Big Data: The Ace of the Insurance Industry

placeit (1) (1)By: Jason T. Andrew

Today, your car is just a mode of transportation. In the not too distant future, however, your car might not only take you from place to place, but also be a tool for insurance companies to measure driving habits, risk, and connected data output.

Or imagine if, in this same future, insurers made decisions about insurance coverage, claims, or rates based on data aggregated from mobile devices or social media.

The fact is, big data is interfacing with the technology touchpoints of our lives, quickly transforming how we consume information and make decisions.  We’re seeing the impact of big data on the insurance field as well. I recently attended the Silicon Valley Innovation Center’s Disrupting Insurance with Big Data Analytics event in San Francisco, which spotlighted the latest changes in the insurance industry and featured big data, data scientists, and all things analytics front and center.  The event underscored how these changes are being fully embraced by an industry challenged, as never before, to do better.

Paul Carroll, CEO of and keynote speaker, made two important observations:

“ALL the data that you will ever need about an individual will be available as data sets in the next 5-10 years. How will you use that data?”

And: “No one wants to buy insurance. The winners will be those who sell less of it. How do you help people learn how to manage and reduce risk?”

Whether they offer property & casualty, life, health, or car insurance, insurers today are all using data to drive decision-making. Moreover, data is changing the insurance process, from the way consumers research and purchase insurance to the way claims are underwritten. As a result, companies large and small are sprinting to keep up with the demand for agile, seamless, and integrated technology platforms that can harness this growing data volume and extract real value from it. This has led insurers to partner with data scientists and startup technologists so that they can continue to innovate and stay ahead of the competition.

What sets insurance companies apart in today’s crowded market? The differentiator comes down to the user experience. What underpins this user experience? Data. Those companies which can take complex data from multiple sources and present it in a way that any user can understand will be the solutions that gain traction.

The largest carriers are now paying attention to big data, spending more money on research and bringing on data scientists to figure out—and shape—the future of insurance. But this much is clear already:  the companies which can use data to create an exceptional user experience are the ones to watch.