By Stephanie Mitchell, CPCU, CIC, Socius Insurance Services
Advancements in the eld of technology continue to be characterized by offering increased economies of scale, reduction of inefficiencies and streamlined processing for insurance companies and consumers. These are all terms that have become fairly common buzzwords of the information technology industry. The importance here is to look a bit further and examine the realized benefits of enhanced disaster preparedness, organizational transparency and customer satisfaction with loss control and claims handling.
The Gen Y population typically accounts for one-fourth to one-third of the population in most markets. The influence that this population has on the future of technology is astounding. Insurance companies and their related subsidiaries are struggling to keep up with the expectations this generation holds as it relates to accessibility. It is crucial to realize the opportunity this creates for a shift in the insurance industry to become a technological leader in the financial services sector.
Advancements in technology have allowed for enhanced use of predictive analytics, telematics and catastrophe modeling software in the insurance industry. Catastrophe modeling uses computer based calculations and algorithms to estimate potential losses from a given catastrophic scenario. Using the example of hurricanes, it is a function of past storm paths, weather patterns and concentration of people and infrastructure in a given area. Predictive analytics uses information from existing data to determine patterns and predict future trends and outcomes. It is a forecast or prediction of what may happen in the future. Telematics deals with long distance transmission of data or information that is gathered through wireless technologies. This is most often used in the auto industry as it relates to insurance and can be applied to insurance terms and pricing as a result of driver performance or behavior. Vehicles are also equipped with telematic software that relays road and trac conditions to the driver so that they may decide to alter their route accordingly. Each of these uses of technology allow both insurance consumers and carriers to effectively minimize the impact of risk, which has created a huge opportunity to improve carrier performance, and underwriting results overall.
From an organizational standpoint, benefits of technology include more accurate record keeping, faster response time and processing of claims and increased transparency within the organization. From the standpoint of the consumer, it is important to remember that they are paying an insurance premium in exchange for the promise of indemnification. The reputation of the insurance company is typically proven when it comes to how they process and handle claims. This can be a very stressful and traumatic time for the insured, but technology can allow them to easily monitor their claim status and even allow instant connectivity to their adjuster to send photos and supporting documents. Some carriers even have smart phone apps that allow for all of this information to be submitted instantaneously. This again, has created a huge opportunity for insurance carriers to attract new customers and retain existing business by proving they understand their client’s expectations and needs as it relates to connectivity and transparency.
There are of course certain inherent risks that are associated with the additional opportunity that has been created. Examples of these include lack of privacy, data breach threats and cyber distortion which we have all heard about in headlines lately. Cyber-attacks rank within the top 10 risks in terms of likelihood and this seems to be the topic that is making news headlines most frequently with such identifiable breaches as Sony, Target and Home Depot. Overall, the opportunities that have been created by technological advancements strongly outweigh the risks associated with them, however it is important to identify these risks in order to effectively mitigate the affects they may have on society and the insurance industry worldwide.
Telematics for Insurance; Harnessing the Power of Predictive Analytics; Global Risks Report; http://www.forbes.com/sites/rawnshah/2013/01/19/technolog cal-risks-impacting-the-world-in-2013/