Almost a year ago I felt compelled to dispel the stereotype that insurance is boring. In this blog post, I have exposed the idea that any industry that faces every imaginable danger that individuals, families, businesses, and communities face could reasonably be considered boring.
Today — as I burrow back to work after two days at the Society of Insurance Research (SIR) annual conference in Las Vegas — I feel similarly compelled to confront another myth: that because it relates to statistical analysis and the dollars focused-and-cent aspects of risk, the insurance industry is out of touch with very real human concerns.
I get it. I’m nobody’s quant. Until I dived into this big numbers industry, I probably shared that perspective. I might even slip back in from time to time when the conversations get a little too actuarial for my overly verbal nature.
In his opening remarks, Mike Meyers, SIR President and USAA’s senior competition analyst, used a phrase that the cynic in me thought was a bit silly. He described the conference – the first major in-person event for SIR since the pandemic – as a “family reunion.” However, as the event progressed, it really felt like it. This was my first in-person SIR event, but it quickly became apparent that most attendees were not. The warmth and familiarity among the more than 200 participants was palpable.
Well, this was a gathering of insurance industry researchers, so naturally there was a lot of ‘numbers talk’ and discussion of ‘using technology to improve the claims experience’ and so on. But the human dimension has never been far from the panels or one-on-ones. Whether the topic was online shopping for life and health insurance; the challenges of researching diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in insurance; or how COVID-19 has impacted small business risk profiles, nothing about these conversations was abstract or soulless.
Two little things that caught my eye:
- In a discussion of automotive safety data, a correlation was drawn between driving safety and fuel economy statistics. It was just a chart underlining the fact that safer drivers use less fuel, which in turn has a positive impact on the environment. From there, it’s not a huge leap to the fact that automotive telematics technology — which helps insurers more accurately calculate coverage and provide financial incentives for safer driving — is also helping to reduce emissions. Who doesn’t want to save money AND the planet?
- If you’ve ever had to replace an entire ceiling (I have!) because of a long, slow, undetected leak upstairs, you would have loved the Smart Plumbing presentation as much as I did. More inspiring, however, was the insurer’s win-win strategy, which provides the easy-to-use technology for free and pays for a plumbing inspection when the diagnostic app shows a possible leak. Future major damage deterred for the insurer, massive headaches for the homeowner prevented!
I may not be an actuary, data scientist, or economist — or possess none of the extraordinary quantitative skills that insurance companies are known for — but I’m glad the industry marshals are rigorously applying these resources to such intimate challenges at scale.