Technology and data: Focus on the good we can do

Technology. The press is covering it, everyone is talking about it and we, as an industry, are spending time and money investing in it. For all this reasons and more, we will shortly talk about this topic at our Swiss Re L&H Conference in Warsaw in May: "Think tomorrow! Innovative solutions for our industry."

Some point to the dotcom era and argue that much of this is just another hype-fuelled failure in waiting, while others are much more positive about the potential of technology to transform our industry. I'm in the second camp. And I believe the potential isn't simply tied to the possibilities of smoother, more efficient ways to do old processes - the real potential lies in the increased power we have to help society. Advances in technology and data bring new opportunity for insurers to "do good" - and this is where we need to keep our focus if we are going to thrive in the coming age.

We live in an age of instant gratification - wifi when we want it, a ride where we need it, the perfect song when we feel like it. Even so, let's face it -- insurance still isn't at the top of everyone's "must buy" list. This is particularly true in Life and Health. Advances in technology and data alone won't persuade people to change their fundamental view - or disregard -- of their need for insurance.

Yes, we can make it easy to buy and faster to transact - and these things will make a positive difference for those who fall out of the pipeline once they've decided to buy. But there's more we can and should do.

Lower premiums can't be the end game

Our growing access to new sources of data will also open new windows to understand risk and create new and different ways to underwrite it that are easier for the consumer.

In the Life & Health space there's a lot of current focus around lower-hanging fruit such as wearable devices that help the fit get fitter and the healthy get healthier. There's nothing wrong with rewarding healthy people with lower premiums, but how useful this is in our quest to get more people to buy insurance? Using technology to make cover cheaper can't be the end game. I'm hopeful that the next stage of development will focus on how we can expand the pool, how we can extend our blanket of protection and increase the numbers of people we secure with valuable and appropriate cover.

More information = more access to insurance

A great example is tackling an underwriting challenge like diabetes. We're already exploring how to use wearable sensors and other technology to help people better manage their diabetes, improve their condition and enjoy a healthier lifestyle - all of which leads to a more open and lower cost insurance cover. Even better, it could help us to accept more diabetics into the risk pool. For me, that is good news and a great example of how we can use new technology and data to do good.

The same is happening in the motor industry with telematics and ultimately, the autonomous vehicle. Some bemoan these trends as the risks reduce and the premium pool shrinks, however, I see it as just the opposite - more people will be able to afford cover and we'll have fewer uninsured vehicles with fewer accidents and deaths which is better for everyone.

This focus on "doing good" must be the mantra for the wider insurance sector. Without it, issues of data access and privacy concerns will soon have us mired in regulatory issues, consumer rejection and complaints and quickly undermine our very ability to do the good we intend. Our potential to make a real difference would be lost.

Let's embrace the "doing good" aspects of technology that allow us to make insurance easier to buy, faster to transact and most importantly, able to meet the needs of many, many more customers.

Michael Haas, Head Life & Health Austria & CEE, Swiss Re

Follow XPRIMM Publications on LinkedIn, for more data on the insurance and financial industry.

Share |

Related articles

Mistakes App Developers Should Avoid

by Rilind ELEZAJ
In this techno savvy era, a smart device has become the most important instrument that performs numerous tasks in the age we are living in. Our transition and full integration of mobile technology shows that it is to here to stay and evolve.


Tech-driven insurance solutions to help bridge the USD 180 billion protection gap

2017 was an extreme year for natural disasters, with total losses from natural and man-made disasters expected to amount to USD 306 billion - up from USD 187 billion in 2016. The recent disasters draw attention to the enormous gap between what's insured, and what's not - we call this the protection gap, reads an analysis published by Swiss Re as part World Economic Forum Annual Meeting.


Can InsureTech survive in the GDPR era?

Insurers must be cautious in using the latest AI technologies, as GDPR introduces a series of obligations for the controllers, aimed at safeguarding the rights and freedoms of data subject. In the following article, we will address the most significant risks that the use of such technologies pose from the perspective of data protection.


Insurance digitalization: how to avoid disapointment?

Price pressure is the biggest barrier to revenue growth, said almost half of the 46 global insurers interviewed by Simon-Kucher & Partners for the 2017 Global Pricing and Sales Study. A third of them also stated that most planned price increases are slashed or not implemented at all.


How technology impacts the insurance sector

Rather than merely adding value to the insurance sector, technology and technical innovations are now determining its very growth and evolution. The last few years have seen mobile devices, GPS functionality and social media engagement impact hugely as to how insurance claims are processed by companies and policies assessed by insurance agents. Analysis of data and the value of legitimate customer interactions is more important than ever and have helped insurance companies to maximize profits while keeping the customers happy.


FRISS: Uncovering insurance fraudsters

If you compare the insurance fraud business to other types of business, it pays off to commit insurance fraud. The benefits are great, the chances of being caught are low, and the sanctions you get once caught are low as well. So, whether working in the claims, financial, underwriting or SIU department; you will all deal with fraud at some point. And it does not stop at an organization or a border. Fraudsters do market research. They use different modus operandi, use different insurers, fake identities; just to make sure that they don't get caught.



Public insurers appoint Achim Bosch to reinsurer board

The supervisory bodies of Deutsche Ruckversicherung AG and the Association of German Public Insurers decided today, to appoint Achim Bosch (53) to the executive board of the two reinsurers, where he will be responsible for non-life reinsurance.



HOEPKE, Munich Re: I expect at least a stable renewal round in 2019

After severe storm damage in Japan and the United States, Munich Re is looking with a little more optimism to the next renewal season. "I expect at least a stable renewal round in 2019," Board member Doris HOEPKE said in Baden-Baden. Until recently the reinsurer's expectations were leaning towards a stagnant season.



Five new XPRIMM insurance reports on the Baden Baden stands

Five new titles are available this year on the XPRIMM Baden-Baden press stands opened in the Kurhaus Casino and in Baden Baden main locations, presenting the latest statistical data and comprehensive analysis for the CEE, SEE and CIS insurance markets.


See all