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Big Data and Insurance
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Last Updated 1/8/18
Issue: As insurers collect more granular data about insurance consumers, state insurance regulators need greater insight into what data is available to the industry, how it is being used, and whether it should be used by insurers. While the use of big data can aid insurers’ underwriting, rating, marketing, and claim settlement practices, the challenge for insurance regulators is to examine whether it is beneficial or harmful to consumers. Additional consumer concerns include how collected data is safeguarded and how consumer privacy is maintained. Another issue with big data is state insurance regulators need data beyond what has been traditionally collected. State insurance regulators may need to collect more useful data (beyond financial and market conduct data collected today) to allow for greater insight into insurers’ models to further enhance regulation.
Background: The digital revolution has allowed for the collection and storage of large and diverse amounts of information. This data is referred to as big data because it is too complex for traditional data processing techniques. For insurance purposes, big data refers to unstructured and/or structured data being used to influence underwriting, rating, pricing, forms, marketing and claims handling. Structured data refers to data in tables and defined fields. Unstructured data, comprising most data, refers to things such as social media postings, typed reports and recorded interviews. Predictive analytics allows insurers to use big data to forecast future events. The process uses a number of techniques—including data mining, statistical modeling and machine learning—in its forecasts.
Insurers use big data in a number of ways. Insurers can use it to:
Big data has tremendous potential to positively affect insurers and consumers. However, all disruptive technologies bring challenges. Big data concerns include:
Status: As stated earlier, the age of big data brings both positive and negative impacts to society. The job of state insurance regulators is to ensure regulations and regulatory activities sufficiently protect consumers from harm. To assist with this, the NAIC created the Big Data (EX) Working Group of the Innovation and Technology (EX) Task Force. The Working Group held a public hearing during the 2016 NAIC Spring National Meeting. The hearing was the first step in obtaining a broad understanding of how big data is being used in the insurance industry, the impacts on consumers and how state insurance regulators can make use of it.
In 2017, the Working Group reviewed the current regulatory frameworks used to oversee insurers’ use of consumer and non-insurance data for needed revisions. There appears to be a need to improve the statutory and regulatory framework regarding insurers’ ability to use specific consumer data and the insurers’ use of such consumer data. In 2018, the Working Group will consider modifying the use of consumer data in marketing, underwriting, claims settlement, and pricing for property and casualty, health, and life/annuity products. Model law(s) and regulations regarding the use of consumer data may be considered in the process.
Sources: Big Data (D) Working Group Dec. 10, 2016, minutes accessed at www.naic.org/meetings1704/cmte_ex_bdwg_2017_spring_nm_materials.pdf and May 19, 2016, minutes accessed at www.naic.org/meetings1608/committees_d_big_data_wg_2016_summer_nm_materials.pdf.