Data Providers: It's Time to Collaborate

Collaboration is not only necessary if we are to fulfill our promise to society, but it is the future of insurance. No one can go it alone.

I’ve worked in the insurance industry for nearly 20 years, and I’ve (mostly) been pleased with how the industry collaborates, working together to solve problems and serve the global economy. As former Willis Re CEO John Cavanagh said in an interview with Insurance Thought Leadership, “Nothing flies, floats or gets built without insurance....Insurance plays a significant role in society, and we need to protect that.” Indeed, the insurance industry is a small world that plays a big role in protecting society at large. Create fusion, not friction Together, we’re charged with tackling the world’s challenges—from the worst of human nature to the worst of mother nature—and the only way we will succeed is by working together. Aristotle said, "The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." We can accomplish far more together than we can by working in silos. Focus on being the best at what you do, and bring that together with the best that another organization has to offer. That is insurtech. And, collaboration is not only necessary if we are to fulfill our promise to society, but it is the future of insurance. No one can go it alone in this industry. In the midst of uncertainty and change, we can be counted on to come together in crises. Can’t we? During last year’s catastrophes, specifically hurricanes Michael and Florence, I observed that not everybody was playing nice in the sandbox. Without a doubt, collaboration is happening in the industry, especially among carriers and insurtechs. It didn’t take long for incumbent re/insurers to buy into the value of teaming up with insurtechs. In fact, 83% of insurtech deals involve a re/insurer as an investor, according to Ernst & Young research. But, while many are exchanging the best of what they have to offer, some of our industry’s largest catastrophe modelers and data providers are still holding their data close to their vest. See also: Is Insurtech Wave Hitting a Riptide?   We (solution providers) can do a better job As a provider of geospatial insurance analytics software, we see collaboration as key to our business model here at SpatialKey. In fact, “play well with others” is one of our corporate values. We make great software, but we’re not a modeler or data provider. It’s simple: We need data companies, and they need our solution to more broadly reach insurers (and showcase the best of their data). But, this exchange is not happening with some data providers like it should be. We can do a better job of coming together to serve our mutual customers (re/insurers, MGAs, brokers), especially during catastrophes when they need it most. This means sharing the best of what we both have to offer (data and analytics) to the benefit of our insurance clients. Making data readily accessible and easily digestible helps insurers speed their response to insureds and start making a real difference for those affected by an event—right when they need it most. Insurers need easy access to trusted data To that end, these data providers need to fulfill their commitment to deliver trusted data and models, first. And help, not hinder, by making their data readily accessible and usable. I’ve witnessed first-hand the frustration felt by insurance professionals who need access to expert data right now. Insurers are working hard—scrambling and struggling to get information and make use of it. Not only do they need easy access to trusted data, they’re challenged with operationalizing sophisticated data. Collaboration gives insurers an easy path to expert data, and solves many of the challenges they face in times of crises, such as:
  • Fast access to quality data — a streamlined way to access multiple perspectives from trusted authorities (e.g. for hurricane, bringing aerial imagery together with inland and surge flood extents and depths, as well as wind footprints with wind speed information)
  • Operationalizing data — loading and getting increasingly sophisticated data into usable formats
  • Interpreting data/models — understanding the nuances and how to apply the model for business use
  • Easily integrating data into workflows — putting data at the fingertips of business users when they need it, without the need for GIS expertise
Opportunity gained or lost? It’s not only carriers who are faced with the necessity to embrace some level of transformation. The premier data providers in our industry may, too, benefit from exploring how technology through collaborative partnerships can transform their own business models. Catastrophe events, like those witnessed in recent years, present an opportunity for data providers to demonstrate their expertise and get their data into the hands of a broader insurance audience—through platforms other than their own. Insurers look to them—put their trust in them—and now they need them to collaborate in ways that make their data more readily accessible and consumable. See also: Insurtech: Revolution, Evolution or Hype?   Data providers: It’s time to play nice with others The solution is simple. Partner with insurtechs to give insurers an easy path to your data. Your time to shine is during crises. You can shine by sharing your valuable data with a broader audience and on a platform that enables carriers to more easily consume and interpret what your data is trying to tell them. Let’s fuse the best of each of us for the benefit of all who need our solutions most.

Bret Stone

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Bret Stone

Bret Stone is president at SpatialKey. He’s passionate about solving insurers' analytic challenges and driving innovation to market through well-designed analytics, workflow and expert content. Before joining SpatialKey in 2012, he held analytic and product management roles at RMS, Willis Re and Allstate.


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