Claims information found in unexpected places

Finding a way to unlock the data is part of a new insurance strategy Finding a way to unlock the data is part of a new insurance strategy

‘Claims’ is very much the name of the insurance game right now. With record insured losses in 2011, underwriting companies are upgrading the sometimes elderly software that is supposed to aid sound assessments.

Fineos, a provider of claims management software, says that the problem is not that insurers lack claims data; it is that they lack the ability to unlock the valuable information contained in their claims data.

Another important software provider, Sequel Business Solutions, is installing systems at insurance carriers and broking houses that facilitate the rapid collection of all pieces of information relevant to a claim, to get a better handle at the earliest possible stage on the level and type of exposures.

These days, more types of information than ever are around to help build a picture of an insured event, even within the private confines of port installations. So, what is called unstructured data such as news items, public statements by the parties, camera-phone shots and social media comments including ‘tweets,’ can be collected in an advance claims file ahead of and then alongside structured data i.e. the more traditional type of reports from loss adjusters and surveyors.

One of the most complex series of claims challenges will arise from the Costa Concordia casualty as it will prompt much dialogue between primary insurers (who will suffer less than many members of the public realise, because of the hedging of all big risk exposures) and the reinsurance sector.

Historically, the reinsurers were the drivers of premium rating, as they make good their finances by charging primary insurers more, but with the field widely recognised as being over-capitalised, they have latedly had more of a struggle.

The spate of natural calamities in the past two years has obliged carriers to dip into their reserves in the face of client and broker resistance to attempts to bring in dearer tariffs, although finally this year reinsurers including Hannover Re, Amlin and Beazley are reporting gradual increases in rates. The impact of the cruise ship disaster alone on premiums in the wider market is forecast to be slight.

For clients such as ports and terminal operators, the lesson is that Big Brother is watching you, sometimes in the form of their own closed circuit television. Through the proliferation of information, insurers have a better picture than ever of practices on the quayside, and will be able to assess each claim more minutely.

The ports industry as a whole has a good reputation, but operators seen to be at fault in any incident will be repaid with a blot on their claims record that will make it more pricey to find adequate cover.

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