Google Cloud’s Walsh: Insurers increasingly embracing cloud and AI technologies

Google Cloud’s Nigel Walsh has called on more insurers to follow their peers in embracing cloud technology as part of a strategy of streamlining business practices.

Walsh told The Insurer TV he had already experienced a shift, with the industry now more eager to update its processes with digital tools and services.

He said this trend was likely to continue, with the insurance industry expected to develop more specialised cloud and AI products that could help insurers to better assess their risk landscape.

“Insurance is an industry built on data, and given that, it's a great industry for us to leverage AI of all facets,” he said.

Walsh considers the industry an ideal candidate for cloud technologies and AI-based products, with a 2022 McKinsey study having described the shift to the cloud as a “generational opportunity” for insurers.

“Insurance has always had a reputation of being slower than other financial services in many cases, and I think this is true also for how we interact with the cloud,” he said.

“But over the last couple of years, we've seen people go from ‘Should I be in the cloud?’ to ‘How do I get there faster?’

“The question that we had five years ago was: ‘Do I need to do this or not?’ This has pretty much gone away in its entirety, and now the conversation is very much about ‘How do we get there faster in the most effective way, with the right things to give us the agility to serve our clients better?’"

Google Cloud is currently working with a range of carriers across the world, ranging from large players such as Generali and CNA to smaller start-ups.

The cloud company has also collaborated with Munich Re on a type of machine learning called semi-supervised learning, which researchers found could lower the cost of vision model training.

The tech giant has also worked with Munich Re on a project to accelerate disaster response using generative AI.

“In Munich Re's case it's very much about visual AI and how we're using imagery to understand the impact of, in this instance, natural catastrophe or flood, to work out what the impact is, and how we get resources to get claims paid out quicker than we would have done previously.”

Google Cloud also partnered with Munich Re and Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty a few years ago on a cyber diagnostic tool and insurance product.

Making insurance lovable

“My personal mission has always been to make insurance lovable. Here at Google, I am on a mission with our clients and our partners to work out how we bring that to life,” Walsh continued.

“Insurance people are the most passionate about what we do, and in my mind, nothing moves in society without insurance. Our purpose is unbelievable, I'm truly behind it, and that's why I love it,” he said.

However, Walsh acknowledged that for many, insurance is simply a “necessary evil”.

“What I'd love to do is change that attitude at a very early age to say, actually, this is all the good that insurance does in the world.

“We need to do a better job of telling the story about what we enable and how we do it.”

Watch this 20-minute video to learn more about:

  • How the insurance industry is embracing cloud technologies
  • Why insurers could benefit from AI tools
  • How the cloud could better serve many aspects of the insurance value chain
  • Walsh’s take on the future of insurance