As data quality challenges continue to hinder insurers and reinsurers, Swiss Re is looking to overcome some of the inefficiencies and develop a habitat in which valuable data is discoverable, accessible, and trusted.
This is according to Swiss Re’s inaugural Chief Data Officer, Ian Haycock, who spoke with Reinsurance News recently about the importance of data to Swiss Re and the broader industry, with a view to advancing business models and improving the sector for both carriers and clients.
For the past year, Haycock has been creating and steering implementation of a data and analytics strategy at Swiss Re. It’s a truly massive topic, he explained, and one that covers an array of themes from security, compliance, technology and analytics, to non-technical topics such as culture, mindset, skills and so on.
“One of our key ambitions is we want to create what we call a single source of truth data environment, so that data is easily discoverable, available and trusted,” said Haycock.
“A lot of companies have data quality problems – people are not sure if what they’re looking at is right and they need to reconcile it to something else, which is creating inefficiencies. There’s a lot of that in the industry, and there’s a lot of opportunity to clean that up,” he continued.
Haycock went on to explain that ideally, Swiss Re wants to represent, to the maximum extent possible, its business as data. According to Haycock, this includes everything the reinsurer does in insurance and reinsurance, end-to-end whilst fully respecting all laws, of course, and client needs.
“We should be able to analyse our business from any perspective,” he said. “So, as an example, I should be able to open a claims adjustment report and I can trace the full history of the contract from the original submission to quote, to any reserves which are assigned to it. I can see how that contract fits into a line of business in a portfolio. I can see how it matches up against our risk appetite and so on.
“There are a lot of opportunities to do that seamlessly if you get your data story right.”
Over the past five years or so, the use of data and advanced analytics, enabled by the rise of technology, has seen the development of improved models for things like pricing and also the introduction of new business models.
This, according to Haycock, has enabled companies to move from “risk transfer to also add risk management services,” where they’re able to provide more insights and focus more on prevention, which ultimately means more tailored, better products for customers.
But as well as new business models and products, how can data be leveraged to enhance existing solutions and models that are in the market?
In Haycock’s mind, there’s four themes: clients, profitability of the business, steering the business, and efficiency.
“If I look at what we do for our clients, we’re in the business of risks, so we’re helping clients to deal with their risks. If we can further augment our intelligence, if we can derive new insights from data, we can provide new solution ideas for the clients. Maybe reveal possibilities beyond just the insurance that they had in mind. So, for example, if we can help our clients understand what may drive their risk, they can move to prevent it rather than just insuring it in case it might happen.
“If you look at the world in a more data centric way, you can join up problems that you previously may not have seen as easily relatable,” said Haycock.
Of course, profitability is vitally important for any company and here, Haycock feels that there’s an opportunity to go even further with the models and really improve pricing accuracy.
“We can understand the risks better. We can see market opportunities sooner. And you can also improve the core fundamental engine of the company. So, for insurance companies, things such as how they do reserving, how they do asset liability management, one can improve this through data,” he said.
On efficiency, Haycock emphasised the need to improve data quality and to get to a single source of truth that individuals can use across a company.
“Actually, people should be spending more time looking at data, generating insights from data, rather than just gathering it and trying to make sure it’s right. That’s a big change, I think, a big opportunity.
“And, when I think about how a company is run, one should be able to analyse, in my opinion , the performance of a company and the risks from any perspective on demand. If we can really represent our business as data, and sometimes you hear this phrase called a digital twin, you might indeed have that possibility,” he said.
Concluding that, “there’s real opportunity for data to truly improve the industry and the product and the services we offer. The end consumer can benefit significantly from this investment into data and insights derived from data.”