on the platform?
We now have four products on Opal. There are two US products: the wind deductible buydown which is the largest product and a terrorism offering which gives clients an alternative to TRIA in the US. We then have two Canadian products: a vacant land and property coverage and an E&O product. We are looking to roll out 3–5 new products a year with a new product in the personal lines space launching in April.

Are you planning to expand the Opal product suite?
We have been expanding our digital team with the hire of a colleague to focus on the development of new products. The existing product suite developed out of those lines we felt were relatively simple to digitise and we will continue to look at books of business internally that we feel are capable of being digitised. However, we are also looking to work with brokers on additional product lines that could be successful online or which would fill a perceived gap in the market.
With around 750 brokers logging on to Opal, we’re also considering providing distribution for third-party products via the platform. That includes talking to MGAs about putting their own products onto the platform. We want Opal to become a hub in its own right so brokers can log on to the platform and access 10-plus US products, for example, in addition to the two we already offer.


What benefits does the Opal platform provide both to AEGIS London and your clients?

The platform enables us to perform better data analysis. We receive a live data feed from all our products that we can use to improve rating and better manage our aggregates; it effectively gives us instant feedback on what's happening in the market. It also allows us to automate large parts of the underwriting process, particularly for coverholders and MGAs. We carried out a survey in 2023 of all our users to establish what they valued most in Opal and 75% of the responses cited speed as the most important thing.
That automation really helps them, because the ability to get instant quotes and to bind them instantly is the difference between losing a renewal and retaining an account. Instant access is the biggest selling point of Opal – and there is the added bonus that it produces all the documents.


How else are you looking to improve customer engagement with Opal?
We currently have five connections to the platform via API, and that’s one area that is going to be a big push for us. We are actively looking to connect to broker platforms with multiple products in one place and to connect via API to some of the big London market wholesalers. It’s about keeping that speed of access at the forefront of every product and ensuring brokers don't end up having to key in data for five different products from five different platforms. We're also looking to digitise parts of the claims process as well. We have created a claims portal which enables retail brokers to notify us of losses more quickly and connects them directly with a TPA.

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