What we think

Our take on issues present and future.

  • Predictive modelling – a view from New York

    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
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  • Underwriting – the personal approach

    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
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  • Underwriting mental health

    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)
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  • Mental illness risk

    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
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  • Over-diagnosis

    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
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  • Interesting times in a land ‘down under’

    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
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  • Alcohol – a postscript

    The press release for the journal article1 referred to in our previous thoughtpiece has some interesting statistics relating to alcohol around the world as part of its ‘notes for editors’. The following relate to 2016.   Highest prevalence of alcohol consumption   Males   Females   Country Prevalence %   Country Prevalence % 1 Denmark 97.1 1 Denmark 95.3 2 Norway 94.3 2 Norway 91.4 3 Argentina 94.3 3 Germany
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  • Alcohol risk in perspective?

    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
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  • Underwriting engine banana skins

    SelectX has, over the years, been involved in a number of projects supporting underwriting rules engines (UREs). We have helped firms choose the best URE for their needs. This can involve defining business requirements, assessing the merits of different products based on objective criteria and short-listing contenders for in-depth consideration.   We have written rule sets for insurers, reinsurers and software providers. And we have carried out strategic reviews for
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  • Cancer risks: Are we getting them right?

    Researching cancer mortality over the past few months has proved to be a bit of an eye-opener, and in three ways: firstly the level of excess mortality seen in a number of cancers, secondly the duration over which an extra risk persists, and thirdly that excess mortality may extend over a considerable period.   Some of the high excess death rates (EDRs) were noted stage II/III disease, where mortality was
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