Monthly Archives: September 2014

Baby Girl


The primary intent of my social media posts is to highlight topics related to the risk management and insurance industry.  I have tried to mix it up and keep things interesting by occasionally introducing topics that may not immediately seem to be related to risk and insurance, and then making some sort of connection.  Today’s post is not one of those posts.

Sometimes, it’s just good to consider the blessings and miracles of life, and a new baby is at the top of the list when it comes to blessings and miracles.  Well, today I am a very proud first-time grandfather as I welcome Kendall Nicole into the world.  Words cannot describe the feelings and emotions right now.  I close this post by sharing this which describes 25 things that we take for granted but that my new granddaughter may never know in her lifetime.  It’s a testament to how rapidly the world changes with each generation.

Welcome to the world little Kendall.

Big Data – Big Risk?


It’s a match made in heaven – or so it seems.  “Big data” is the term commonly used to refer to the incredibly massive (and still growing) pool of data generated from the digital footprints of our daily lives.  It has evolved beyond the basic retail point-of-sale data on what we buy and where.  Now, big data includes many of our online actions, mobile phone activity, health information from our fitness trackers or smart watches, and all manner of information from the “internet of things” that increasingly permeate our lives.  Surely, all of this data can be used to more accurately assess risk and therefore more efficiently underwrite the insurance of those risks.

This recent Business Insurance article highlights the possibilities of big data and touts the potential benefits of reducing premium costs to consumers while simultaneously improving insurer loss ratios.  Last year, I read Eric Siegel’s book, Predictive Analytics: The Power to Predict Who Will Click, Buy, Lie, or Die, which I highly recommend.  Mr. Siegel described how big data and the associated predictive analytics methodologies were used in President Obama’s successful 2012 reelection bid, and in improving Netflix’s movie recommendations.  Mr. Siegel included several examples of big data and predictive analytics at work, including the Target public relations snafu when they predicted a teenage pregnancy based on buying patterns and inadvertently informed the girl’s father of his daughter’s pregnancy before she did.  The book also described a life insurer who used big data to predict the likelihood of death within 18 months for its elderly policyholders.  Fascinating.  And a little creepy.

My purpose in raising this topic is that I believe we are in the midst of one of those historical moments when our technological capabilities have outpaced the evolution of our societal norms. We clearly have the data and the methods to predict more outcomes more accurately than ever before, but we struggle with the “creepy factor” which is just another way of expressing the inherent privacy concerns.  Do we really want to know when grandma is likely in her final 18 months of life?  Will we rejoice in lower life insurance premiums enough to live comfortably with the fact that our daily activities (and perhaps even our whereabouts) may be reported directly to the insurer by the device we wear on our wrist?  As an industry, is the appeal of big data so great that insurers will accept the cyber risk when a hacker steals sensitive detailed health information for nefarious purposes such as blackmail?

Oh, and don’t even get me started on semi-autonomous driverless cars… That’s a topic for another time.

Career Possibilities Abound


I had the opportunity to meet with a couple of representatives of the InVEST organization this past week.  It was an exhilarating conversation about the tremendous potential for young people to find stable, rewarding, and lucrative careers in the risk management and insurance industry. Although I have written about this organization before, I want to take a moment to highlight a couple of excellent resources offered by InVEST.

First, the InVEST online Career Center offers many resources for students and other curious folk to check out.  Second, within the Career Center is a link to a free Caliper personality profile that will provide some very insightful guidance regarding insurance careers that may be a good fit with the student’s personality.  The Career Center web page actually has two different links for the Caliper personality profile – one for entry level (ideal for students) and one for people already in the industry.  I assume that the latter profile is for insurance people looking for a change of focus in their career, or perhaps just looking for confirmation that they’re on a career path that is consistent with their personality.  I intend to try this free tool to see if my personality still fits the underwriter persona that got me started in the industry back around the time that the last dinosaur passed away.  I’ll post my results.

Federal Terrorism Backstop Delayed?


Business Insurance reports that the bill to extend the current terrorism insurance backstop may be delayed until after the mid-term elections.  Although the current program doesn’t expire until December 31st, it just seems like there should be more legislative urgency to put this matter to rest and reassure insurance carriers and buyers alike.  After all, terrorism is very much in the news right now and we’re coming up on the September 11th anniversary.

ACORD Implementation Forum Student Opportunity


ACORD is an integral organization for the insurance industry, and they are offering a fantastic student opportunity for the upcoming Acord Implementation Forum in late October.  Students can attend the forum in Florida and learn about the inner workings of the industry and the important role of ACORD.  Of course, there will be plenty of invaluable networking opportunities as well.

To apply, click here and complete the online application by September 15, or contact Johnell Johnson at for more information. Stipends for hotel and food are available on a first come, first served basis… so don’t delay!