SelectX and CumPane Solutions announce a strategic partnership

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Not our thoughts exactly, but rather some news… SelectX and CumPane Solutions today announce the formation of strategic partnership to deliver market-leading automated underwriting solutions and consulting services to the life insurance market in North America. The life insurance industry is increasingly focused on providing a smoother buying experience and reducing the time and cost of underwriting, whilst maintaining a robust risk selection framework. A new range of accelerated products is emerging, combining algorithmic and rule-based approaches. Embedding domain expertise into these solutions is critical for success, in terms of both the customer experience and underwriting outcomes. The SelectX/CumPane partnership…

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Insurtech – and the game-changer is…?

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‘Insurtech’: our inboxes are full of news alerts, and hardly a day passes without a notable insurer or reinsurer somewhere commencing a digital initiative, applying artificial intelligence, partnering with a hi-tech high-flyer or investing in a digital/data/analytics start-up. Insurtech is big these days. And rightly so. Technology has the power to transform many aspects of our lives – hopefully in a good way – and to revolutionise how insurance is conducted, from application to claim payment. While a lot of the insurtech research and uptake has been in the property/casualty sphere, life and disability insurance, and of course the consumers…

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Predictive models – again

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A little while back we published an article about the circular letter issued in January to insurers by the New York State Department for Financial Services concerning the use of external consumer data and information sources for life insurance underwriting. On the face of it, the circular constitutes a stark warning for insurers and places severe restrictions on how they use data for risk assessment and pricing purposes. And in a way it is and it does, but its stipulations are not exactly unreasonable. Indeed, largely it makes pretty good sense. Indirect use of discrimination factors that are outlawed is…

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Underwriting – the personal approach

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When does personalisation go a step too far? We live in an era of mass customisation or mass personalisation, which is essentially a good thing – except, maybe, when your favourite baristas offer 30-odd permutations of coffee and you agonise over which to choose. In the world of insurance, personalisation must be right to the fore at claim time. The process must be about understanding the individual circumstances and the claimant’s needs, and addressing them accordingly. Maturities excepted, claims involve problems, and the aim of the insurer should be to minimise their impact as much as it can; if it…

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Predictive modelling – a view from New York

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By Jason Bowman, Founder & CEO, CumPane Solutions LLC On 19 January 2019, the New York State Department for Financial Services (DFS) issued a circular letter1 concerning the use of external consumer data and information sources for life insurance underwriting. This followed a prior notice sent to insurers that the Department was investigating the use of such data for potentially unfair or discriminatory practices. In the US the deployment of predictive models for life insurance has grown exponentially over the past five years, providing carriers with an opportunity to break out of the preferred underwriting ‘strait-jacket’ that has required anyone…

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Mental illness risk

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Our companion article discusses concerns from various quarters about the way insurers handle mental health risks and some of the underwriting practicalities. What sort of magnitude of risk does mental illness present? We offer a handful of observations drawn from dozens of journal articles in our research library. There is plenty of evidence that, generally, mortality is elevated in mental illness. That it should be so in the more severe forms such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder should be no surprise, but it is interesting to note that even milder conditions may present an extra risk. For example, in a…

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Underwriting mental health

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The underwriting of mental health conditions has always been notoriously difficult. To properly assess such applicants an underwriter needs to look at the complete picture of not only the applicant’s health but also factors such as employment record and support network. But in these days of increasing automation, insurers are under increasing pressure to accept as many cases as possible through an automated process, driving up their straight-through processing (STP) rates and keeping costs down. An engine-based process involves only a few drill-down questions. But mental health risks tend not to lend themselves to this approach very well, if at…

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Interesting times in a land ‘down under’

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Australia has always been an interesting market protection business-wise. And in the past few months it has become even more interesting. In 2016 there were some startling revelations on the ABC TV news programme Four Corners. The programme revealed a ‘disturbing culture’ at an insurer where critical illness and TPD claims were being denied. The firm’s ex-chief medical officer claimed that he was put under increasing pressure to deny claims. The Sydney Morning Herald reported the story as follows: ‘A joint investigation between BusinessDay’s Adele Ferguson and ABC’s Four Corners this week revealed doctors in the bank being pressured to change…

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Over-diagnosis

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In August 2018 the British Medical Journal published a lengthy review article1 dealing with the issue of over-diagnosis. This is defined as the diagnosis of a condition (often subsequently treated) that would otherwise not cause symptoms or harm to a patient during his or her lifetime. Over-diagnosis arises in a number of ways, including: The broadening of disease definitions via lowering of diagnostic thresholds and the recognition of risk factors as pre-diseases Greater use of technology and technological advances that improve testing sensitivity More widespread screening programmes Physicians’ over-estimation of the benefits of treatment in mild or low-risk disease Changing…

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Alcohol risk in perspective?

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The publication by The Lancet recently of an article discussing the risk to health posed by alcohol1 seems to have put paid for all time to the notion that moderate drinking does no harm or is even ‘good for you’. It has thus caused a bit of a stir in some quarters. The authors found that there was no ‘safe’ limit for consumption of alcohol and that even having one drink2 a day increases the risk of developing one of 23 alcohol-related health problems ranging from injury to liver disease and cancer. While alcohol may have a protective effect in…

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