Release Your Imprisoned Data !!

Insurance companies could fuel years, if not decades, of rip-roaring bonfires with their inventory of hard-copy documents. Every department from underwriting to claims to legal (and for life insurers, medical) and other functional departments all have mountains of documents stored in file cabinets and desk drawers too numerous to count.

Each one of those documents encompasses significant information assets crying out to be freed from their paper prisons and released into a coherent digital infrastructure. As long as the information is held prisoner in their forms, only the jailer can access and use the assets frozen in place. Sharing across departments is done infrequently if at all. Sharing throughout the value chains that touch the field staff, producers, regulators and reinsurers is done mostly at the proverbial point of a gun.

Be Free, Data, Be Free!!

If all the data were set free from their hard-copy prisons and poured into coherent data structures that were tagged and searchable throughout the insurance company (including by stakeholders across all the value chains), what might we want to do?

  • Perhaps we could tag the various products with the terms, conditions, restrictions, endorsements or riders (depending on the flavor of insurance we are talking about) so that someone could search on any one of those attributes, Or
  • Each set of claim information could have descriptions of what the claim adjuster was thinking when s/he saw the loss occurrence – something relating to the magnitude of the impact or loss of the claimant’s property, Or
  • Product forms could have descriptions relating to why the product was created, the markets the insurer wanted to penetrate and the competitors the insurer was striving to gain market share from with that specific product
  • Underwriters could possibly attribute why they had stipulated the acceptance or rejection criteria for each product
  • Campaign data assets might have descriptions by the marketing department relating to the purpose and scope of each specific campaign
  • Customer service personnel could describe the tone and nature of the calls they have received from policyholders, prospects and producers for each communication event

What would you want to do or expect if your insurance company data were thawed out from their frozen cells and released into a collaborative environment?


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. One thing I would worry about would be HIPAA and SOX compliance. The medical data (and other business/personal data) you mentioned is heavily regulated, so it’s worth thinking about regulatory consequences.

    • I’m from the insurance industry and understand the compliance issues. But they can not stop us moving forward into the digital marketplace. It would be like slowing the transition from the horse-and-buggy to the modern automobile because we were worried about being able to drive faster.

      • Yes I agree it’s inevitable. Mainly I’m answering your final question, “what would you expect.” I expect companies that can free data into more collaborative environments to be careful in doing so; in the beginning the data useful to actuaries might be mined better, while more personal data is necessarily stripped. That could be because there is medical information which shouldn’t be shared widely, or because the company is worried about certain information being used in a lawsuit, or other reasons.

        Yes, those poor applications in the dusty cabinets. Imagine how many times they are re-entered into databases, printed, faxed, mailed, scanned, etc. Alas.

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