Unlock value of insurance data from paper constraints


Who knew proof of insurance could be a major news story? I suppose you could frame the question as, How many more ways can Dwight Howard get fans mad at him? But I prefer the insurance angle.

The story goes like this:

The 31-year-old center for the Atlantic Hawks was pulled over a bit after 2 in the morning on April 28 for driving 95mph in a 65mph zone about 10 miles from his home. Police found that he was driving his Audi Rs7 with a suspended registration and without proof of insurance. They let him off with a verbal warning for the speeding and the suspended registration—one of the perks of being an NBA star, I suppose—but towed his car because he couldn't prove his claim that he had insurance.

The incident might have stayed under the radar without the towing but popped up on sports sites this week and caused a stir among fans. Why was Howard out at 2 in the morning on the day of a playoff game? Was his late night the reason he played poorly later that day in a game that eliminated the Hawks from the playoffs? The car towing fed into the narrative about Howard, a supremely talented player who has never lived up to expectations, especially in the playoffs, and is now with his fourth team. Atlanta fans are outraged, while fans of his three previous teams are chuckling and saying, "Told you so."

All because Howard couldn't produce proof of insurance.

Did he have insurance? He certainly can afford it. He earns more than $23 million a year and has been making that kind of money for a long time now. But we don't know for sure, because of the archaic systems we use that mean most of us carry proof of insurance as little pieces of paper in our cars. 

At its core, insurance is as digital as any industry there is—we basically track a whole lot of data on people, curate a mass of very precise promises and wire money—so it strikes me as odd that we turn the data into paper and PDFs and handle them manually. Why can't we leave the data in its native state and just make it available whenever and wherever the bits and bytes are needed?

That question is why I'm a fan of GAPro, a startup that is trying to rewire the industry to stop these unnatural acts that we perform on data and to make the industry much more efficient. If you share my belief that data should stay in its native state, then I encourage you to read the article on Luddites below, by Chet Gladkowski of GAPro, which lays out the company's argument in detail.

Speaking of rewiring the industry for efficiency...our friends at Pypestream and our friends at EY (yes, we introduced them to each other) made an important announcement this week. EY will help clients implement Pypestream's intelligent messaging, which is cutting the costs of customer service while making customers happier (how many times can you say that with a straight face?) and which is now moving into core operations at insurers, too. Pypestream is becoming the industry standard for chatbots and other aspects of intelligent messaging—as it should, in my humble opinion—and the alliance with EY will accelerate the trend. 


Paul Carroll,

Paul Carroll

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Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is the editor-in-chief of Insurance Thought Leadership.

He is also co-author of A Brief History of a Perfect Future: Inventing the Future We Can Proudly Leave Our Kids by 2050 and Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn From the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years and the author of a best-seller on IBM, published in 1993.

Carroll spent 17 years at the Wall Street Journal as an editor and reporter; he was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize. He later was a finalist for a National Magazine Award.