Monthly Archives: February 2014
  • DSM-V

    The publication of the fifth version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – usually referred to simply as ‘the DSM’ – is due round about the time you receive this edition of Underwriter e-Alert. (We’re naturally pleased but it may be only coincidence at work.) This mighty reference work from the American Psychiatric Association is not just the ‘bible’ by which psychiatric conditions are classified and diagnosed;
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  • The future of protection?

    This was the title of an interesting conference that took place in London in 2013. While it was focused on the UK, a number of the issues addressed are pertinent across the globe. So what is the future of the protection market – that is, primarily the market for term life? Or, possibly more fundamentally, does the protection market have a future?   There was lot of discussion around the
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  • The future of risk screening

    Several of the sessions at the ICLAM meeting at the end of May 2013 in Madrid dealt with predicting cardiovascular risk. The ECG, and especially the resting trace, is a pathetically weak tool alongside the heavyweight imaging techniques – but at least it’s cheap. Of modern, sophisticated tools like the stress echo, stress single-photon emission computed tomography (SPECT), stress MRI and CT coronary angiography, it is apparently the last-mentioned that
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  • Marketing-oriented underwriting

    The previous article illustrates the need to tailor the ‘underwriting mix’ to the rest of the marketing mix in order to create both an appealing customer proposition (and traditionally an appealing producer/broker proposition too) and a profitable source of revenue for the carrier. In the past, generally one underwriting mix would do – products were sold via intermediaries and there was seen to be little need to vary product design
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  • Underwriting meets marketing

    In marketing (by which we mean ‘running businesses profitably’ and not advertising/promotion, account management or selling stuff) they talk of ‘the four Ps’: Product Price ‘Place’ (ie distribution channel) Promotion.   Together these elements are known as the marketing mix, and they combine to form the basic proposition that is offered to customers; tailor the mix to your target audience and you have the right product at the right price,
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  • Insurability and HIV

    We were fortunate to attend two very good lectures on HIV/AIDS in 2013, one by Dr Daniel Zimmerman of Northwestern Mutual at the annual AHOU meeting, and the other, by Dr Rogelio López-Vélez, at the ICLAM meeting in Madrid. Both speakers described the HIV/AIDS spectrum and the impact of HAART (highly active antiretroviral treatment – now available in fixed-dose combinations as a single pill, which makes for much better patient
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  • How significant is cholesterol?

    Received wisdom is that cholesterol is a significant risk factor for the development of atherosclerosis, and for coronary heart disease (CHD) in particular. Bowden and Sinatra, in their book The Great Cholesterol Myth1, explain how historically too much importance has been attached to cholesterol as a cardiovascular (CV) risk factor, how lipid-lowering trials have yielded results that have been at best inconclusive, that eating saturated fat actually lowers serum cholesterol,
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  • When the applicant knows more…

    When the applicant knows more than the underwriter there is always a heightened risk of antiselection. In the past people didn’t know much about their health and wellbeing, but their physician did, which is why the APS has been such a valuable underwriting tool, such a reliable source of medical information.   For as long as it is available the APS should continue its role in the underwriter’s defensive armory,
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  • Not just predictive analytics: keep your eye on technology

    Predictive analytics (also referred to as ‘predictive modelling’): is it the future?   It is if you listen to firms that are taking a keen interest in, or even specialize in, ‘big data’. Firms like BioSignia, Deloitte, Towers Watson and Milliman are intent on getting the ear of carriers, and even reinsurers like RGA and Swiss Re are getting in on the act. According to Deloitte, there are 40 data
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