Canadian Underwriter

Data veracity critical to insurers: Accenture Report


April 25, 2018   by Staff


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technology-01A new report from Accenture (NYSE: ACN) has found that as data becomes more critical to insurance companies’ operations, most insurers can improve how they validate data and combat data manipulation by outside stakeholders.

The report, Technology Vision for Insurance 2018, draws on the analysis of a technology advisory board, interviews with technology luminaries and industry experts, and a survey of more than 600 insurance executives.

Among its key findings: Only 26 percent of insurers currently validate their data to some extent, while another 19 percent try to validate it but are unsure of the quality. This is particularly surprising given that four-fifths (82 percent) of respondents believe that their organizations must innovate at an increasingly rapid pace just to maintain a competitive edge — and maintaining this edge will likely involve access to new data sources, according to the report.

As insurers rely more on data to make key business decisions, they must identify and prevent ways stakeholders could manipulate data for their benefit. One-third (34 percent) of the insurers surveyed have been the target of practices such as bot fraud, spoofed sensor data or falsified location data, while another third (32 percent) believe they most likely experienced such an attack but couldn’t verify it. The report notes that uncovering processes that inadvertently incentivize data manipulation is a key step to improving the truth and trust in data that insurers use for key decisions.

“With their industry on the edge of disruption, insurers are feeling the pressure to reinvent their businesses, and the influx of customer data from new technologies presents ample opportunities to help do so,” said Michael Costonis, who leads Accenture’s Insurance practice globally. “But insurers must carefully consider how they verify, protect and use this data. In addition to addressing the security and ethics of data use, they must have appropriate data-grading capabilities to ensure the accuracy of the data they’re using to make crucial business decisions. Insurers have the opportunity to improve trust levels with consumers, incentivize them to share their data, and showcase that this data will be used responsibly.”

“Data Veracity” is one of five trends the report showcases that could generate the next wave of industry disruption for insurers and how technological change will rewrite the rules of the industry over the next decade. Another is “Citizen AI,” which highlights how the rapid evolution and adoption of AI will require insurers and other businesses to “raise” AI to act responsibly.

According to the report, enabling AI systems to make crucial business decisions autonomously requires that the data on which the systems are based is verified properly. This is particularly important, given that more than three-quarters (77 percent) of the insurance executives surveyed acknowledge that AI is advancing faster than the pace at which their organization is adopting the technology.

The report suggests that insurers build their own data intelligence practice to ensure data veracity. This group would draw from existing data science and cybersecurity capabilities to grade the truth within data, determine the embedded risk across a portfolio of data supply chains, and set standards for how much risk is acceptable, based on business priorities and the implications of automated decisions.

“Data has always been the lifeblood of the insurance industry, helping carriers make better pricing, risk and operational decisions,” Costonis said. “And the benefits of accurate, real-time data to consumers could be tremendous; incentivizing customers to reduce their exposure to risks and helping them avoid incurring losses in the first place. But for all the opportunities data presents, there are real risks if insurers aren’t properly validating their data. Thankfully, there are steps insurers can take now, including building a data intelligent practice to inspire confidence in their data grading capabilities and combat the risks from manipulated data.”

A full copy of Accenture’s Insurance Technology Vision 2018 can be accessed here: https://www.accenture.com/US-EN/insight-insurance-technology-vision-2018

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This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.