As the foothold of innovation across industries grows stronger by the day, insurers are witnessing the advent of tech-based economies, and with them a fundamental shift in the very definition of risk. Every advancement stands to revolutionize how property, businesses and employees will be insured. Consider automated cars and workplace automation tools, such as Amazon warehouse robots, or the emergence of shared ownership business models, like Lyft and AirBnB. Traditional risk calculation models need to evolve to keep up with rapid change.
How shall insurers prepare for this shift? According to Valen Analytics’ 2019 Outlook Report, a key part of the answer lies in the need to weave data and predictive analytics into the fabric of their business strategies. The report, which employs third-party and proprietary data to identify key trends, revealed:
Insurers Are Heavily Relying on Advanced Use of Data and Analytics to Fuel Growth
Valen’s Underwriting Analytics study found that 77% of insurers are incorporating predictive analytics into their underwriting strategy. This marked an increase compared with the steady 60% of insurers during the past three years, demonstrating a clear emphasis by the industry on data-driven decisions.
While many factors have fueled the demand for sophisticated data and analytics solutions, one stands out. Insurers have a growing desire to reap a share of the underserved small commercial market, which represents over $100 billion of direct written premiums. Data analytics tools enable insurers to reduce the number of application questions, verify necessary information and ascertain risk much more quickly and accurately. This is particularly important in creating effective business models that align with the needs of small business owners.
The rise in insurers looking to employ advanced data analytics techniques has also resulted in the growth of data aggregation services and consortiums. With new primary customer data sources emerging, insurers have access to better insights on consumer risk and behavior. This has contributed to insurers’ appreciation of the predictive horsepower that large pools of data offer. In fact, Valen’s proprietary research found that the synthetic variables appended with consortium data are as much as 13 times more predictive than policy-only data. Synthetic variables are built from computations of more than one variable, made possible by leveraging large and diverse datasets.
See also: Understanding New Generations of Data
Regulation and Innovation Must Go Hand-in-Hand
With a rise in advanced predictive analytics and robotic process automation in insurance, regulators are paying close attention to the industry. To ensure this oversight doesn’t stifle innovation, it is important that insurers build and document their analytics initiatives so they can be explained and understood by regulators. Being collaborative and responsive will help ensure that regulators can discern the small percentage of use cases that need to be reviewed for consumer fairness protection. In doing so, insurers have the opportunity to take the industry to Insurance 2.0 — the next phase in technology adoption and innovation.
Talent and Infrastructure Challenges
While insurers are looking to integrate data and predictive analytics into their business strategies, what will truly determine their success is their ability to hire and nurture the right talent. Unfortunately, the industry continues to suffer from a lack of the talent needed to support fast-paced innovation. Seventy-three percent of insurers surveyed indicate moderate to extreme difficulty in finding data and analytics talent, and the reasons haven’t changed over the years. While geographic location of the job is the primary reason cited by the survey respondents, more and more prospects are either looking for better compensation packages, are simply not interested in an insurance career or opt for opportunities in tech startups or data-driven companies in other fields.
Another roadblock for insurers is their dated IT infrastructures, which cause massive backlogs. While most insurers suffer backlogs of two years or more, others cannot identify how long their IT backlogs are.
Both of these problems go hand in hand. Clearly, there is a need to foster an innovation mindset, and, to do so, the industry needs a mix of new thinking and engaging work culture. Insurers should follow the footsteps of leading tech companies and cultivate a culture that appeals to high-level talent. By making small changes, such as embracing diversity and a remote workforce, insurers can make themselves attractive to the talent they need. This will build a workforce capable of overcoming IT infrastructural issues.
In short, to maintain a competitive advantage, insurers must not only put data and analytics at the forefront of their businesses, but also make strategic decisions on how best to employ them to enhance all aspects of their businesses, from customer service and information handling to risk calculations and claims processing.