International insurance broker Marsh is working with IBM to develop a commercial blockchain solution that will allow businesses to certify that the contractor they are about to hire has the proper, up-to-date insurance coverage necessary to begin work.
The solution will be built on Hyperledger Fabric, an open-source permissioned blockchain framework, using IBM Blockchain Platform, a cloud-based blockchain application development solution, Marsh said in a statement yesterday, April 16, 2018.
Insurance standards organization ACORD will provide input on the project, and Dallas-based ISN Software Corporation, which supplies contractor and supplier management services, will be the first client to use the new solution.
Marsh is aiming to solve an important problem. Businesses often hire contractors, vendors and other third parties to work for them or provide services, but before doing so, they need to know that the vendor has proper liability insurance, so the business is covered in the event something goes wrong or a vendor performs substandard work.
Typically, a client will request a certificate of insurance (COI), also known as an ACORD certificate, which is a document that has all the information on it to show a client has up-to-date insurance coverage. The problem with PDFs or paper documents is they can be faked. Documents can can also get misplaced, lost or damaged.
Blockchains, on the other hand, are nearly impossible to tamper with. By putting proof of insurance on the blockchain, parties that need evidence of insurance can ideally trust the coverage is up to date and historically correct. Marsh said it expects its blockchain solution to allow clients to speed up necessary business functions such as hiring contractors and transferring risk, while increasing coverage certainty.
“Marsh sees great opportunity in leveraging blockchain technology to better serve our clients by maximizing efficiency and creating new opportunities in the insurance value chain,” said Sastry Durvasula, chief digital officer at Marsh.
Sandip Patel, general manager, insurance industry, at IBM, believes that simplifying the insurance verification process is a key business enabler. “This is an ideal example of how blockchain can be used on a much broader scale to drive real business results,” he said.
Currently in the pilot stage, Marsh’s new blockchain network is expected to go into production later this year. ISN will be the first Marsh client to try out the solution, putting its contactors’ policies on the ledger for hiring businesses to check.
“The insurance industry has been dependent on paper certificates of insurance, manually populated by an insurance agent,” said Brett Parker, technical insurance lead, at ISN. “By digitizing the policy information, we can streamline the process saving our customers time to focus on their core competencies.”
Amy Castor is a full-time freelance writer and researcher who enthusiastically follows Bitcoin and Ethereum. She has been writing about technology for nearly two decades. You can follow her @girlandgrowl on Twitter.