Tuesday, 18 February 2014

GeoInsurance ’14 Review

Last week saw the first ever geoinsurance event. Geoinsurance is one of a series of conferences/exhibitions being run by a company called Corinium. They are taking a different approach to the AGI and running vertical specific (insurance/utilities etc) events as opposed to themed events of the Big 5. Anyway with several council members speaking at the various events it made sense for us to run a media partnership and so I went along.
I am no expert in insurance but fortunately some fellow AGI members from the newly formed Insurance and Risk SIG also came along and I’ve picked their brains for the review.

The event consisted of one stream spread over two days taking a broad view of the role geographic information and location plays in insurance. There was an interesting variety of views from very high level strategy from the likes of Esri UK and Willis Group to much more operational detail. Munich Re opened the conference with an interesting presentation on the four phases of integrating business intelligence and geographic information.
AGI Stand at the Start of the Day

Unsurprisingly mapping flood risk and exposure was a recurring theme for the conference however there was much more variety than I would have expected and some of the presentations on fire and terrorism risk were very interesting. Apparently 46% of all UK claims in Q1 of 2013 were fire related, the stand out fact of Mapflow’s presentation on fire risk and insurer over exposure.

Day one also saw a slight conflict of views with James Brayshaw of Pitney Bowes arguing that it’s not about maps it’s about data. Ordnance Survey and David Henderson contended that data by itself has no context or meaning and it is the addition of the spatial element that gives data its value. The great soundbite of ‘bad data is like a virus’ came out of the Pitney Bowes presentation and this is certainly something that is relevant whether the data is spatial or not.

Day two started with a more strategic look at the industry and the role of spatial including a presentation by the Willis Group on making spatial accessible to the whole organisation. This raised the point that however good the data and the tools are if the outputs don’t get to the right people then the value of geographic information, or any other form of business intelligence for that matter is lost.

Following on from points about the quality of data SCOR presented about the need to benchmark catastrophe models by looking at how real event performed compared to the predictions. Making assumptions based on models that haven’t been benchmarked is like using a dataset that you know nothing about on a map.

Overall Geoinsurance was a good event providing an interesting mix of strategy and tactics, high level views on the role of geographic information and specific case studies of its use. It was encouraging to see an industry embracing geographic information like this and some high level people championing its value. It seems the insurance industry already views geographic information as part of or equivalent to business intelligence.

It was also good to see the brand new AGI Insurance and Risk SIG being well received by the delegates, watch this space for some upcoming evening events.

Thursday’s blog will have long awaited details about this year’s AGI conference, GeoCom ‘The Changing Face of Geo.’

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