Verisk’s Shavel: Acquisitions key to future growth strategy

As Verisk continues to seek out expansion opportunities, acquisitions will play a big part in the company’s growth trajectory, president and CEO Lee Shavel has told The Insurer TV.

Shavel, who served as CFO before taking the helm in May last year, said acquisitions are a key part of the data and analytics company’s growth strategy.

He explained that the firm scans the start-up scene for small emerging firms that have created solution-based products relevant to insurers.

“And what we bring is the ability to take that product and idea, invest more in it, and typically accelerate its adoption by the industry, because a large insurance company feels more comfortable typically knowing that Verisk is behind it, we're backing it, we're investing it, than a startup that may have more operational risk associated with it,” said Shavel.

Post-acquisition, Verisk is then able to bolster such products with datasets and connectivity that it has expertise in.

Shavel also explained that many of the products and solutions that have been successfully rolled out in the US, should be made more readily available elsewhere.

“We do believe that a lot of the services that we have provided in the US, where we predominantly serve the US property and casualty insurance industry, have applicability, particularly in more developed markets, like Europe, like the UK, where we've had the largest presence,” said Shavel. “So, we'll look to bring and adapt some of our products there.”

But Verisk is also seeking risk opportunities in underdeveloped risk areas in the US.

One area ripe for development is the life, health and travel risk sector, which Shavel said is much more of a global product currently.

“The ability for Verisk to focus solely on insurance has enabled us to really think beyond the products that we are already offering the industry, and do more,” he said.

“We focus on understanding what our client needs at a strategic level, and then utilise our scale, our centrality, our technological expertise, to be able to design products that meet the needs for the insurance industry,” he explained.

This, according to Shavel, has included investments in new technologies, like GenAI and building new platforms for the insurance industry to interact on, for example, Verisk’s Specialty Business Solutions platform in London.

“We've not only built new platforms, but we've supplemented it by acquiring other businesses, so that's an investment in how we serve the industry,” he said.

New risk areas and talent

Another focus area for Verisk involves gauging political and social risk.

“We also are beginning to analyse and provide information to our clients on dimensions of social risk and political risk through our Verisk Maplecroft subsidiary, because we have often found those to be magnifiers of potential physical damage in natural disaster situations, like earthquakes,” said Shavel.

One example of this phenomenon is in Turkey, Shavel said, where the recent earthquakes were more severe due to political aspects of the region that impacted construction codes and in some cases magnified risk.

But one of the biggest challenges of this era may be talent acquisition, according to Shavel. The firm is focused on communicating the industry’s value creation to a broader, more diverse subset of potential candidates.

“A lot of businesses couldn't exist if it weren't for the insurance industry,” said Shavel. “I think communicating that message is important as we attract people into the industry.

The firm is also recruiting individuals from artificial intelligence, data science, and the technological sectors.

Watch the 10-minute video with Verisk’s Lee Shavel to hear more on:

  • Verisk building new programs, utilising Gen AI
  • Verisk acquiring other businesses
  • Firm focused on analysing social and political risk for clients
  • Talent acquisition one of the biggest challenges for the (re)insurance industry