Data & Analytics

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Kelly Sheridan
Kelly Sheridan
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Defining Big Data in P&C Insurance

Peter Hahn of Zurich North America explored the affects of data growth on commercial P&C insurers at this year's I&T Executive Summit.

As their data stores expand by the second, insurers struggle to generate useful sources of risk insight. This is the goal at Zurich North America, which has proven a frontrunner in the analytics space amidst the growth of big data.

Peter Hahn, the head of predictive analytics at Zurich, discussed the evolution of big data and its role in insurance at the Insurance & Technology Executive Summit 2014, held this past week in Bal Harbour, Fla. Attendees listened intently as Hahn explored the trends and challenges of big data for P&C insurers.

Hahn explained how commercial P&C insurance, specifically, has experienced tremendous growth in risk profiles due to the events it handles. In order to effectively handle this expansion, Zurich is thinking outside the box in terms of the data it uses.

“We’re looking beyond traditional sets of data,” Hahn said. Because commercial P&C insurers handle a broad range of risks, each of which has a diverse of range of data sources, Zurich leverages both structured and unstructured data sources.  

[More from the Summit: Yes, Insurers Are Innovative]

Insurers must consider the integrity and lineage of the data they handle, he continued, and the ability to demonstrate where the data originated, and how it has been transformed, is essential.

“The ability to trace data is critical to ensuring its credibility,” Hahn asserted. 

After collecting their data, insurers can derive value by focusing on the right topics, involving underwriters throughout the process, and ensuring that their information is both comprehensible and compelling to those who are using it. Transparency and simplicity are key when working with data, said Hahn.

He also noted the importance of the human element in data analytics and hiring the right talent to handle information. Employees should possess the ability to communicate, influence, and listen, and bring skills developed through relevant experience in handling data.

After they generate usable information through the data, employees should follow up with top-level employees to receive feedback on their data models. Their colleagues’ insights will help them build upon their data strategies.

Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio

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Kelly22
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Kelly22,
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11/21/2014 | 11:32:23 AM
Beyond traditional data
Peter made some great points in this presentation and really highlighted the challenge for insurers looking to better use their data. Ensuring the integrity of the data and leveraging it to produce actionable insight are no small feats. That's why it's so important to hire the right people for the job and obtain employees who not only have experience working with data, but can communicate their insights throughout the organization.
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