Canadian Underwriter

Mutuals must invest in systems, commit to a data strategy: OMIA head

March 26, 2015   by Angela Stelmakowich, Editor

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“Data is a major enabler in innovation in new products and markets,” demanding that mutuals commit to developing a data strategy, John Taylor, president and CEO of the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association (OMIA), said Thursday.

Mutuals must continue to invest in data-based systems, Ontario Mutual Insurance Association president and CEO saysMutuals must continue to make investments in data-based systems that allow use of analytical tools, continue to work together to pool their data, and look for opportunities to standardize and improve data collection on every level, Taylor told attendees of OMIA’s annual general meeting in downtown Toronto.

“It’s increasingly clear that the future of the North American consumer economy – not just the insurance economy – is focused on collecting information about consumers based on their buying patterns and demographic profile,” he said.

There is a difference between statistics and data, Taylor explained. “Statistics are really what we collect to report to and satisfy regulators, while data is what we collect to understand our interests and make sound decisions,” he noted.

John Taylor, president and CEO of the Ontario Mutual Insurance AssociationTaylor (pictured right) told attendees that OMIA’s focus is moving more to the data side of the equation. “With insurance products, this reliance on consumer data is even more significant because insurance is based on probabilities, and the more data we have, the more predictive we can become. This allows you to underwrite and set premiums with greater skill. This ability is already becoming a game-changer in Canada,” he said.

Taylor pointed out that two of the most innovative insurance products introduced in the marketplace – telematics and flood insurance – are almost completely data-driven products.

Acknowledging that mutuals have made major investments in the collection and analysis systems for statistics and data over the past several years, more still needs to be done.

The focus must be on improving the “data collection profile so that we can use our aggregated data across all of the mutuals,” Taylor said. “By aggregating our data as a system, credible and reasonable information can be analyzed and used to improve both individual and company performance, and performance across the system,” he emphasized.

Technology must combine with human element, outgoing chair saysDeb Van Eyk, outgoing chair of OMIA’s Board of Directors, noted that technology holds a lot of promise.

“Technology is the enabler for us to deal with the customer in the manner that they want,” Van Eyk told attendees. “But we also need the power of people, that human element, that human emotion,” she emphasized.

“I think that really is the key for us going forward and what makes the future so powerful, developing that customer-centric mentality. What do our customers want from us? How can we best harness technology to deliver on it?” she said.

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