It's the season of goodwill and insurance award dinners and they come thick and fast in December scattering trophies to all and sundry in an orgy of industry self-congratulation.  It's easy for something properly deserving of recognition to slip through the net. 

I was therefore delighted to hear that REG (UK) were awarded Start Up of the Year 2016 at the Insurance Times Awards last week. Not read all about it? No neither have I. The only place I can find it mentioned outside the gated walls of Insurance Times itself is by REG (UK) themselves!

The reason I'm pleased to see something like REG(UK) win is that it's recognition that a good start-up doesn't have to be doing something sexy and eye-catching to deserve an award.  2016 has seen something of a pre-occupation with things like blockchain,  IoT and mobile orientated tools that promote millennial engagement with insurance (what do millennials insure anyway?). These will all be key tools of the future, but there's mundane stuff to sort out too.

REG do something really boring. They monitor brokers for insurers (or wholesale brokers/agents) and alert them if something goes wrong. They take information feeds from relevant sources to ensure that the brokers are at all times compliant and fit to trade with - FCA approval, Companies House status, credit rating, sanction checking etc. All you do is register, provide REG with a list of the UK brokers you deal with together with their FCA number and they set you up the feeds which drop into a nominated email account at your end. Simple, obvious, sensible, relevant, cost effective and live. What's not to like?  Encouragingly, there are plans to extend the offering into coverholder management and monitoring in 2017. 

Down in the guts of the insurance world there are lots of obvious inefficiencies in the way we do things, particularly in the way we collect, exchange and use data and money between ourselves. There's a pressing need for solutions to those many problems using the same fresh, simple pragmatism that REG(UK) has bought to counter-party monitoring. 

I accept that this space is not where you give birth to little unicorns, but there is no reason why you can't create businesses every bit as valuable as say a flight cancellation app or a virtual wallet to store personal policy details and issue reminders. The boring stuff around regulation, compliance, spreadsheet management, needs attention and investment too. It may not be set the dinner table conversation alight or grab the headlines, but that applies to much of what goes on in the insurance world and provides no reason not to support and invest in the innovators who seek to tackle these issues. 

Talking of grabbing the headlines, do you think I can claim a non Insurance Times reader world exclusive for the REG(UK) news?  Nothing at all on social media. Surely an insurance publication that doesn't understand social media is like an insurer that doesn't get InsurTech - at the mercy of smarter competitors.