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Raising the red flag: automating sanctions checking

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Published on:17th January 2023
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Since the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UK Government alone has sanctioned more than 1,200 people and over 120 businesses.

These sanctions have been made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2018, and include major banks such as Sberbank and Credit Bank of Moscow, as well as businesses and individuals involved in a number of industries, notably defence sector organisations, and certain exported technologies. In addition, Russian ships and aircraft have been banned from UK airspace and shipping lanes.

For the insurance industry, while sanctions checking is nothing new, the scope and scale of these new sanctions being applied has been.

Checking sanctions is part of the wider financial crime checking, such as anti-money laundering and bribery and corruption checks, that insurers and underwriters must undertake, and increasingly forms part of ‘know your customer’.

Managing the workload

This additional, albeit necessary, workload has required a solution which can be completely relied upon. It has also needed a solution that doesn’t tie underwriters time up in checking for red-tape. Send’s underwriting workbench’s functionality evolved early on to meet this need. Here’s how.

Using a range of policy data capturing techniques and data from organisations including Dun & Bradstreet and the UK government’s Companies House, Send can cross check against published sanction lists and flag which country’s sanctions the policy holder, insured or reinsured in question might be in breach of. As these checks are automated and happen in the background via an API in real time, it doesn’t slow the underwriting process or, slow the underwriter in their work or, tie them up in unnecessary sanctions checking tasks.

Empowering Underwriters

When the background checks identify a potential issue with the policy or insured, a warning is presented to the underwriter about possible sanctions breach. This will then trigger secondary sanctions checks and the underwriter is alerted. This might entail the insurer’s own financial crimes team conducting their own triage check on, the Dow Jones system for example, and make a judgement whether to proceed. A secondary check at a more senior level can then been completed if required. The decision and reasons for it will then be recorded and flagged back to the underwriter, all through Send’s Underwriting Workbench.

Having the certainty that what you are writing is going through sanctions checking, without having to wait for those checks to be completed, is just one of the ways that Send’s Underwriting Workbench improves efficiency, reduces wasted time and enables underwriters to spend more time doing what they do best.

Author: Martin Lancaster, Head of Business Architecture, Send. You can connect with Martin on LinkedIn here.

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