Transforming Risk Assessment in a Pandemic Era

October 19, 2023
Karin Louw

About the business:

Lombard, a leading insurance company based in South Africa, specialising in offering credit lines to businesses.


220 employees






South Africa


Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the firm grappled with forecasting potential losses due to a host of uncertainties facing their clients and the broader global markets.


Tailored dashboards for instant access to critical data, simplifying complex risk assessment processes.

Key outcomes:

Elevated industry positioning, alignment with global benchmarks, and a team primed for data-driven decision-making.

Navigating a global crisis

When COVID-19 shook the world, insurers were confronted with pressing questions from their stakeholders: "How much money will we lose, and why will we lose that much?” 

With the onset of what many believed to be a once-in-200-years event, companies braced for unprecedented insolvencies. For Lombard, it was paramount to quantify potential losses and prepare for future uncertainties.

"We had an idea but we couldn’t quantify potential losses properly, which we really needed.”

A fragmented pre-solution landscape

Before partnering with ExploreAI, each business unit had its own method for evaluating default risks. The environment was cluttered with various Excel spreadsheets, varying data sources, and inconsistent analytical practices. This fragmented approach lacked the cohesion and reliability that the situation demanded.

“We were using Excel spreadsheets before, and everyone had their own spreadsheets and their own ways and their own data. Six teams are now using the new dashboard."

Collaboration: A Synergy of minds and technology

The initial interaction between Lombard and ExploreAI took place between the CEOs, laying the groundwork for a transformative partnership. The urgency of real-time data and quantifying risks in the evolving landscape of COVID-19 brought ExploreAI into the fold.

Lombard's central data team worked closely with ExploreAI. Before our solution, our client often woke up at 4am to process fresh data, aiming to produce reports by 6am for divisional discussions at 9am.

“I get a lot more sleep now, and no one is needlessly up against the time crunch.”

But the collaboration wasn't without its challenges. The client admittedly provided high-level briefs. Yet, the ExploreAI team diligently sought to understand the nuanced business landscape. Regular communication and an unwavering focus on data-driven decisions paved the way.

Our briefs were pretty [vague]... The ExploreAI guys really took time to understand our businesses and the nuances of it. We had 2-3 phone calls a day for six months initially."

The core of ExploreAI's intervention wasn't just data or technology. It was impartiality. While internal teams made assumptions, ExploreAI came in with fact-based perspectives, often challenging existing views and propelling deeper interrogations.

Your teams are super smart; it was a matter of wrapping our heads around the discussions."

The comprehensive dashboard solution

ExploreAI delivered a solution that transformed their risk assessment process – dashboards. But these weren't just any dashboards. They were meticulously crafted to meet the unique challenges posed by the pandemic and the fragmented pre-solution landscape.

  • Unified platform: A unified dashboard system emerged, replacing the numerous Excel sheets. This centralisation eliminated inconsistencies and standardised the risk assessment process.
  • Quick reference tools: These dashboards were designed for quick access. Instead of sifting through detailed model parameters, teams could view essential figures instantly. This immediate accessibility enabled quicker, more informed decisions, especially vital in the fast-paced environment created by the pandemic.
  • Empowerment in negotiations: Armed with readily accessible data, teams could confidently engage in pricing discussions with clients. No longer reliant on sentiment or gut feelings, they had tangible, up-to-date data to back their claims, strengthening their position in negotiations.
“A lot of our teams struggled to have pricing discussions, negotiations, increases and even decreases, whereas now they can. They feel more equipped to have those discussions based on fact and not sentiment."

Transformative insights and outcomes

With the dashboards in place, Lombard experienced a positive shift in both its operational efficiency and financial outcomes:

  1. Full-spectrum risk evaluation: Gaining complete visibility into all areas of risk enabled them to make more informed decisions, leading to more strategic product pricing and smarter investment strategies.
  2. Team upskilling: The integration of advanced models and simulations pushed Lombard's team to enhance their skills. This growth was not just about technical expertise but also fostered a culture of continuous learning and improvement.
By a country mile, the hardest part of the process is getting our team upskilled as fast as these models and simulations."

From adapting to leading: A reflective journey

Collaborating with ExploreAI did more than just help this insurance company to rapidly evolve in a volatile market — it positioned them at the forefront of industry innovation. Armed with data-driven insights and state-of-the-art solutions, Lombard not only aligned with international standards but also confidently matched leading global counterparts.

Previously, they sought insights and industry benchmarks from their European counterparts. But with the sophisticated solutions from ExploreAI, they took the lead with authority and foresight. It was more than just leveling the playing field; it was about redefining the boundaries and setting new industry standards.

“We’re able to keep up with them…It has allowed us to fit into international standards..."

The success of this collaboration wasn't just rooted in technology; it also stemmed from a harmony of understanding, a shared vision, and a commitment to excellence.

Charting the future: More than just a partnership

The partnership between Lombard and ExploreAI signifies more than merely a technological transition. It is a testament to the power of understanding, collaboration, and data-driven decision-making in an ever-evolving landscape. As the client looks to the future, they do so with confidence, equipped with tools and insights to navigate any challenge that comes their way.

If you’re interested in learning more or you’d like to discuss how data science and AI can empower your financial services business, get in touch with our expert team today.

Contact David Carmalt at or follow the button below to request a meeting or consultation.

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