Insurtech – and the game-changer is…?

By Uncategorized

‘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…

Read More

Predictive modelling – a view from New York

By Uncategorized

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…

Read More

Underwriting – the personal approach

By Uncategorized

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…

Read More

Underwriting mental health

By Uncategorized

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…

Read More

Mental illness risk

By Uncategorized

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…

Read More

Over-diagnosis

By Uncategorized

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…

Read More

Interesting times in a land ‘down under’

By Uncategorized

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…

Read More

Alcohol – a postscript

By Uncategorized

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 90.0 4 Germany 94.3 4 Argentina 89.9 5 Poland 93.8 5 New Zealand 88.5 6 France 93.1 6 Switzerland 88.4 7 South Korea 91.3 7 Slovakia 87.2 8 Switzerland 91.2 8 France 86.9…

Read More

Alcohol risk in perspective?

By Uncategorized

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…

Read More

Underwriting engine banana skins

By Uncategorized

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 firms who already had a URE in place and were looking to optimise its performance. So over the years we have identified a number of potential banana skins that can disrupt…

Read More