28 February 2014News

ACE: big data is a ‘long-term arms race’

Insurers need to get serious about ‘big data’ or else they risk becoming uncompetitive and ultimately irrelevant.

That is the view of Andrew Kendrick, president of ACE European Group, speaking at the Economist’s Insurance Summit 2014, who argues that all players need to prepare for the coming revolution in data and technology.

“We need to prepare for a long-term arms race when it comes to ‘big data’. Currently there is a mismatch between awareness and action.” The industry must do more to bridge that gap, he says.

At present the brokers are spearheading data capture, but all segments of the industry need to take ‘big data’ seriously, says Kendrick.

“Those that don’t capture ‘big data’ will become uncompetitive and ultimately irrelevant”.

Kendrick says that ‘big data’ has the potential to unlock opportunities such as live claims and underwriting intelligence that will enable insurers and reinsurers to have increasingly constructive conversations with clients. “Big data could make real time pricing a reality and revolutionise what the industry does”.

He took the opportunity to make a call to arms within the industry to get serious about the potential of emerging technology and data and its potentially transformative capacity within the insurance industry.

Data as an asset class

His views were echoed by Mark Wilson, group CEO of Aviva, who warns that insurers need to prepare for the “relentless pace of change” that ‘big data’ will usher in and argues that the rapid development of data and technology may yet result in the emergence of “agile competitors” outside the traditional insurance markets.

Wilson says that insurers and reinsurers “need to consider data as the new asset class”.

“We are a data-driven industry and as technology develops we can expect clients to expect better underwriting, more personalised quotes and faster claims handling as a result of data and technology.”

He says that with this potential to mine data will inevitably come with responsibility, citing the recent theft of data at Aviva as a case in point. “As an industry we all need to be serious about, and responsible for, our data.”