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Blue Zebra Insurance embraces automation, security and innovation with Microsoft Sentinel, E5 and Fabric

Blue Zebra Insurance (BZI) may be a relatively new arrival to Australia’s insurance sector, but it has quickly established a name for itself through its innovative digital offerings. Since it was founded in 2017, it has provided agencies and insurers with a self-built and cloudhosted digital platform for insurance policy administration, helping it deliver its services efficiently at scale and speed.

One of the most notable indicators of Blue Zebra’s growth trajectory is the nearly $100 million increase in Gross Written Premium (GWP), representing a remarkable growth rate of more than 50% compared to the previous year. Blue Zebra has also received significant industry recognition, winning the Insurance Business’ Digital Insurer of the Year Award for five years running.

According to BZI’s Chief Technology Officer, Amar Roomi, the company’s digital maturity is crucial to its success. “Our journey with Microsoft dates back to our inception in 2017 when we started building our own custom application on Azure.”

We were able to grow the business at a high volume and low cost, thanks to Microsoft’s scalable and flexible technology stack.

– Amar Roomi, Chief Technology Officer, BZI

Today, the company underwrites more than $300 million in premiums annually and handles nearly 1.2 million quotes per year. It is also fully powered by Microsoft, deploying the productivity tools in the Microsoft Office suite as well as Microsoft Azure as the foundation for its online platform, among other solutions.

BZI logo“We are a small and ambitious company, able to achieve with a team of 30 technical staff what most insurance companies would need 200 people to do,” says Roomi. “A huge factor in our ability to be that efficient is our heavy investment in the right technology.”

In 2024, the company decided to enhance its security posture by deploying Microsoft Sentinel for a centralised dashboard to oversee incidents and centralise threat management activity. BZI selected Sentinel as it aligned with the company’s core principle of maintaining a lean structure without limiting scalability through automation and intelligent response management. BZI partnered with Arinco to implement Sentinel quickly and maximise its capabilities.

Deploying Sentinel efficiently

BZI began its Sentinel deployment in January 2024, completing the project by the end of February. The nine-week deployment was due to the effective partnership between BZI and Arinco, which brought deep expertise and knowledge of the Microsoft stack to help BZI integrate Sentinel across its operations.

“We came on board to supplement BZI’s strong technical expertise with our own, having been recommended by Microsoft as a trusted partner,” says Dave Edge, Cloud Security Architect at Arinco.

BZI is a small and fast growing organisation with strong and broad security ambitions, so we helped the team understand the work that needed to happen to build on their logging, threat detection and incident response capabilities in an agile and cost-effective way.

– Dave Edge, Cloud Security Architect, Arinco 

“Sentinel is a sophisticated product, with a lot of data connectors and different playbooks, depending on your needs and priorities, but the deployment was made far less daunting with Arinco’s guidance,” says Roomi.

Just two months after the start of the deployment, Sentinel is seamlessly integrated into BZI’s operations and has become its starting point for incident and response management.

Enhanced security management

The standout benefit that Sentinel is providing to BZI is a centralised dashboard, which allows the organisation to oversee all security alerts, incidents, investigations and metrics within a single view. This in turn gives BZI’s Technology team greater visibility to monitor the company’s security posture.

Sentinel also allows BZI to automate responses to security incidents, speeding up what is typically a manual process and ensuring swift and consistent responses to security threats. As a result, Sentinel has significantly reduced incident response and resolution time for BZI (average decreases of 25% and 50% respectively).

Amar Roomi, CTO, BZI

“That automation capability within Sentinel really aligns with BZI’s proactive approach to cybersecurity, and my philosophy of ‘lazy protection’ by which I mean I want to be able to rely on the robust security frameworks embedded in our technology without having to reinvent the wheel. Our whole business is founded on a strong sense of automation and digital enablement and working with Sentinel was a natural fit” says Roomi.

Alongside Sentinel, BZI is also using Microsoft Defender to identify and triage security threats across its identities, applications and devices. This leverages the native advanced threat detection and AI capabilities within Defender to help the team respond more intelligently and discern serious threats from false positives, which the team is hoping to reduce by one-third.

BZI is also leveraging Microsoft 365 E5 which provides several protective controls including risk-based access management and identity protection, vulnerability management, security baselines for endpoints, and data protection. As part of the E5 suite, BZI is also benefitting from improved email security features and protection against email threats such as phishing. This is especially crucial in the insurance industry, where email communications are a key part of daily operations.

By drawing on Microsoft technology and its partnership with Arinco, BZI has been able to adopt what Roomi calls “best-in-class security” without needing to build a large internal team to develop its cybersecurity solutions.

Looking ahead to AI

BZI is extending its cloud-native approach by deploying Windows 365 Enterprise across its workforce. By providing employees with secure and seamless access to resources, BZI is enabling a flexible work environment while also reducing attack surfaces – closely aligning it with Microsoft’s vision for a modern, secure and efficient workplace. The solution is currently available to 20% of its workforce and the company plans to roll it out to all staff by the second half of the year.

The company is also deploying Microsoft Fabric to centralise its data management and unify its various data sources into a single data lake. This centralisation will streamline its architecture and simplify access and analysis of data across the company. By leveraging this centralised data repository, BZI will be better positioned to harness Azure AI Studio and OpenAI’s large language models to enhance its AI capabilities. In doing so, it will foster innovation in predictive modelling and claims process automation, furthering BZI’s commitment to using cutting-edge AI technology to improve its services.

The potential for AI in the insurance industry is vast, and Microsoft’s technology is going to be pivotal in helping us realise these advancements.

– Amar Roomi, BZI

Arinco Logo“BZI has a very pragmatic approach to security and AI, paired with an intelligent and informed view of what’s going on in the industry,” says Iain Podd, Account Executive, Arinco. “It’s exciting to work with a customer who is ready and able to act on the latest advancements in technology because they’ve put the time and effort into establishing security and efficiency as a basis for innovation.”