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Leading the Data-Driven Insurance Landscape Forward

By Anthony Rivera, VP, Claims Vendor Management, Sompo International Insurance

In today’s insurance landscape, analytics is certainly a boon, helping insurance providers to dig deeper into the data, work more efficiently, and make well-informed decisions. Currently, there are several firms offering analytics services; some of them take a narrow data analysis approach while others take a broader approach. As the demand for accurate and real-time data grows, most of the current insurance service providers who weren’t data-driven or lacked data analytics, are now allowing their customers to access their data or data feed. In such a scenario, the major hurdle that holds insurance companies back is the inability to process the data for analysis, preventing business teams to quickly grasp and use the information.

"Analytics is not something that activates when you switch it on. It’s a journey to find the data, get access to that data, understand what that data represents, and reap a meaningful insight from the data"

To overcome these challenges, at Sompo International Insurance, we take a three-pronged approach. The first of the three approaches is internal training for employees in the context of data analysis. In the claims arena, we have highly educated, very seasoned employees specialized in investigating issues. So we need to train them on the interpretation of analyzed data. The second prong of this approach is ensuring a complete view of the data, which means we do not just look at claims, rather, at the entire loss history. We also look at policy information and update ourselves about the things that are happening in the market, in our line of business.

The third approach is to shift analytics from a backend task to a more prominent role in the front, making it accessible through a dashboard. It allows claims handlers to view and access all the data easily. These three approaches are the best possible way to overcome the data analytics challenges.

The Changing Insurance Landscape

A strong evolution is happening in the insurance space. It is not only because more players are entering the space to provide analytics services, but we are on the verge of a major shift in the way data analytics functions in the insurance sector. It is important to have a complete view of data and business processes, because, going forward, it will be crucial to leverage those insights.

We also have to consider that companies are becoming more agile, responsive, and proactive. Being proactive means thinking not just two steps down the road, but ten steps ahead. In the near future, we are not going to talk about data analysis; instead, we will look at what the end result will be. We are looking forward to reaping the rewards of the work we have done already.

Partnering with a Specific Vendor

As a vice president of claims vendor management, my objective is to support the claims division. Having served in this role for several years, I noticed that many of the insurance providers are still focused on the risk analysis and underwriting processes when it comes to insurance analytics.

However, my focus has always been on a more centralized view of data. When I talk to a vendor, I weigh them based on the holistic view of the data insight, with a special focus on claims. That is because there are a lot of unique issues that the claims division encounters. As a result, there is an immediate effect on the bottom line, whether it is claims reserving or from paying settlements. So, we need to understand that as a cost center, claims constantly focus on efficiency. This approach drives not only a good claim results for the insurance companies but also saves costs. In short, choosing the right vendor is a constant balancing act as to how efficient the vendor is and what technology they bring that can help the claims division directly.

Things to Know Before Choosing the Right Service Provider

There is a wealth of information buried within every insurance company. It is very important to look at your internal data governance. Even something as simple as field validation, can help keep the data clean and enable in-depth analysis down the road. While choosing the right vendor, it is imperative for organizations to understand what your objective is and what kind of information you currently have. Once you have answers to these questions, then you need to analyze whether you have access to the required data or whether it is buried somewhere within your current network. Then present that to a potential vendor, and see what additional information they can bring out from the existing network or what additional data they can provide that can help you get to the next level.

Leadership Principles

A true leader is the one who sees every challenge as an opportunity to learn and reap results. Apart from identifying opportunities, communication is extremely important. Communicate with your existing team, not just only with the vendor manager or claim supervisor. At Sompo, we have daily interaction program with our underwriters. We also talk to our brokers and service personnel. Communicate effectively with everybody across the division and take advantage of that to channel brainpower, knowledge, and experience. Because a second set of eyes and ears on the situation always helps.

You also need to understand that it is never too late for personal training. It is good to increase your knowledge on a particular topic; it benefits you by giving you a wide world view of not only your career but where you are in an organization. That is one of the most important things I would recommend. Finally, analytics is not something that activates when you switch it on. It’s a journey to find the data, get access to that data, understand what that data represents, and reap a meaningful insight from the data.

All-in-all, I would say that leveraging our knowledge and experience and bringing it to bear on the current situation, is not only a great baseline; it also gives you an understanding of potential pitfalls. Another thing to keep in mind is, before writing legacy platforms off, you need to see if the new technology can integrate with your current legacy applications and network. If yes, then it can give you not only a level of comfort but make the transition of technology a lot easier.

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