Unlocking insurance expertise
Ross Kiddie is the General Manager of Altelium North America. He joined Altelium in Spring 2022, bringing a wealth of relevant experience from his roles such as CEO of energy software firm Envinta, and President of EK&S Energy Products.
In this blog post, Ross describes his deep sector experience, and tells the story of why he chose to study for his insurance licence, demonstrating the commitment and energy of the Altelium team to providing world class battery insurance services.
Whenever I mentioned to anyone that I was going back to school this year, I was met with surprise.
Undoubtedly, it’s an unusual move for someone at this stage in their career, who has been working for 25 plus years and who is in a senior position in experience and status.
But here’s the thing – at Altelium we are a team of industry experts. And whilst I have built expertise in energy, technology, renewables, and storage – I was not an expert in insurance, unlike my colleagues in the UK.
Altelium is in the business of insuring risk for batteries, so of course it’s important that I am schooled, trained, and licensed in professional insurance concepts as well. Does it matter that this license is not necessarily required? Whilst it may not have been be mandated, it seemed entirely appropriate for qualified ‘expert’ status to be a cornerstone in Altelium’s new business prospects in North America.
When I started researching the license, I learned that only 53.9 per cent of the first-time students sitting the exam pass the first time, which is an intimidating statistic. Nonetheless, it felt important to our business moving forward in the US – and on a personal level I wanted to invest in my own skillset, to challenge myself to accomplish in an academic setting and qualify for the license.
Happily, I found the course material and delivery very interesting. Whilst I’d been out of college for many years and not sat an exam in over 25 years, I ended up taking two classes – firstly a preparation class from Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents for an overview of all the concepts, which was more like a traditional college lecture – and secondly, an excellent online programme which allowed me to test myself and work on each area of knowledge as required.
Alongside the building blocks of traditional insurance, one of the most valuable lessons for me was understanding the connection between the elements of what can be classified as an insurable risk (outside the insurer’s control; definite and measurable; statistically predictable; not catastrophic, and randomly selected in large loss exposure) and how this can be applied to Altelium’s SaaS and insurtech products.
When we think about Lithium-ion batteries, whether used in EVs or stationary storage, we must consider whether risk to the insurer is definite and measurable. At Altelium, we use real time battery analytics to accurately measure battery state of health. With theory learning I’ve been able to make more tangible connections between the concepts of insurable risk, and how we address those elements in practical applications to battery insurance.
You can see then, how the license itself represents a key to unlocking client confidence in our applied insurance products within the energy sector. It represents a basis of knowledge and understanding of how the insurance industry works, alongside a high level of commitment to ethics and responsibility which is very important to Altelium. A big part of acting as a licensed insurance producer comes with a commitment to operate with competence, and for brokers and underwriters who may not have taken out a warranty or policy like this before, it’s a crucial step in building professional trust and reliance.
I also found that the range of knowledge included in the syllabus gave a greater contextual expertise to license holders in the insurance landscape – for example, the concept of liability. Whilst I am not an attorney or counsellor, as a licensed insurance producer I must understand the basics of insurance law; I must understand the definition of absolute liability, and what the word warranty means. As a growing business we purchase our own coverage alongside selling insurance products, so I’ve ended up with a valuable ‘double perspective’ of the policies we’re marketing and the requirements we have for Altelium’s own business insurance.
The license connects the potential of the renewable energy sector with rapidly developing battery technology and data analytics. It’s the link we needed in the supply chain to bring Altelium to the US and allow the market here to access the financial security and risk management of battery warranties.
As Altelium grows in the US and we add more offices here, it will be important to make the license examination mandatory for Altelium employees because it’s crucial that our clients recognise the professional standards of the license and feel reassured by that.
Before working with Altelium I didn’t grasp the true value of the insurance industry in energy market growth. By the time I took the final exam and was awarded the license in September, I felt very able to grasp the concepts as they related to the energy sector – as I already could with my engineering degree – and this is going to prove invaluable when unlocking that understanding for our clients and stakeholders too.
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