Tag Archives: insurance

Obstacle course racing presents insurers with unique hurdles

Obstacle course racing (OCR) like those featured on American Ninja Warrior have grown in popularity. As the extreme factor of OCR increases so does the risk for event organizers. These competitions do not have the reliable historical data, consistency of events, and general safety measures seen in traditional footraces, making it difficult for insurers to price OCR’s exposures.

A new article by Michael Henk entitled “Obstacles for insurers of obstacle course racing” explores OCR’s unique risks. It also provides perspective for insurers to consider when pricing premiums in this emerging market.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Imagine that there is a local half marathon looking for liability insurance to cover its event. An insurance company can use data from past races (either in the same location or spread across a broad geography) to predict expected losses. Because half marathons have been around and been insured for decades, there is enough data for a credible analysis. Because OCR was almost nonexistent until 2010, insurance companies do not have that same degree of industry data. As with any emerging market (such as cyber liability, drone insurance, and self-driving cars), insurers do not know what to expect, and therefore, insurance premiums are priced higher to make up for the unknowns.

Another obstacle in the way of establishing a credible database is that all obstacle course races are not the same. When you decide to run a marathon, you know what to expect: run 26.2 miles. Road races might vary by elements such as terrain, local weather, and elevation changes, but overall, similar risks can be expected across all events. If you run a marathon in Chicago, it is similar to running a marathon in Miami. Likewise, insurers also know what to expect with these traditional races. They can use past data and rely on well-established safety standards to determine the proper level of risk and premiums.

Obstacle courses do not have the same consistency. Running a Tough Mudder race in Minnesota is entirely different from a Spartan race in Florida. The lack of standardization makes it difficult to price insurance policies. For example, if one race has a wall that is 20 feet high and another event has one that is five feet high, they pay the same premium even though the risk of injury from falling is greater with the 20-foot wall. These higher premiums can potentially cause race organizers to pay more for insurance than necessary. The risks associated with one obstacle course can be completely different from the risks of another, but insurance companies will still price them relatively the same as there is not enough historical data to allow for differentiation in the policies.

If the industry developed a consistent and credible database of obstacles, insurers would be able to accurately price each race based on the risk of individual obstacles. In fact, with a database like that, races could even be tailored to fit a specific target “riskiness,” selecting obstacles that result in an organizer-preferred premium amount. The current way of one-size-fits-all is not an efficient use of funds for race organizers.

The article was co-authored by Jenna Hildebrandt, an actuarial science student at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Paid family leave proposal leaves states with funding issues to consider

President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget proposal includes a paid family leave insurance program for workers in the United States. Under the president’s proposal, states would be allowed to design the paid leave program for their own jurisdictions as long as the benefits meet minimum standards. This means that some states may have a lot to consider when preparing for a new insurance program, such as funding methods, administration, and specific benefit design features. The article “Paid family leave in the United States” by Paul Correia offers some perspective.

Milliman chairman to moderate panel discussion on investment strategies

Milliman Chairman Ken Mungan is moderating the discussion “Chief Investment Officer Panel – Searching for Yield” at the ReFocus Conference 2017 on Monday, March 6. Panel participants will address the challenges of investing in a low interest rate environment and offer their perspective on strategies that can be employed.

ReFocus 2017 is a global conference for senior-level life insurance and reinsurance executives. It is sponsored by the American Council of Life Insurers and the Society of Actuaries. Milliman is also a sponsor of this year’s conference. ReFocus 2017 is scheduled from March 5-8 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. To view the entire conference agenda, click here.

Innovation and technology creates a new market for players and new challenges for insurers

Innovation is changing the insurance industry landscape. To remain viable, traditional insurance companies must transform their business models to meet new data and consumer expectations. The Milliman Impact article “Disruption or innovation: A digital future for insurers” explores some technological advances that are opening up the market to new players and challenging insurers to augment their approaches.

Can blockchain enhanced security for insurers?

Blockchain technology may offer insurance companies the security that they have only dreamed about. The technology’s security components enable users to quickly identify whether a stream of data can be “trusted” for accuracy or not. In their article “Blockchain: An insurance focus,” Milliman’s Michael Henk and Robert Bell explain the basics of the technology. They also explore the benefits and limitations that blockchain could have on insurers.

Here’s an excerpt:

Blockchain technology also has the potential to limit fraudulent claims. False billings and tampered documents are less likely to “fall through the cracks” if the data is decentralized and immutable, which will reduce the amount of erroneous claims payments. Utilizing this technology will enable insurers to lower their loss adjustment expenses and pass on that savings to consumers in the form of lower rates. Furthermore, if this technology becomes widely used, it can help mitigate identity theft and other cyber liability losses.

Identity theft is the fraudulent acquisition and use of a person’s private identifying information. Usually this is done in order for the perpetrator to realize a financial gain. Because the data is encrypted at the financial transaction level, the technology minimizes the amount of identifying information available in the blockchain, thus minimizing the risk of identity theft.

The encryption protocol utilized by the blockchain technology has the capability to limit cyber liability as well. Cyber liability is the risk that personally identifiable information will be compromised by a third party storing an individual’s data. Current practice is to store this data in a central location with software to protect against hacking. With this technology, it enables data to be run and stored based on the current blockchain without unencrypting the underlying data because the chain itself can be independently verified through separate nodes….

…As with any emerging technology, these potential benefits do not come about without a few potential limitations, in addition to the security concerns discussed above. The most problematic of the limitations is scalability. In order for the insurance industry to utilize blockchain technology, it would take a remarkable amount of infrastructure.9 Currently, blockchain technology is limited by the amount of computing power available. In order for data to be decentralized, each node must be able to process the requisite data for each transaction for a growing number of participants. While smaller blockchains are currently successful with a limited number of participants, the insurance industry has a much larger population of participants that will need to have their data validated in a timely manner. This will mean not only more storage space, but also enough computing power to quickly be able to validate each new transaction or data point.