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Insurance sector betting big on GIS

Rotterdam: The insurance sector is leveraging the benefits of geospatial technology across their areas of functioning, starting from risk analysis, risk underwriting to sales & marketing and beyond.

At the second day of the pre-conference exchange programme of the Geospatial World Forum, top executives of leading insurers across the world shared how GIS has become inherent part of their workflow and benefitting their businesses.

Use of GIS has led to American Modern Insurance, a specialty insurance company in the US, log a steady 6% growth in uncertain times like these when every financial organisation is under great strain, said Manny Rios, President and CEO. American Modern, a primary insurer which is into property and niche market like collector cars, uses GIS across its workflow such as product management, rating and actuarial, portfolio management, claimed marketing and sales, IT data management and compliance.

“In banking and finances, you have to be right all the time. GIS helps us do this. Finding as many data layers as possible and connecting them is a great help in underwriting property risk,” said Rios, who is also of the view that given the financial slowdown even if he is able to add staff, the GIS system allows him to grow his business as it does the additional job in lesser time. According to Rios, there is a need to go beyond looking at GIS as just a mapping tool for underwriters. Also, he feels there should be a focus by key stakeholders in the geospatial industry should focus on the insurance sector.

Sharon Palmer, Divisional Director, Global Analytics, the Willis Group, a leading insurance broker from the UK, explained how the company is using GIS in catastrophe modelling etc. Willis Research Network is the world’s largest collaboration between the public, science and financial sector and it has dedicated hubs to take care of various areas. Even though the geospatial hub features the last on Willis’s list, Palmar points out that it permeates each of the hubs such as climate risk, earthquake risk etc. Geospatial analytics are key to Willis’s identifying and quantifying risks.

Geointelligence plays an important role in Munich Reinsurance too. According to Andreas Siebert, Head, Geospatial Solutions, Corporate Underwriting Accumulation Risks, Munich Reinsurance has 4,000 clients all over the world and it has to gain knowledge on a global scale. Naturally, geospatial information is essential part of working of such a big global reinsurance company. At the moment the company is using GIS only for risk management. Next in line is GIS for sales and marketing. “It is not easy to mix geo information with underwriting and we have very highly skilled mathematicians to do that job,” said Siebert. However, once it is goes into the system, we have found it to be a very useful thing.

However, Siebert warned that one has to keep in mind that integration of geo information into the system and then earning returns is a long term process and it take years to realise the benefits.
The insurance sector sees GIS still as a niche technology for its business model but sees tremendous scope for it going into the near future.

Source: Our Correspondent