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Triple-I Blog | Insurance is human



Almost a year ago, I felt compelled to dispel the cliché that insurance is boring. In that blog post, I mentioned the idea that any industry that touches every imaginable risk facing individuals, families, businesses and communities can reasonably be considered boring.

Today—as I dig back into work after spending two days at the Society of Insurance Research (SIR) annual conference in Las Vegas—I feel similarly compelled to tackle another myth: that because of its focus on statistical analysis and the dollar. -and cent risk aspects, the insurance industry is out of touch with very real human concerns.

I get it. I am nobody̵

7;s quant. Until I was immersed in this large industry, I probably shared this perspective. I might even slip back into it now and then, when the conversations get a little too actuarial for my overly verbal nature.

In his opening remarks, Mike Meyers, SIR president and lead competitive analyst at USAA, used a phrase that the cynic in me thought was a little corny. He referred to the conference – the first major in-person event for SIR since the pandemic – as a “family reunion”. But as the event progressed, it certainly felt that way. This was my first in-person SIR event, but it quickly became apparent that this was not the case for most of the attendees. The warmth and familiarity among the over 200 participants was palpable.

Now this was a gathering of insurance industry researchers, so naturally there was going to be a lot of “numbers” and discussion about “leveraging technology to improve the loss experience” and so on. But the human dimension was never far from any of the panels or one-on-one conversations. Whether the topic was online life and health insurance shopping; the challenges of researching diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in insurance; or how COVID-19 has affected small business risk profiles, nothing was abstract or soulless about these conversations.

Two pieces that particularly struck me:

  • In a discussion of car safety data, a correlation was drawn between driving safety and fuel consumption statistics. It was just a chart that highlighted the fact that safer drivers use less fuel, which in turn has a positive impact on the environment. It’s not a big leap from there to the fact that car telematics technology – which helps insurers price caps more accurately and creates financial incentives to drive safer – also helps reduce emissions. Who doesn’t want to save money AND the planet?
  • If you’ve ever had to replace an entire roof (me!) because of a long, slow, undetected leak upstairs, the Smart Plumbing presentation would have excited you as much as it did me. More inspiring, however, was the win-win strategy implemented by the insurance company, which provides the easy-to-use technology for free and pays for a plumbing inspection if the diagnostic app flags a possible leak. Future large claims deterred for the insurer, massive headache prevented for the homeowner!

I may not be an actuary or a computer scientist or an economist—or possess any of the extraordinary quantitative skills that insurance is known for—but I’m glad that the industry marshals and rigorously applies these resources to such homely challenges, at scale.


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