Tag Archives: aite group

Challenges Remain on Use of Data, Analytics

As insurance companies look to optimize performance, mitigate risk and meet rising consumer expectations, they still face a plethora of challenges when it comes to data and analytics. Companies continue to aggregate more and more data – but the manner in which they are doing so is not necessarily efficient. Some 40% to 50% of analysts spend their time wrangling the data, rather than finding meaningful insights.

To address these operational inefficiencies, TransUnion commissioned Aite Group to conduct a study of insurance and financial services professionals. The findings from this study outline how companies can stay competitive in the insurance industry while adapting to the evolving world of data and analytics.

Like most established financial institutions, insurance companies have multiple data repositories across the organization. Individual business units own their respective processes for capturing and managing data and, more often than not, manage at the product level rather than at the customer level. This often leads to inconsistencies, with no set definitions of key terms such as “customer.” As a result, information and insights are isolated to silos – by lines of business or by product – creating barriers toward seamless data integration.

To maintain a competitive edge, insurance companies recognize the need for new data sources. More than half of the study’s respondents plan to increase spending on most types of data sources, especially newer ones, such as mobile. However, as big data gets even bigger, it becomes increasingly difficult for analytics executives to find valuable insights. Addressing the challenges that arise from big data volumes requires an enterprise data management strategy as well as an investment in the proper analytics tools and platforms for processing and analyzing the data for meaningful insights.  

The majority of these institutions are currently grappling with fractured data and legacy systems, which prevents these companies from extracting value and making the data actionable. 70% of those surveyed indicated that a single analytics platform, one that coordinates and connects internal and third-party systems, is a major differentiator. However, only about two in 10 respondents indicated that their current solutions have these capabilities.

This highlights the need for a coherent enterprise data and analytics strategy and a common platform to hold and integrate existing and new data sources, as well as analytical tools. The platform needs to be flexible to support different skill sets, react to changing market conditions and have the ability to integrate alternative sources of data.

See also: Why to Refocus on Data and Analytics  

In addition to leveraging the right tools, sourcing the right talent remains a key challenge for executives. Nearly half (45%) of insurance professionals indicate that having the right talent greatly improves their ability to underwrite profitable policies. However, due to a lack of bandwidth, insurance companies often do not have the resources to allow their analytics teams to stretch their analytics creativity. 

These operational challenges can result in a significant amount of time being dedicated to cleansing and prepping the data – preventing analytical teams from performing more valuable activities such as model development. The operational challenges create an obstacle for retaining talent as these sought-after data scientists are instead assigned to trivial work. 42% of the insurance professionals surveyed indicated that it is also challenging to find qualified data scientists in the first place. 

As the use of descriptive, prescription and predictive analytics gains traction, it is imperative that executives recognize the challenges and explore solutions. By overcoming these barriers, the industry will be better prepared to embark on the next frontier of data and analytics.

For more information about the TransUnion/Aite Group study, please visit the “Drowning in Data: Thirsty for Insights” landing page.

How to Augment Agent Channels

At the beginning of this year, Deloitte released its predictions for the insurance industry. Topping the list of priorities was the need to “expand digital distribution and virtual service to cut costs and gain competitive advantages.”

For insurers who have relied exclusively on independent or captive agent workforces, the way forward is unclear. How do they establish a digitally based, direct-to-consumer presence when many haven’t yet stepped onto the digital stage?

The Current State of Digital Readiness in Insurance

According to Aite Group, only 20% of auto insurers and 7% of homeowners carriers are currently selling products online, despite the growing number of consumers that are choosing to use these channels.

“Many insurers are tied to core policy admin systems that originated in the last century,” said Rick Huckstep, industry influencer and thought leader at The Digital Insurer. “They remain constrained by the legacy of a pre-internet, analogue way of working.”

These systems, built with a 20-year life expectancy, were entering their twilight years before the current digital revolution, so it’s no surprise that they account for up to 80% of insurer costs. Even more troubling, according to Huckstep, they represent a significant impediment to establishing a digitally-based direct-to-consumer strategy.

For insurers who have focused exclusively on external agent channels for distribution, the situation is more severe. While they usually have a basic one-dimensional web presence, many of these insurers haven’t begun to think about how they are going to establish an attractive online storefront, let alone how they will tie legacy systems into the web frontend.

See also: Why More Don’t Go Direct-to-Consumer  

Implementing a Direct-to-Consumer Strategy

In our recent research, 73% of insurers reported consumer demand for D2C channels of engagement, but only 23% were satisfied with the results of their digital efforts. To be effective, a comprehensive digital strategy needs to tie together all of the key elements related to the customer experience.

For insurers relying exclusively on independent or captive agent forces to sell their products, the three principles below provide a starting point to add D2C channels of engagement into the mix.

Focus on Customer-Centricity

When Amazon came on the scene in 1994 selling books and records, it already had a vision of becoming an international seller of almost everything. Since then, the retailer has evolved into the premier online merchant, setting the standard for customer engagement in the digital world.

Looking closely at Amazon’s example, insurers can learn a lot about developing a D2C strategy. First, even if it seems beyond imagination in the beginning, plan for the end result.

Setting up an online storefront may seem like your biggest challenge today, but where are the technology trends going? Robotics and artificial intelligence are already improving workflows, and blockchain is waiting on the horizon.

Incorporating the digital basics that are available into your distribution strategy provides a base to integrate future advancements as the market changes.

Next, make it interactive. Amazon does more than sell everything under the sun. It interacts with shoppers, offering product recommendations that make it easy for consumers to find what they want at a price they are willing to pay.

Insurers can do the same, gearing their web-storefront to provide product recommendations, alert consumers to gaps in coverage and advise on deductibles and policy limits.

The message here is simple: Think of everything a target customer needs and then create the most efficient and customer-friendly way to deliver it.

Plan for Better Data Handling and Access

When it comes to data, insures have a lot of it, but, according to Aite Group, they aren’t making good use of it.

Currently, insurers use a complicated mix of lead generation techniques, including purchasing leads from outside vendors. As leads come in, data is filed in its own repository according to coverage type, causing product siloes and often resulting in data inaccuracies across systems.

As a result, insurers lack a single view of the consumer where every employee and system has the information necessary to engage in informed interactions with the customer in real time. Mark Breading of Strategy Meets Action calls this the ultimate view, and it’s essential to an effective D2C strategy because customers expect to interact with lightning-fast efficiency.

Imagine you sign into your online banking site, but, instead of being provided a single account overview, you’re required to login separately to see each account. This is the type of engagement insurance systems are set up to provide today, and the experience that many customers receive when purchasing coverage online.

They enter the site, input their personal information and are provided a quote for a single type of coverage. To inquire about other policies they may need, the customer is required to go through the application process again. If they need to make an inquiry with an agent, they have to provide the same information once again.

Direct-to-consumer distribution requires the web frontend to be connected to backend systems in a way that unites product siloes and delivers a 360-degree view of the customer and related products.

Establishing a Customer-Facing Call Center

In the non-digital world, consumers and business owners look to agents and brokers for guidance on obtaining the appropriate coverage. In the digital realm, the best D2C platforms use consumer-entered data, as well as information from third-party sources, to speed the application process, minimize errors, identify coverage gaps and recommend options.

So, what happens when a consumer needs to speak to someone? Even with direct-to-consumer engagement, insurers will need a customer-facing call center to answer questions and help with routine policy inquiries.

Accenture recently surveyed over 32,000 consumers to get their thoughts on the insurance industry. When it comes to getting advice and answers to questions, as many as 86% of these respondents are open to receiving automated support but up to 62% still prefer to receive guidance from an actual person when they have a question or need advice.

Insurers who rely exclusively on independents or captives will need to establish a separate customer-facing call center to support D2C channels of engagement. That call center will also need a cross-channel view to pick up the customer transaction right where they left off during their online interaction.

Planning ahead could net big advantages; Bain reports an increase in customer loyalty when insurers provide multiple channels of engagement. Consumers also report higher levels of trust with omni-channel insurers because consumers feel that the company will work to resolve any issues, an important aspect of a happy customer-insurer relationship.

The Importance of Partnerships

Huckstep, Breading and other industry influencers agree: When adding D2C channels of engagement, insurtech partnerships are the way to go.

Breading feels that the industry will be greatly transformed in 10 years — making it barely recognizable from what it is today _ and a large part of the change will come from insurtech innovation, particularly where distribution is concerned.

See also: The Agent of the (Digital) Future  

Distribution is a hot area for insurtechs in personal lines and is already having an important impact,” Breading said. “Insurtech has been a major trigger for new insurer strategies and will be an important part of the transformation of insurance over the next five to 10 years.”

According to Huckstep, insurtech platforms that build on the significant investment already made in legacy IT put insurers in the “fast lane” toward D2C distribution and outperform attempts at overhauling or moving to new policy admin systems.

“The insurtech digital implementation can be measured in months and thousands of dollars (instead of years and millions),” Huckstep said. “Speed-to-market is the defining characteristic for these tech-enabled platforms.”

At the end of the day, speed-to-market is what it’s all about. Accenture’s study revealed that as many as 51% of consumers are purchasing coverage online, but, according to Aite Group, less than one-quarter of insurers are selling direct to consumer through digital channels. That means a small number of insurers are reaping all of the rewards of digital distribution, while others, particularly carriers that sell exclusively through independent or captive agent forces, lose revenue and market share.

I’d like to hear from carriers with independent or captive agent forces. Are you feeling the push from consumers to offer D2C channels of engagement, and what approaches are you taking to ensure that you have a presence in the new digital insurance economy?


Chip Cards Will Cut Cyber Fraud — for Now

Visa has released data showing adoption of Visa chip cards by U.S. banks and merchants is gathering steam.

But the capacity for Europay-Mastercard-Visa (EMV) chip cards to swiftly and drastically reduce payment card fraud in the U.S. is by no means assured.

Just look north to Canada, where EMV cards have been in wide use since 2011. Criminals have simply shifted fraudulent use of payment card accounts to online purchases—where the physical card does not come into play. Security and banking experts expect a similar pattern to play out in the U.S., where banks and merchants are under an October 2015 deadline, imposed by Visa and MasterCard, for adopting EMV systems.

Free resource: Putting effective data risk management within reach

Heeding that deadline, major retail chains and big banks are driving up adoption numbers in the U.S. However, thousands of small and mid-sized businesses continue to remain on the fence.

SMBs slower to switch

SMBs are methodically assessing the risk vs. reward of racing to adopt EMV, Brian Engle tells ThirdCertainty. Engle is executive director of the newly founded Retail Cyber Intelligence Sharing Center, or R-CISC.

Brian Engle, Retail Cyber Intelligence Sharing Center executive director
Brian Engle, Retail Cyber Intelligence Sharing Center executive director


Company decision-makers are doing their due diligence, factoring in the potential for fraud, the cost of implementing EMV technology and the risk of chargebacks, he says.

“From a transactional volume perspective, some are going to accept risks and move at a rate that’s more appropriate for the size of their organization,” Engle says.

There’s no question the U.S. is in EMV saturation mode. As of the end of 2015, Visa tells us:

  • The volume of chip transactions in the U.S. increased from $12.1 billion in November to $15.8 billion in December, a 30% pop.
  • Seven out of 10 Americans now have at least one chip card in their wallet.
  • 93% of consumers are aware that the transition to EMV is happening.

Cryptogram makes things more complicated

Unlike magnetic-stripe cards, EMV cards are more difficult to counterfeit because the chip contains a cryptogram. When the card is inserted into the point of sale (POS) terminal—vs. being swiped—the cryptogram creates a token that’s unique to each transaction, and all the information is encrypted as it’s transmitted to the terminal and the bank.

This process actually takes a few seconds, during which the consumer must leave her card inserted in the POS terminal. U.S consumers are in the process of modifying their behavior at the checkout stand. Patience for a few seconds is required. Those precious seconds of inconvenient waiting represent an investment in tighter security.

But not as tight as when you use a chip card in Canada or Europe. That’s because EMV cards not only generate a one-time authorization token, they are also designed to require the user to enter a PIN as a second factor of authentication. However, PIN compliance was not part of the October 2015 deadline. Thus, most EMV in-store transactions in the U.S. still require only a signature, which, of course, any impostor can forge.

Criminals, on the other hand, won’t be able to hack into store networks and steal any useful transactions data, at least not any in which chip cards were used.

“Even if you steal the information, it becomes very difficult to use it. You’d get a long string of letters and numbers that can’t do anything,” explains Ben Knieff, senior analyst for retail banking at Aite Group, an independent research and advisory firm that specializes in financial services.

Criminals reportedly were able to breach Wendy’s customer magnetic strip payment card data, recently. That data breach was disclosed after numerous stolen card numbers were subsequently used at other merchants, and the trail led back to Wendy’s.

This kind of credit card fraud is exactly why U.S. financial institutions are migrating from the magnetic-stripe cards to new technology that uses a much more secure chip.

Aite Group estimates that EMV will significantly reduce U.S. counterfeit card fraud—from an estimated peak of $3.61 billion in 2015 to $1.77 billion in 2018.

Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems Inc. president and CEO
Scott Schober, Berkeley Varitronics Systems Inc. president and CEO


Even so, the technology is not foolproof because bad actors can use other tricks. “The EMV technology is still hackable,” says Scott Schober, president and CEO of Berkeley Varitronics Systems Inc., which specializes in wireless threat detection. “However, hackers are going to go after the simple hack.”

Identity theft experts anticipate that fraudsters will simply shift their attention to merchants that use mobile payments—or don’t use a physical POS terminal at all.

“For bad actors, when one avenue dries up, they will look for other ways,” says Numaan Huq, a Canada-based senior threat researcher with Trend Micro’s Forward-Looking Threat Research Team.

Some transactions safer than others

In Canada, where point-to-point encryption is now standard for retailers, Huq says he feels very safe when using a credit card in stores. But at places like hotels? Not so much.

That’s because hotels collect credit card information for reservations, and, when that system is hacked, all the data is compromised. The same goes for various service providers, like medical offices.

“Bad actors will find new avenues, and I expect, over time, the fraud levels (in the U.S.) will go up again,” Huq says.

That’s what happened in Canada, the U.K. and other countries that have adopted EMV. Canada, for example, saw a 54% decline in counterfeit cards and 133% jump in “card-not-present” (CNP) fraud between 2008 and 2013, according to Aite Group research.

“In the past, most of the tools hackers used were extremely crude,” Schober says. “But advances in technology are making it much easier to compromise people online.”

Aite estimates that CNP fraud in the U.S. will grow from $2.9 billion to $6.4 billion, as hackers shift their tactics.

But, Knieff says, criminals have one thing going against them—online credit card fraud is not a scalable “business.” Criminals can’t buy 40 TVs from Amazon.com, for example.

“Application fraud—using stolen or synthetic identities to open new accounts … becomes much more attractive,” he says. “Yes, CNP will increase, but it will not increase geometrically because it’s hard to scale.”

Many organizations may not even be ready to focus on securing their online systems. Engle, of R-CISC, uses a hockey analogy, saying retailers are “trying to skate to where the puck is going.” That is, at the moment they’re still trying to figure out the transition to EMV.

SMBs particularly vulnerable

In the meantime, smaller businesses face an increased risk.

“The fraudsters will utilize POS malware until they can’t, and those smaller retailers are going to continue to be in their cross-hairs,” he says. “The ability to affect small retailers at a high rate is very profitable for them.”

Attacks on large retailers take a lot more time and resources, Huq says.

“A small mom-and-pop shop is a no-brainer to hit,” he says, adding that mobile payments, especially, are a concern because of proliferation of malware, particularly for Android systems.

“It’s easy to use for small businesses because it costs less,” he says. “But in the future, I think this will be a new way for bad actors to steal credit card data.”

This post was written by Rodika Tollefson.

Top 10 Insurance Trends in 2016

Though the U.S. insurance industry is entering 2016 well-capitalized and profitable, too much capital capacity does not bode well for pricing as new capital flows in, seeking opportunities and driving pricing competition. Against this backdrop, insurers will be juggling priorities: modernizing their core systems, maintaining profitability within existing portfolios, accelerating their digital transformation and cultivating new products and services.


Download the full summary here.

Biometrics and Fraud Prevention: Seeing Eye to Eye

As more consumers opt for the flexibility of serving themselves, it has become essential for businesses to deploy strong systems to authenticate identity. The challenge is how to reduce fraud without frustrating consumers or compromising the customer experience.

Biometric technology has been seen increasingly as a solution in industries such as financial services, but is there a useful place in insurance? As technology becomes more convenient –and more secure — many are saying yes.

What’s What in Biometrics

By identifying individuals through their unique physiological or behavioral patterns, biometrics offers a higher level of security, ensuring that only authorized persons have access to sensitive data. Physiological biometrics include fingerprint, face, iris and hand geometry recognition. Behavioral biometrics identify signature and voice verification, including keystroke kinetics that identify a person’s typing habits.

As consumer-centric channels such as mobile and online applications continue to expand, so will the risk of fraud. And while many industries, including insurance, continue to deploy new technologies to stave off attacks, the reality is that the tools and methods by which professional fraudsters operate are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

“While insurers have applied some preventive measures against fraud, the industry as a whole needs to catch up,” says Steve Cook, director of business development, Facebanx. “They must be forward-thinking and recognize the benefits of biometric technology and how it can help in preventing fraudulent activities.”

Reducing Claim Fraud and Protecting Data

One area where biometrics has begun to take hold is healthcare insurance. A study by the Ponemon Institute found nearly 1.5 million Americans to be victims of medical identity theft. Healthcare fraud is estimated to cost between $70 billion and $255 billion a year, accounting for as much as 10% of total U.S. healthcare costs.

Many insurers are using biometrics to help reduce billing fraud by eliminating the sharing of medical insurance cards between patients, or by making it more difficult for a person to assume another’s identity. For example, as an alternative to paper insurance cards, a biometric iris scan can immediately transport proof of a patient’s physical presence at a healthcare facility.

Biometric technology is also assisting healthcare insurers with compliance and data integrity standards — in particular with those set by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). For example, in addition to adhering to requirements for automatic logoff and user identification, insurers must implement additional safeguards that include PINs, passwords and some method of biometrics.

Fraud Capabilities in Property and Casualty

According to a report by Aite Group, the war against fraud in property and casualty insurance is also escalating. The group estimates that claim fraud in the U.S. P&C industry alone cost carriers $64 billion in 2012 and will reach $80 billion by 2015. Customer contact centers have been hit particularly hard. While the focus on protecting consumer data has primarily centered on online channels, fraudsters are now targeting the phone channel, as well. Leveraging information obtained through social media networks, thieves are manipulating call center representatives and gathering customer information. 

For this reason, biometrics are being deployed. Representatives can cross-reference incoming calls against a watch list of known fraudsters, identifying unique voice prints. Advanced biometric techniques can also identify fraud patterns based on speech analytics, talk patterns and various “red flag” interactions.


The insurance industry is just beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to identifying areas of fraud management to which biometric science can be applied. 

“Insurance companies [that] are first to adopt this kind of technology will push the fraudsters over to the competition, because fraudsters don’t want their face or voice on a database that they can’t control,” Cook says.

Making the switch to biometric security measures can mean a substantial investment if done on a large scale. Even so, with the proliferation of online channels, consumer conveniences and ever-shifting tactics of fraudsters, deploying some degree of biometric technology will become a competitive necessity. And, as long as the insurance industry continues to expand consumer services because of e-commerce and m-commerce, no doubt new applications of biometrics will come about.