At Exceedance 2020, RMS explored the key forces currently disrupting the industry, from technology, data analytics and the cloud through to rising extremes of catastrophic events like the pandemic and climate change. This coupling of technological and environmental disruption represents a true inflection point for the industry. EXPOSURE asked six experts across RMS for their views on why they believe these forces will change everything Cloud Computing: Moe Khosravy, Executive Vice President, Software and Platforms How are you seeing businesses transition their workloads over to the cloud? I have to say it’s been remarkable. We’re way past basic conversations on the value proposition of the cloud to now having deep technical discussions that are truly transformative plays. Customers are looking for solutions that seamlessly scale with their business and platforms that lower their cost of ownership while delivering capabilities that can be consumed from anywhere in the world. Why is the cloud so important or relevant now? It is now hard for a business to beat the benefits that the cloud offers and getting harder to justify buying and supporting complex in-house IT infrastructure. There is also a mindset shift going on — why is an in-house IT team responsible for running and supporting another vendor’s software on their systems if the vendor itself can provide that solution? This burden can now be lifted using the cloud, letting the business concentrate on what it does best. Has the pandemic affected views of being in the cloud? I would say absolutely. We have always emphasized the importance of cloud and true SaaS architectures to enable business continuity — allowing you to do your work from anywhere, decoupled from your IT and physical footprint. Never has the importance of this been more clearly underlined than during the past few months. Risk Analytics: Cihan Biyikoglu, Executive Vice President, Product What are the specific industry challenges that risk analytics is solving or has the potential to solve? Risk analytics really is a wide field, but in the immediate short term one of the focus areas for us is improving productivity around data. So much time is spent by businesses trying to manually process data — cleansing, completing and correcting data — and on conversion between incompatible datasets. This alone is a huge barrier just to get a single set of results. If we can take this burden away, give decision-makers the power to get results in real time with automated and efficient data handling, then with that I believe we will liberate them to use the latest insights to drive business results. Another important innovation here are the HD Models™. The power of the new engine with its improved accuracy I believe is a game changer that will give our customers a competitive edge. How will risk analytics impact activities and capabilities within the market? As seen in other industries, the more data you can combine, the better the analytics become — that’s the universal law of analytics. Getting all of this data on a unified platform and combining different datasets unearths new insights, which could produce opportunities to serve customers better and drive profit or growth. What are the longer-term implications for risk analytics? In my view, it’s about generating more effective risk insights from analytics, results in better decision- making and the ability to explore new product areas with more confidence. It will spark a wave of innovation to profitably serve customers with exciting products and understand the risk and cost drivers more clearly. How is RMS capitalizing on risk analytics? At RMS, we have the pieces in place for clients to accelerate their risk analytics with the unified, open platform, Risk Intelligence™, which is built on a Risk Data Lake™ in the cloud and is ready to take all sources of data and unearth new insights. Applications such as Risk Modeler™ and ExposureIQ™ can quickly get decision-makers to the analytics they need to influence their business. Open Standards: Dr. Paul Reed, Technical Program Manager, RDOS Why are open standards so important and relevant now? I think the challenges of risk data interoperability and supporting new lines of business have been recognized for many years, as companies have been forced to rework existing data standards to try to accommodate emerging risks and to squeeze more data into proprietary standards that can trace their origins to the 1990s. Today, however, with the availability of big data technology, cloud platforms such as RMS Risk Intelligence and standards such as the Risk Data Open Standard™ (RDOS) allow support for high-resolution risk modeling, new classes of risk, complex contract structures and simplified data exchange. Are there specific industry challenges that open standards are solving or have the potential to solve? I would say that open standards such as the RDOS are helping to solve risk data interoperability challenges, which have been hindering the industry, and provide support for new lines of business. In the case of the RDOS, it’s specifically designed for extensibility, to create a risk data exchange standard that is future-proof and can be readily modified and adapted to meet both current and future requirements. Open standards in other industries, such as Kubernetes, Hadoop and HTML, have proven to be catalysts for collaborative innovation, enabling accelerated development of new capabilities. How is RMS responding to and capitalizing on this development? RMS contributed the RDOS to the industry, and we are using it as the data framework for our platform called Risk Intelligence. The RDOS is free for anyone to use, and anyone can contribute updates that can expand the value and utility of the standard — so its development and direction is not dependent on a single vendor. We’ve put in place an independent steering committee to guide the development of the standard, currently made up of 15 companies. It provides benefits to RMS clients not only by enhancing the new RMS platform and applications, but also by enabling other industry users who create new and innovative products and address new and emerging risk classes. Pandemic Risk: Dr. Gordon Woo, Catastrophist How does pandemic risk affect the market? There’s no doubt that the current pandemic represents a globally systemic risk across many market sectors, and insurers are working out both what the impact from claims will be and the impact on capital. For very good reasons, people are categorizing the COVID-19 disease as a game-changer. However, in my view, SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome] in 2003, MERS [Middle East respiratory syndrome] in 2012 and Ebola in 2014 should also have been game-changers. Over the last decade alone, we have seen multiple near misses. It’s likely that suppression strategies to combat the coronavirus will probably continue in some form until a vaccine is developed, and governments must strike this uneasy balance between their economies and the opening of their populations to exposure from the virus. What are the longer-term implications of this current pandemic for the industry? It’s clear that the mitigation of pandemic risk will need to be prioritized and given far more urgency than before. There’s no doubt in my mind that events such as the 2014 Ebola crisis were a missed opportunity for new initiatives in pandemic risk mitigation. Away from the life and health sector, all insurers will need to have a better grasp on future pandemics, after seeing the impact of COVID-19 and its wide business impact. The market could look to bold initiatives with governments to examine how to cover future pandemics, similar to how terror attacks are covered as a pooled risk. How is RMS helping its clients in relation to COVID-19? Since early January when the first cases emerged from Wuhan, China, we’ve been supporting our clients and the wider market in gaining a better understanding of the diverse loss implications of COVID-19. Our LifeRisks® team has been actively assisting in pandemic risk management, with regular communications and briefings, and will incorporate new perspectives from COVID-19 into our infectious diseases modeling. Climate Change: Ryan Ogaard, Senior Vice President, Model Product Management Why is climate change so relevant to the market now? There are many reasons. Insurers and their stakeholders are looking at the constant flow of catastrophes, from the U.S. hurricane season of 2017, wildfires in California and bushfires in Australia, to recent major typhoons and wondering if climate change is driving extreme weather risk, and what it could do in the future. They’re asking whether the current extent of climate change risk is priced into their premiums. Regulators are also beginning to conduct stress tests on the potential impact of climate change in the future, and insurers must respond. How will climate change impact how the market operates? Similar to any risk, insurers need to understand and quantify how the physical risk of climate change will impact their portfolios and adjust their strategy accordingly. Also, over the coming years it appears likely that regulators will incorporate climate change reporting into their regimes. Once an insurer understands their exposure to climate change risk, they can then start to take action — which will impact how the market operates. These actions could be in the form of premium changes, mitigating actions such as supporting physical defenses, diversifying the risk or taking on more capital. How is RMS responding to market needs around climate change? RMS is listening to the needs of clients to understand their pain points around climate change risk, what actions they are taking and how we can add value. We’re working with a number of clients on bespoke studies that modify the current view of risk to project into the future and/or test the sensitivity of current modeling assumptions. We’re also working to help clients understand the extent to which climate change is already built into risk models, to educate clients on emerging climate change science and to explain whether there is or isn’t a clear climate change signal for a particular peril. Cyber: Dr. Christos Mitas, Vice President, Model Development How is this change currently manifesting itself? While cyber risk itself is not new, for anyone involved in protecting or insuring organizations against cyberattacks, they will know that the nature of cyber risk is forever evolving. This could involve changes in those perpetrating the attacks, from lone wolf criminals to state-backed actors or the type of target from an unpatched personal computer to a power-plant control system. If you take the current COVID-19 pandemic, this has seen cybercriminals look to take advantage of millions of employees working from home or vulnerable business IT infrastructure. Change to the threat landscape is a constant for cyber risk. Why is cyber risk so important and relevant right now? Simply because new cyber risks emerge, and insurers who are active in this area need to ensure they are ahead of the curve in terms of awareness and have the tools and knowledge to manage new risks. There have been systemic ransomware attacks over the last few years, and criminals continue to look for potential weaknesses in networked systems, third-party software, supply chains — all requiring constant vigilance. It’s this continual threat of a systemic attack that requires insurers to use effective tools based on cutting-edge science, to capture the latest threats and identify potential risk aggregation. How is RMS responding to market needs around cyber risk? With our latest RMS Cyber Solutions, which is version 4.0, we’ve worked closely with clients and the market to really understand the pain points within their businesses, with a wealth of new data assets and modeling approaches. One area is the ability to know the potential cyber risk of the type of business you are looking to insure. In version 4.0, we have a database of over 13 million businesses that can help enrich the information you have about your portfolio and prospective clients, which then leads to more prudent and effective risk modeling. A Time to Change Our industry is undergoing a period of significant disruption on multiple fronts. From the rapidly evolving exposure landscape and the extraordinary changes brought about by the pandemic to step-change advances in technology and seismic shifts in data analytics capabilities, the market is undergoing an unparalleled transition period. As Exceedance 2020 demonstrated, this is no longer a time for business as usual. This is what defines leaders and culls the rest. This changes everything.
Over the past 15 years, revolutionary technological advances and an explosion of new digital data sources have expanded and reinvented the core disciplines of insurers. Today’s advanced analytics for insurance push far beyond the boundaries of traditional actuarial science. The opportunity for the industry to gain transformational agility in analytics is within reach. EXPOSURE examines what can be learnt from other sectors to create more analytics-driven organizations and avoid ‘DRIP’. Many (re)insurers seeking a competitive edge look to big data and analytics (BD&A) to help address a myriad of challenges such as the soft market, increasing regulatory pressures, and ongoing premium pressures. And yet amidst the buzz of BD&A, we see a lack of big data strategy specifically for evolving pricing, underwriting and risk selection, areas which provide huge potential gains for firms. IMAGINE THIS LEVEL OF ANALYTICAL CAPABILITY PROVIDED IN REAL-TIME AT THE POINT OF UNDERWRITING; A UTOPIA MANY IN THE INDUSTRY ARE SEEKING While there are many revolutionary technological advances to capture and store big data, organizations are suffering from ‘DRIP’– they are data rich but information poor. This is due to the focus being on data capture, management, and structures, at the expense of creating usable insights that can be fed to the people at the point of impact – delivering the right information to the right person at the right time Other highly regulated industries have found ways to start addressing this, providing us with sound lessons on how to introduce more agility into our own industry using repeatable, scalable analytics. Learning From Other Industries When you look across organizations or industries that have got the BD&A recipe correct, three clear criteria are evident, giving good guidance for insurance executives building their own analytics-driven organizations: Delivering Analytics to the Point of Impact In the healthcare industry, the concept of the back-office analyst is not that common. The analyst is a frontline worker – the doctor, the nurse practitioner, the social worker, so solutions for healthcare are designed accordingly. Let’s look within our own industry at the complex role of the portfolio manager. This person is responsible for large, diverse sets of portfolios of risk that span multiple regions, perils and lines of business. And the role relies heavily on having visibility across their entire book of business. A WILLIS TOWERS WATSON SURVEY REVEALS THAT LESS THAN 45 PER CENT OF U.S. PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE EXECUTIVES ARE USING BIG DATA FOR EVOLVING PRICING, UNDERWRITING AND RISK SELECTION. THIS NUMBER IS EXPECTED TO JUMP TO 80 PERCENT IN TWO YEARS’ TIME Success comes from insights that give them a clear line of sight into the threats and opportunities of their portfolios – without having to rely on a team of technical analysts to get the information. They not only need the metrics and analytics at their disposal to make informed decisions, they also need to be able to interrogate and dive into the data, understand its underlying composition, and run scenarios so they can choose what is the right investment choice. If for every analysis, they needed a back-office analyst or IT supporter to get a data dump and then spend time configuring it for use, their business agility would be compromised. To truly become an analytics-driven organization, firms need to ensure the analytics solutions they implement provide the actual decision-maker with all the necessary insights to make informed decisions in a timely manner. Ensuring Usability Usability is not just about the user interface. Big data can be paralyzing. Having access to actionable insights in a format that provides context and underlying assumptions is important. Often, not only does the frontline worker need to manage multiple analytics solutions to get at insights, but even the user persona for these systems is not well defined. At this stage, the analytics must be highly workflow-driven with due consideration given to the veracity of the data to reduce uncertainty. Consider the analytics tools used by doctors when diagnosing a patient’s condition. They input standard information – age, sex, weight, height, ethnicity, address – and the patient’s symptoms, and are provided not with a defined prognosis but a set of potential diagnoses accompanied by a probability score and the sources. Imagine this level of analytical capability provided in real-time at the point of underwriting; a Utopia many in the industry are seeking that has only truly been achieved by a few of the leading insurers. In this scenario, underwriters would receive a submission and understand exactly the composition of business they were taking on. They could quickly understand the hazards that could affect their exposures, the impact of taking on the business on their capacity – regardless of whether it was a probabilistically–modeled property portfolio, or a marine book that was monitored in a deterministic way. They could also view multiple submissions and compare them, not only based on how much premium could be bought in by each, but also on how taking on a piece of business could diversify the group-level portfolio. The underwriter not only has access to the right set of analytics, they also have a clear understanding of other options and underlying assumptions. Integration Into the Common Workflow To achieve data nirvana, BD&A output needs to integrate naturally into daily business-as-usual operations. When analytics are embedded directly into the daily workflow, there is a far higher success rate of it being put to effective use. A good illustration is customer service technology. Historically, customer service agents had to access multiple systems to get information about a caller. Now all their systems are directly integrated into the customer service software – whether it is a customer rating and guidance on how best to handle the customer, or a ranking of latest offers they might have a strong affinity for. SKILLED UNDERWRITERS WANT ACCESS TO ANALYTICS THAT ALLOW THEM TO DERIVE INSIGHTS TO BE PART OF THE DAILY WORKFLOW FOR EVERY RISK THEY WRITE It is the same principle in insurance. It is important to ensure that whatever system your underwriter, portfolio manager, or risk analyst is using, is built and designed with an open architecture. This means it is designed to easily accept inputs from your legacy systems or your specific intellectual property-intensive processes. Underwriting is an art. And while there are many risks and lines of business that can be automated, in specialty insurance there is a still a need for human-led decision-making. Specialty underwriters combine the deep knowledge of the risks they write, historical loss data, and their own underwriting experience. Having good access to analytics is key to them, and they need it at their fingertips – with little reliance on technical analysts. Skilled underwriters want access to analytics that allow them to derive insights to be part of the daily workflow for every risk they write. Waiting for quarterly board reports to be produced, which tell them how much capacity they have left, or having to wait for another group to run the reports they need, means it is not a business-as-usual process. How will insurers use big data? Survey of property and casualty insurance executives (Source: Willis Towers Watson)