Insurtechs need to get real and stop promising the world

Insurtechs need to get real and stop promising the world

Following a spate of insurtech failures, Rebecca Jones, CEO and co-founder of drone technology provider Iprosurv, argues that newcomers need to get real and stop promising the world.

Design or accident

Either by design or by accident, the insurtech community has been positioned as either the disruptors of, or in more recent years, the saviours of the insurance industry.

Which is handy because throughout 2020 it has become clear that however proud we are of our industry, there are huge issues that must be addressed, and quickly. So far, the industry has shown that it cannot find its own way out of the current situation – it needs the energy, the willingness to change and the know-how to make it happen that often only an outsider can bring.

But if the stars are aligned for incumbents and insurtechs to create a new future for the industry, why have we seen so many incomers stumble and fail in the last 12 to 18 months?

In a series of interviews with the founders of failed insurtechs, conducted by Oxbow Partners, every single one said the industry simply wasn’t ready for the change they were bringing and that their big idea hadn’t met current market needs.

Now that may be a catch-all to hide various other failures, but it is very revealing and starts to get to the root of why so many insurtechs fail. It’s fine to have a great idea and vision for the future of insurance but if it isn’t practical, isn’t actionable and doesn’t actually help those in today’s industry do things in a better way, then there is literally no point to it.

Grounded reality

Whatever insurtechs aim to do, it has to be grounded in reality to have any chance of being adopted, never mind changing the industry. It seems that too many have been too keen to take on all the problems facing insurance in one go, racing to be the one that delivers the game changer.

But that is like chasing the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – the game changer exists only in the minds of the deluded. Any new entrant into the market, whether they identify as an insurtech or not, will only make inroads if they are 100% focused on fixing the problems, or enhancing the opportunities, of today.

If they continue to focus on a too-distant future, they will continue to fail. And that doesn’t just damage their business – it damages anyone who seeks to apply new technology to traditional processes.

Because every time distrustful incumbents see another insurtech fail, it reassures them that they were right all along, that they should keep doing things the way they always have. And if that trend continues, we will all have failed.

It’s time for those of us who promise a better future for insurance to get real about those promises. We might see the potential that technology brings. We might get frustrated at those who don’t get it. And we might even think it’s all going to be a waste of time.

frustrations

But those frustrations are our failures, not the industry’s. They can be addressed by being realistic about the application of the technology we have and rather than taking a technology-first approach, we have to look at what isn’t working or where opportunities aren’t being exploited and only then seek out the technology or approach that can address it.

If insurtechs continue to promise the world and deliver only failure, a real opportunity to change insurance for the better will be lost, perhaps forever. Far better to rein in those ambitions and frustrations and get real about what insurance really needs.

We must first focus on today and only when we’ve cracked that, can we move on to tackling tomorrow.

Full blog and many more HERE in Insurance Post

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Drones, data and digital: the changing face of farming

Our traditional view of farming owes more to childhood tales than reality with the harvesting of data almost as important as the harvesting of crops. Greg Emerick, co-founder of Sentera, an agriculture mapping software firm, tells Iprosurv how the future of farming is digital and how Sentera and Iprosurv are bringing that future to UK farming.

Our view of agricultural is often a romantic one, jolly farmers tending to their crops or their livestock and being one with the nature that surrounds them. But that owes more to the storybook version of farmers we are given as children than it does to the reality of making a living from the land.

The real face of farming is big business, worth billions to the UK exchequer, employing hundreds of thousands of people and providing 64% of the food eaten in the UK alone. Farming is serious stuff with serious consequences if anything goes wrong.

And when you’re reliant upon Mother Nature’s benevolence for your success, you’ll try everything possible to reduce the impact of her volatility.

Farmers have been finding innovative ways to do just that from the earliest times. Managing water through irrigation began around 3100Bc; harnessing the energy of animals with the plough was introduced in 3500BC; getting the most out of the land with crop rotation started somewhere in modern Belgium in the 16th Century; the widespread commercial use of fertilisers on soil really kicked off in the late 19th Century; the mechanization of tractors and implements began in the mid 20th Century; and seed breeding and traits accelerated in the late 20th Century.

None of this will surprise you but the point is that farmers have always been innovating and today is no different.

The only real difference is the form that innovation takes. Where once it was strapping a plough to an ox, now it is strapping a high-tech light sensor to a drone to conduct an aerial survey. But the motivation is the same – using any means or tools at their disposal to profitably improve production and quality while reducing risk as much as possible.

Greg Emerick, co-founder of Sentera

This focus has manifested itself in the last ten years or so in precision agriculture which in short, is the practice of precisely managing nutrients, water, seed and other agricultural inputs to improve economic outcomes in a wider range of growing conditions.

But it also encompasses the use of automated farm equipment like tractors, guided by GPS systems. And farmers in the US, where Sentera is based, have really embraced this new approach to agriculture. They’re applying tech to gain insight into a range of issues including:


• electromagnetic soil mapping
• soil sample collection
• crop yield data collection
• remote sensing or aerial imagery
• crop or soil colour index maps
• soil types
• soil characteristics
• drainage level
• potential yields

Not quite the picture of the jolly farmer ploughing his fields in his trusty red tractor that we all grew up with. This is the face of modern agriculture and it is changing all the time. When you look at that list of applications for the tech being used, one thing is common throughout – data. Agriculture experts are always looking for new and more efficient ways to gather that data and, most importantly, to act on it.

At a basic level, Sentera gathers and analyses data. The way we gather that data is with simple-to-use sophisticated sensors on drones or satellites and analytic tools, but when you boil it down to the basics, that’s what we do.

Farmers and their advisors use the analysed data Sentera’s sensors gather to manage their operations more efficiently – be that to measure the germination and emergence of their seed, evaluate the health and viability of a young crop or produce weed maps for precision spraying applications.

But there are broader applications. For example, asset managers use it to track and understand the value of their investments and to predict crop yields allowing for better crop marketing decisions.

And insurance companies are using drone surveys to gather the data to provide a more accurate view of what they are underwriting and, when there is a claim, calculating the most accurate payment.

In fact, the data is completely agnostic – it can be used by a range of people involved in the sector but the most important thing, and the biggest benefit, is that everyone is working from the same data.

This approach to agriculture is becoming increasingly more common in the US. With our recent partnership with Iprosurv, we are now bringing this drone mapping capability to the UK.

Because what drones do is make the application of our technology so much easier and accessible for farmers and their affiliates. Top of the rage equipment, well trained and experienced pilots and a platform that allows for quick, efficient and accurate collection and delivery of the data, allows growers or analysts, asset managers or insurance companies, to act quickly and effectively, whatever the situation is.

It may seem like science fiction stuff now, but I can assure you that tech is the future of farming. In the US it’s the present and it is fast becoming the same in the UK.

Today, agriculture is the least digitised industry globally. However, it is quickly changing into a sophisticated, tech-enabled industry that has, since its inception, been all about innovation. Now is an excellent time to be adding these capabilities to your operation.

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Drones and data set to revolutionise the UK agricultural insurance market

Iprosurv, the UK’s leading aerial survey, inspection and mapping provider, has entered into partnership with US-based agricultural surveying specialists, Sentera, in a move that will change the way agricultural risks are managed and insured in the UK.

The deal sees the full Sentera suite of sensors, software and analytics made available to Iprosurv’s existing fleet of over 400 drones. The new capability, a UK first, will enable Iprosurv to bring a new level of analytical detail to crop management and provide growers with the insight necessary to react before a crop is lost.

Using colour and multi-spectral imagery to create a field ‘heat map’, the new tech gives growers and their insurers a level of data and insight that has not been available previously.

The sensors provided by Sentera determine the health of a crop by analysing the light reflected by the crop leaves, down to individual plants. This allows the software to map out the health profile of a crop, enabling growers and insurers to take immediate and targeted remedial action.

This allows insurers to underwrite at a much more granular level which should lead to more accurate premium pricing and claims pay-outs for growers.

Rebecca Jones, CEO and co-founder of Iprosurv, predicted that the new capabilities would fundamentally change the way agricultural risks in the UK are managed and how insurers understand and price them.

Rebecca Jones, CEO and co-founder of Iprosurv, predicted that the new capabilities would fundamentally change the way agricultural risks in the UK are managed and how insurers understand and price them.

“The traditional approach to surveying crops requires boots on the ground, visual inspection and often lengthy analysis of individual plants. This is time consuming and, more importantly, can often be inaccurate but this partnership with Sentera means our drones can provide growers and their insurers with a detailed analysis of a crop’s condition, and it’s likelihood of failure, within hours,” she said.

“With Sentera’s tech on board, our drones can provide minutely specific data on a crop’s condition, predicting the yield and extent of any damage. Farming is becoming more and more automated and specialised and this technology is a significant addition to the modernisation of farming in the UK.”

In a recent Proof of Concept flight, an Iprosurv drone fitted with Sentera’s tech was able to help a farmer’s insurer establish that liability for their crop failure lay with a neighbouring farmer, avoiding a potential £1.5m claim on their record in the process.

Commenting on the partnership and the implications for the UK agricultural sector, co-founder and Director of New Strategic Ventures at Sentera, Greg Emerick, said:

Commenting on the partnership and the implications for the UK agricultural sector, co-founder and Director of New Strategic Ventures at Sentera, Greg Emerick, said:

“We’re excited to be working with Iprosurv to deliver the precision and efficiency of Sentera’s technology to agriculture professionals. Sentera’s solutions provide insights to growers, agronomists and retailers driving economic value up across the agriculture sector by reducing costs and improving production.

“This same data is also being used to drive efficiencies for crop insurance claims adjusting and policy writing.”

The partnership is now live and the technology available to Iprosurv’s fleet of over 400 drones covering the UK. The capability will also be made available, via Iprosurv, to other drone operators on a commercial basis.

Contact For further information, contact martin.friel@iprosurv.com

About Iprosurv

Established in 2014, Iprosurv provides companies with the in-house capability of drone and data/media delivery services. Our CAMERA system and optimum drone operator platform provides bespoke services be that an on-demand, fully managed service to independent data/media delivery services.

Iprosurv is a pioneer in the provision of drone technology across a range of industries. Its current network of pilots, covering the entirety of the UK, use a proprietary system to record, store and deliver drone data to clients in a fast and secure way. From building surveys to flood response to assisting emergency services, Iprosurv continues to push the boundaries of how drones can be used in business.

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Eye in the sky: Iprosurv drones surveying buildings

Rebecca Jones and her partner realised the commercial potential of drones, but, as she tells Martin Friel, it needed a leap of faith before their high-flying business could take off.

Drones, those little machines we see buzzing above parks and fields across the UK, have something of an unsavoury reputation. Whether it’s as dealers of remote death in the Afghan and Iraqi wars or causing huge disruption at Gatwick airport, people, understandably, are nervous about them and what they might be doing up there.

But love them or loathe them, drones are increasing in popularity across the country with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) estimating there are around 130,000 registered drone operators in the UK, of which, nearly 6,000 are commercial.

The full story can be found here https://www.independent.co.uk

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CAA grants extended line of sight permissions to Iprosurv

Iprosurv has secured Extended Visual Line of Sight permissions from the Civil Aviation Authority for its network of remote pilots.

Standard aviation regulations insist that drones remain within the pilot’s sight at all times during flight which has historically limited flight distances to around 500m but Iprosurv’s new permissions allow its remote pilots to fly drones up to 2km from the launch site, with no direct line of sight required by the remote pilot.

The special permissions issued by the CAA have so far been granted to less than 1% of the nation’s commercial drone operators.Story continues belowAdvertisement

Commenting on the move, Iprosurv co-founder and CEO, Rebecca Jones, said: “We are delighted that the CAA has once again recognised the high level of training, safety and monitoring that takes place across our network of remote pilots and has seen fit to provide us with these new permissions.

“What may seem like a technicality is actually a huge leap forward in the capabilities of drones, particularly in the early assessment of disaster areas, assisting the emergency services and in the survey of inaccessible buildings.”

Adding: “These exemptions will allow us to stream footage and data direct to the client’s desktop even before a site has been physically visited.”

Currently, when faced with a large survey area, pilots often have to stop a flight once the limits of line of site have been reached, drive to the next launch site and start the process again.

Iprosurv says its new level of functionality will allow insurers, property managers and the emergency services to view the entire area and assess and triage the situation in real time.

Jones continued: “Drones have always had the potential to completely change the way we respond to disasters or large-scale surveys but having the ability to remain in the air for longer, going further distances and relaying real time data back to the client is a huge step forward.

“In granting these permissions, the CAA has shown a welcome willingness to help unlock the commercial and societal benefits of drones and we look forward to introducing our new capabilities to all of our clients.”

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Iprosurv integrate Altitude Angel into proprietary Case Management System

London, UK:  Altitude Angel, the world’s leading UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) technology provider, today announced survey and inspection provider, Iprosurv, has opted to embed Altitude Angel’s market leading data in its flight mapping solutions.

UKs largest drone supplier

Established in 2014, Iprosurv are regarded as a pivotal company in the promotion and implementation of many of the drone applications which we see across various markets and industries today. With a drone pilot contractor network comprising of field experts from across the UK, Iprosurv are able to provide clients from all industries with valuable visual and data insights.

Iprosurv will be embedding Altitude Angel’s pioneering Airspace Map, DroneSafetyMap, within its internal pilot portal to provide Iprosurv’s network of UAV operators with a ‘one-stop-shop’ platform for assessing the risk associated with each operation prior to arriving on site. A detailed area report and hazard score will also be generated through Altitude Angel’s innovative Area Report API, providing further safety information crucial for ensuring safety and mitigating risk.

Proprietary CMS

The platform will also assist the drone operators in submitting flight reports and will enhance visibility of drone operations through Altitude Angel’s GuardianUTM, as Iprosurv expands its operations across the UK and internationally.

On partnering with Iprosurv, Richard Ellis, Altitude Angel, Chief Business Officer, said: “The team at Iprosurv share the same entrepreneurial vision and values as Altitude Angel. We want our customers to be as well informed as possible and by integrating Altitude Angel data into its platform, we know Iprosurv will be getting the best possible data in the air and on the ground.”

Rebecca Jones, Iprosurv, founder and Chief Executive Officer, added: “We are delighted to have entered into this partnership with Altitude Angel.

National supplier

“As a national provider of drone services, Iprosurv needs to play its part in promoting the safe operation of drones by working with regulators and industry professionals. As part of that, we were looking for a partner who could provide accurate real time data to enhance our proposition in a way which not only complies with current regulations but helps shape future ones, and Altitude Angel ticked all the boxes.

Leading the pack

“As Iprosurv pushes ahead with its international ambitions, with Altitude Angel we will be able to do so in a way that is informed, safe and completely transparent with all the relevant regulators. We have always tried to push the boundaries of what commercial drones can do and this partnership is another step forward for Iprosurv and the wider commercial drone community.”

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A lift from drones to stand out from the crowd

The world of insurance broking can be cut-throat where every client win and reduction in premium counts, says Aston Lark’s head of claims and risk management, Richard Graham. But by embracing tech and, in particular, drones, he is confident that Aston Lark can steal a march on competitors.

Standing out from the crowd

Standing out from the crowd as a broker can be tough, despite what anyone might think. There are a finite number of businesses out there to be insured and every single one of them are looking for the best terms while keeping costs down wherever they can. And they will go with the broker most likely to provide both.

As we progress through a hardening market, the challenge for the broker becomes even more acute which is why at Aston Lark, we are always looking for ways to differentiate ourselves with clients and insurers alike.

Our fundamental approach is to ensure that each and every one of our clients receives an Aston Lark level of service, regardless of who they are insured with. That means taking more responsibility for the services provided – as well as come up with our own innovative solutions. We want to take all the good stuff that insurers and loss adjusters do and do it ourselves but with a level of consistency that cannot be delivered by anyone but Aston Lark.

One of the most exciting and innovative ways in which we are doing that is in our use of drones. They have gained a strong foothold in the claims arena in recent years as they have shown just what they are capable of during surge storm events and in large, complex losses.

Drones in risk management

But the industry has been slow to explore their use in risk management and that is exactly where Aston Lark is headed. We have a large property book and these clients often struggle to provide the information on their properties that insurers would like to have.

For example, one of our clients is a large printing firm with huge premises, some of which were built 200 years ago. They were struggling to provide certain information to insurers as there was a good deal of uncertainty over the integrity of the roof as they simply hadn’t been able to access it properly for a number of years.

We suggested that we send up a drone to take a look and the 3D interactive model that was produced from the raw data allowed them to identify trouble spots and put in place a plan to fix them. This in turn also enabled them to satisfy the insurers requirements.

“It’s not just the clients who benefit – that value extends to insurers too”

This is one example, but we are convinced many of our clients would benefit hugely from the same service which is why we are about to launch a drone-powered risk management service to our client base.

It is not just the clients who benefit – that value extends to insurers too. Underwriters are constantly seeking more and more information about a risk and that appetite is only increasing in a hard market. Insurers can afford to be choosy and that choosiness is only satisfied by hard data.

They are always on the lookout for anything that can reduce their indemnity spend post loss so the pre-loss data that the 3D model provides them is hugely beneficial, not just for large risks, but smaller ones too.

Desktop valuations

For desktop building valuations, we use the drone data to provide our clients with an reinstatement cost assessment that provides insurers with the confidence they need to forego the average clause that’s usually inserted into a buildings policy as they are given a view of a risk that is reasonably close to a traditional boots-on-the-ground survey.

To be able to remove that clause provides a huge amount of comfort for clients where underinsurance is still a huge concern.

As I say, we are still in the early stages of appreciating the full application of drones in insurance, but the prospects are exciting to say the least.

Drone data and the way it is presented helps our clients manage the maintenance of their assets in a more sustainable way, allows insurers to offer better terms based on more granular detail and both of these things give Aston Lark a distinct advantage as we head into a hard market.

How long that advantage lasts will depend upon the speed at which other brokers pick up on this but in the meantime, Aston Lark will continue to seek out new tools and new approaches to ensure our clients are getting the terms and service they need.

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There’s no turning back now

The insurance industry had no choice but to keep operating during the lockdown – the financial regulator made it clear that it expected claims to be processed and settled as normal. How exactly the industry should do that, was less clear. Unsurprisingly, for many, tech was the answer and here, Lisa Bartlett, the UK and Ireland President of loss adjusting firm, Crawford & Co, gives us some insight into what that looked like and what role drones had to play in keeping the claims machine moving.

It is a well-established idea that the more we embrace technology, the more we fear it will make us humans redundant. But what has been a gentle jog towards digital over the past few years, suddenly turned into a sprint during the lockdown.

Those that could, turned digital virtually overnight, having been forced to find new ways to operate and maintain customer service. It has shown many of us just how powerful technology can be and has made us completely rethink how we will work when life returns to ‘normal’.

Does this mean the machines have won?

Not necessarily. There is no doubting that the greater use of tech in insurance and adjusting is here to stay. That’s a given. It’s nothing new anyway – we have been introducing more and more digital processes into our businesses for years but perhaps what the lockdown has forced us to do is to really explore its full capabilities.

Crawford has been able to conduct desktop claims handling for some time now but when the lockdown was introduced, we went remote and digital quickly, across the organisation and it worked. But it also evolved.

For some time now, we have been using an app that allows customers to upload photos of damage to our adjusters to help speed up the claims process. During the lockdown, with no site visits possible, we had to find a new way, so we shifted to video conferencing and while not the same as having a human on site, provided the necessary insight for our adjusters to get a claim moving.

To supplement that, we have been using drones to conduct site visits and again, while this is not new technology for us, the use of it has increased and been applied beyond the traditional uses of flood and major fire events.

The immediate operational use of tech is obvious, but it goes beyond the practical and this is what, despite any reservations, we need to keep exploring. Because it doesn’t just make life easier – if used properly and blended with our technical expertise, it will make us better at what we do.

Take the cameras that drones use, for example. These high definition cameras take a series of NADIR (straight down), oblique and horizontal images, which can then be processed through advanced software to create a 3D interactive ‘digital twin’ model of the site. This permanent record can then be shared with all parties, reducing or even removing the need for repeat visits, with the obvious time savings that provides.

But perhaps more importantly, the data and imaging can be used with clients too, showing them what was found, the damage done, what the likely causes of that damage were and what the remedy might be. It just makes the whole claims process much more transparent for the customer and, indeed, for everyone involved.

And this can only be a good thing. Whatever reservations people may have about technology, I just can’t see Crawford, or anyone else, rowing back and not embracing the advantages it provides. Where there is a clear operational and customer service benefit, it is incumbent upon all of us to use it.

That doesn’t mean that technology is the be all and end all, however. Its full potential can only really be realised when it is properly paired with the technical expertise of adjusters. Indeed, as smart as the tech may be, it still needs the insight and oversight that only an adjuster can provide – drones are flown by a human, the 3D images are interpreted by a human and the adjuster is still making the final call on a claim.

And I think that is biggest operational lesson we can learn from all of this – yes, we are all more digital now but no, that does not need to be to the detriment of humans. It is with an open mind and a determination to explore all the possibilities (while reminding ourselves of our own value), that we will make the real digital leap forward that so many have been predicting for so long.

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Iprosurv British Insurance Awards Finalist

The adoption of drone technology across industry and wider society has been accelerating over recent years so much so, that even the most traditional of sectors are starting to embrace their use.

Insurance isn’t known for its willingness to embrace change and we at Iprosurv know that first-hand. We’ve spent the last six years persuading insurance companies and loss adjusters, one by one, of the benefits of drones. And while we’ve made some great progress, it hasn’t always been easy and often frustrating, but this month marked a bit of a milestone.

More and more companies are using our drone pilots to survey the damage caused to buildings by floods, fires and storms and they are also waking up to the benefits of using them to survey properties to assess their current condition and risk of damage.

Once these companies use drones, they get it instantly, albeit one by one. Drones provide them access to closed off or dangerous sites and the data they produce allows them to get working on paying claims in hours rather than weeks. Despite what most people think, insurers do want to pay claims – they just want to be sure of all the facts before they do and the data our drone pilots provide help them do that quickly.

And it seems that we are approaching a bit of a tipping point in this industry. This month Iprosurv was shortlisted for Claims Initiative of the Year at the British Insurance Awards, the first time the use of drones has been recognised at an industry award.

Don’t laugh but the British Insurance Awards are often called the Oscars of insurance so it’s a really big deal for that industry to recognise the contribution of drone technology in this way.

Of course, we’re really excited at the prospect of winning but what is really satisfying is that it feels like we (and our drone pilots) are becoming an accepted part of the industry. And that’s not just important for us as a business.

It’s important for the industry as a whole because drones can reduce the decision-making time on a claim from days to hours. Delays to claims are one of the main complaints made by customers so anything that the industry can do to improve that has to embraced wholesale across the industry.

We are by no means there yet, but for an industry that is quite innovation-phobic to recognise the contribution and importance of drones to the way they operate, feels like a really important step forward.

Posted in General Interest, Iprosurv News

https://iprosurv.com/2020/12/07/insuretechs-need-to-get-real-and-stop-promising-the-world/Insurtechs need to get real and stop promising the world

https://iprosurv.com/2020/11/30/drones-data-and-digital-the-changing-face-of-farming/Drones, data and digital: the changing face of farming

https://iprosurv.com/2020/10/15/drones-and-data-set-to-revolutionise-the-uk-agricultural-insurance-market/Drones and data set to revolutionise the UK agricultural insurance market

https://iprosurv.com/2020/09/11/eye-in-the-sky-how-iprosurv-is-using-drones-to-survey-buildings/Eye in the sky: Iprosurv drones surveying buildings

https://iprosurv.com/2020/09/03/caa-grants-extended-line-of-sight-permissions-to-iprosurv/CAA grants extended line of sight permissions to Iprosurv

https://iprosurv.com/2020/08/20/iprosurv-select-altitude-angel-as-global-map-data-provider/Iprosurv integrate Altitude Angel into proprietary Case Management System

https://iprosurv.com/2020/08/10/taking-a-lift-from-drones-to-stand-out-from-the-crowd/A lift from drones to stand out from the crowd

https://iprosurv.com/2020/06/05/theres-no-turning-back-now/There’s no turning back now

https://iprosurv.com/2020/05/18/iprosurv-british-insurance-awards-finalist/Iprosurv British Insurance Awards Finalist