Category Archives: Technology

New insurance advisory board seeks technological solutions to disaster resilience

The insurance industry continues to be a major stakeholder in mitigating the effects of natural disasters on communities. As such, a group of U.S. insurers, reinsurers, intermediaries, and model providers are creating an advisory board called Helix.

Facilitated by The Institutes, Helix seeks to integrate new approaches to automated claims analysis into an overarching framework for the application of new and emerging technologies in natural disaster resilience, according to a Risk & Insurance article.

“We are excited to help coordinate this effort focused on mitigating the adverse effects of natural disasters,” says Peter Miller, President and CEO of The Institutes. He described Helix as an opportunity “to serve as a neutral third party in work on this important issue that ultimately benefits the general public.”

Initially building on work to implement open common data standards for catastrophe risk analytics, the Helix vision is grounded on four pillars to support the industry’s increasingly wide-ranging and growing capabilities:

  • Climate and resilience: Pursuing hazard and resilience research and advocating for innovation in insurance products and economic responsiveness;
  • Data standards, data content/interpretation/quality, and industry-level data resources;
  • Technology: Transparency in models and analytics, Insurtech innovations, and technology solutions;
  • Operations: Common industry tools, improved communication/exchange across the value chain, and support/education for the industry

Helix builds on the work of The Institutes’ Catastrophe Modeling Operating Standards (CMOS) initiative. The CMOS team completed a survey project in September 2020 to establish and implement an open common exposure data standard. This project also provided a set of recommendations for the community to advance the work.

“Based on the interest in and success of the CMOS, it is clear there is a desire for an industry-wide, cooperative effort focused on resilience from natural catastrophes,” says Sean Ringsted, Chief Risk Officer, Chubb. “We’ve received strong interest in creation of Helix and look forward to welcoming the participation of additional organizations.”

The Institutes is in the process of engaging founding members and building out the appropriate governance structure. As those are put in place, Helix members will determine initial priorities in support of the four pillars and leveraging the work performed under the CMOS initiative. Companies in search of additional information, or that have interest in contributing expertise to the effort can contact The Institutes at helix@theinstitutes.org.

Cross-posted from the Triple-I Resilience Accelerator

Spotlight on Kevin Henderson, Founder and CEO of Indenseo

By Marielle Rodriguez, Social Media and Brand Design Coordinator, Triple-I

Kevin Henderson

For Black History Month, Triple-I is putting the spotlight on Black entrepreneurs and innovative leaders in insurance. We sat down with Kevin Henderson, Founder and CEO of Indenseo, an analytics software company based in Palo Alto, CA to talk about his background in insurtech and how telematics is shaping the commercial auto insurance space.

Originally from West Medford, Massachusetts, Henderson moved to the Bay Area in California during the Web 1.0 internet boom in the late-1990’s, where he led the global data business for telematics company @Road [later acquired by Trimble] and partnered with commercial auto carriers on their telematics programs. Henderson’s extensive experience in insurance telematics led him to create Indenseo in 2013.

Data has an enormous potential for insurance, according to Henderson. We are now able to know in real-time what’s happening with the vehicle and how it’s being driven. Combining telematics data with contextual data like the road conditions, the limit is your imagination.

Yet, obtaining funding for Indenseo as a Black business owner provided initial hurdles for Henderson. Citing a Harvard Business article on diversity in innovation, he says there’s a positive correlation between the [racial] makeup of partners and those who get funded.” However, his difficulties with obtaining VC funding also led him to be more strategic in his fundraising approach. “It made [us] use the capital we did raise more efficiently,” he says.

While funding was an initial battle, Henderson shares the importance of having a vision and people around you that you trust.

“You need to have people around you that know the ecosystem, and people who will be honest with you. It’s a numbers game and you need to be creative. Learn how to target investors with an interest in the markets you’re trying to get into,” he says.

While telematics is synonymous with commercial fleets, use in personal lines insurance remains low. COVID-19 has revealed telematics’ potential in personal lines. “People are more open with sharing their data,” Henderson says. “The shift in driver behavior caused by the pandemic has revealed that people want to be priced based on how much they use their vehicles as opposed to a standard premium that doesn’t account for vehicle use.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has also brought its own set of challenges for Indenseo, including a slowdown in developing international business, but Henderson believes those opportunities will help expand his business in other countries. “Not everything can be done on Zoom. I will be back on airplanes when international travel and in-person meetings are practical again.”

As on the future of telematics in insurance, Henderson believes that commercial auto will evolve very differently than personal lines.

“The risks are different, and the technology is different. The risk you care about for an 18-wheel truck or a service van will be much different than the risk for a four-wheel sedan,” he says.

With the rise of new specialty markets and new companies, distribution models will change, and new products will emerge. All this makes the future of telematics and commercial auto insurance quite unpredictable and exciting.

———————————————————————————————————–

Indenseo will be hosting a free webinar with Jeffrey Williams of Forrester on February 25th, 1PM ET as part of the “Connected Insurance” series on how IoT will transform insurance. During the webinar, they will talk about trends, technologies, and use cases.

You can learn more about the webinar and register here.

To learn more about Indenseo, visit Indenseo.com. Follow Kevin on Twitter at @KevinGHenderson.  

Usage-Based Insurance Gets Confidence Boost During COVID-19 Pandemic

Drivers seem to have become more comfortable in the past year with the idea of giving up their data to help insurers more accurately price their coverage.

In May 2019, mobility data and analytics firm Arity surveyed 875 licensed drivers over the age of 18 to find out how comfortable they would be having their insurance premiums adjusted based on typical telematics variables. Between 30 and 40 percent said they would be either very or extremely comfortable sharing this data.

In May of this year, they ran the survey again with more than 1,000 licensed drivers.

“This time,” Arity says, “about 50 percent of drivers were comfortable with having their insurance priced based on the number of miles they drive, where they drive, and what time of day they drive, as well as distracted driving and speeding.”

This is a year-over-year increase of more than 12%. What happened?

The answer begins with a “C” and ends with a “19.”

Money talks…

Telematic information was part of the reason insurers could return money quickly to their customers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that fact seems to have brought positive attention to usage-based insurance (UBI). Telematics combines GPS with on-board diagnostics to record and map where a car is, its condition, and how fast it’s traveling. This technology is integral to UBI, in which insurers are able to adjust premiums based on driving behavior.

During the first wave of the pandemic, Arity data showed considerable changes in how and when people were driving when they began to self-quarantine in March 2020. Driving across the U.S. dropped significantly, and this data helped spark the trend of insurance carriers offering refunds to their policyholders.

“These paybacks were widely covered by the media, including Forbes, so consumers became aware of the potential savings, even if their own insurer didn’t offer a discount,” Arity reports.

“Private-passenger auto insurers returned around $14 billion in premiums this year to the nation’s drivers as miles driven dropped dramatically in the pandemic’s early months,” says James Lynch, Triple-I’s chief actuary. “This resulted in a five percent reduction in the cost of auto insurance for the typical driver in 2020, as compared to 2019.” 

Businesses Large and Small Need to Be Cyber Resilient in a COVID-19 World

By Loretta Worters, Vice President, Media Relations, Triple-I

Advanced Persistent Threat groups and cybercriminals are likely to continue to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic over the coming weeks and months.  Weak and stolen passwords, back doors, applications vulnerabilities, malware and insider threats have been among the most common causes of data breaches in the past.  But according to a recent Willis Towers Watson report new threats include:

  • Phishing, using the subject of coronavirus or COVID-19 as a lure;
  • Malware distribution, using coronavirus or COVID-19-themed lures;
  • Registration of new domain names containing wording related to coronavirus or COVID-19; and
  • Attacks against newly and often rapidly deployed remote access and teleworking infrastructure.

Security breaches have increased by 67% since 2014, yet businesses fail to take the proper precautions.   Ransomware has become big business for “professional” criminals, crippling large and small businesses alike.  But small businesses are especially attractive targets because they have information that cybercriminals want, and they typically lack the security infrastructure of larger businesses. 

A remote workforce due to COVID-19 has made many organizations address issues of remote access and the need for multifactor authentication and virtual private networks (VPNs). But others – less cyber savvy— have left themselves exposed to cyberattacks.

In addition, vishing (via telephone) and smishing (via text message or WhatsApp) attacks have also increased in frequency, and in a work from home environment where colleagues and clients are increasingly connecting via mobile phones, vulnerability increases, according to a new AON Report. Short message attacks will generally seek to redirect a victim to a compromised website in order to harvest user credentials.

According to a recent survey by the Small Business Administration , 88% of small business owners felt their business was vulnerable to a cyber-attack – and that was before the pandemic. Yet many businesses can’t afford professional IT solutions, have limited time to devote to cybersecurity, or don’t know where to begin.

In observance of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month,  Triple-I offers U.S. businesses these seven tips for improving their cybersecurity and averting data breaches:

  1. Understand your cyber risks. Businesses are vulnerable to cyberattacks through hacking, phishing, malware, and other methods. 
  2. Train Staff. Those engaged in cyberattacks find a point of entry into a business’ systems and network. A business’ exposure can be reduced by having and enforcing a computer password policy for its employees.
  3. Keep Software Updated. Businesses should routinely check and upgrade the major software they use.
  4. Create back-up files and store off-site. A business’ files should be backed up either as an external hard drive or on a separate cloud account. Taking these steps are vital to data recovery and the prevention of ransomware. Ransomware is when a cyberattack results in a situation where a business is asked to pay a fee to regain access to its own data.

Victimized Twice? Firms Paying Cyber Ransom Could Face U.S. Penalties

Recent advisories from two U.S. Treasury agencies –  the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) – indicating that companies paying ransom or facilitating such payments to cyber extortionists could be subject to federal penalties are a reminder of the importance of good cyber hygiene.  

The notices also underscore businesses’ need to consult with knowledgeable, reputable professionals long before a ransomware attack occurs and before making any payments. 

Ransomware on the rise 

In a ransomware attack, hackers use software to block access to the victim’s own data and demand payment (usually in Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency) to regain access. It has been a growing problem in recent years, and such attacks have intensified since the COVID-19 pandemic has led to many people working from home for the first time.  

The FBI warns against paying ransoms, but studies have shown that business leaders today pay a lot in the hope of getting their data back.  An IBM survey of 600 U.S. business leaders found that 70% had paid a ransom to regain access to their business files. Of the companies responding, nearly half have paid more than $10,000, and 20% of them paid more than $40,000. 

Sanctioned entities 

The OFAC advisory specifically targets transactions benefiting individuals or entities on OFAC’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List, other blocked persons, and those covered by comprehensive country or region embargoes (e.g., Cuba, the Crimea region of Ukraine, Iran, North Korea, and Syria). 

If you pay ransom to anyone in these categories, you could be fined or even jailed for breaching the  International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) or the Trading with the Enemy Act (TWEA). Penalties can vary widely, depending on the circumstances.  

How is a business owner to know?  

“Companies should rely on experts to assist with their due diligence and work with the FBI,” writes law firm BakerHostetler in a recent blog post. “Experience in incident response is key, and your counsel should be an informed, confident partner as you navigate this rapidly evolving area.” 

“Before a payment is made,” the law firm writes, “a company generally retains a third party to conduct due diligence to ensure that the payment isn’t being made to a sanctioned organization or a group reasonably suspected of being tied to a sanctioned organization. Additionally, checks are in place to ensure that anti-money laundering laws are not being violated.”

Many insurers are working with their clients to put such practices in place and taking a variety of other steps to address the threat of ransomware attacks. Cyber-insurance premiums started rising 5% to 25% late last year, according to Robert Parisi, U.S. cyber product leader at insurance broker Marsh & McLennan. Parisi called the increases “dramatic” but said insurers have not scaled back coverage. 

Marsh has issued a client advisory — What OFAC’s Ransomware Advisory Means for US Companies — explaining what U.S. businesses need to know about the OFAC advisory and the importance of completing an OFAC review before payment of ransom demands.  Marsh’s advisory also makes recommendations for re-assessing ransom incident response plans, mitigating ransomware risk, and preparation for and recovery from ransomware and cyber extortion attacks. 

Lightning Round Webinar Showcases Cutting Edge Disaster Mitigation Technologies

Four entrepreneurial teams who have developed products to boost societal resilience and to mitigate natural disaster risks will present them during a free Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) event on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 11 a.m., ET.

Billed as the Lightning Rounds for Resilience and Pre-Disaster Mitigated Innovations, it is the third time this year the Triple-I and its Resilience Accelerator, ResilientH20 Partners and The Cannon, have connected entrepreneurs with leading insurance innovation specialists and investors. Pre-registration is required.

The first of the day’s two panels will feature the web-based apps developed by the prize-winning teams from 2020’s collegiate Hack-for-Resilience III. The Triple-I and the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania honored these two student entrepreneurial teams in September 2020.

  • Air.ly:  The app identifies locales near wildfire zones where individuals afflicted with respiratory issues, or other health complications, can find fresh air. It won the prize this year for the Best Overall Hack-for-Resilience.
  • Insura: The app uses a home’s location and historical loss data to recommend mitigation and maintenance activities which could reduce a homeowner’s insurance premiums.  It won this year’s prize for the Best Application of Insurtech.

“We’re excited to spotlight the outstanding work of talented students who have accepted the challenge to build and empower the resilience movement. Products like Air.ly and Insura are proof today’s brightest young minds are creating the tools that will better allow people to navigate through, and prepare for, natural disasters,” said Michel Leonard, PhD, CBE, Vice President and Senior Economist, Triple-I.

Two established businesses – members of the Resilience Innovation Hub “portfolio of disaster risk-mitigation innovation” -will present their products and services during the event’s second and final panel:  

  • Thermal Gate™ 2.5:  The artificial intelligence (AI) based system screens and detects individuals who have an elevated body temperature before they enter venues which are open to the public.
  • Mesh++ : The just-in-time WiFi community network requires no external power nor wiring to generate broadband access for first-responders, citizens, and preparedness interests.

Click here to register.

Ransomware claims rise in severity since start of pandemic

During the last week in September, Universal Health Services Inc., one of the largest hospital chains in the United States, began taking some ambulances out of service because of disruptions caused by a ransomware attack. Universal said no patients were harmed, but systems that support medical records, laboratories and pharmacies were taken offline at approximately 250 facilities.

This incident is part of a disturbing trend of healthcare institutions being targeted by ransomware attacks  as the software used by hackers becomes more sophisticated and their attacks broader.

While cyber insurance claims impacted businesses of all types and sizes certain industries, including consumer businesses (retail, hospitality and food), healthcare and financial services were more frequent targets of cyberattacks in the first half of 2020, according to a recent report by Coalition, a provider of cyber insurance.

Overall, ransomware (41 percent), funds transfer loss (27 percent), and business email compromise incidents (19 percent) were the most frequent types of loss—accounting for 87 percent of reported incidents and 84 percent of claims paid in the first half of 2020.

“We’ve seen a sharp increase in ransom demands over the past quarter as threat actors have exploited COVID-19 and changes in company operating procedures. Although the frequency of ransomware claims has decreased by 18 percent from 2019 into the first half of 2020, we’ve observed a dramatic increase in the severity of these attacks,” said the Coalition report.

Since email is the single most targeted point of entry for a hacker, taking a few basic email security measures and implementing an anti-phishing solution would go a long way toward securing your business from criminals.

Coalition reports that, for each claim processed, cyber insurance played a critical role in helping the insured recover operationally. For example, a nonprofit organization providing child and family services grants to other nonprofits was duped into transferring $1.3 million to criminals. Coalition worked with law enforcement and the financial institutions involved to recover the stolen funds.

Virtual Discussion: Responding to Disaster During a Crisis

On September 24 a virtual discussion hosted by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Advisory Committee will inform community leaders about how new science and technology applications are enhancing resilience and protecting lifeline systems and networks.

During the discussion experts will describe how technologies can inform risk-based decision-making in areas of neighborhood health monitoring, supply chains, evacuation planning, crisis communications, and information sharing among frontline responders. Innovation in predictive analytics, modeling and simulation, and mobility offer new solutions to tackle immediate challenges and prepare for emerging threats.

The panel will also cover how new public-private partnerships are accelerating new solutions and business models to prepare for day-to-day emergencies.

The discussion will include Michel Léonard, PhD, CBE, Vice President & Senior Economist, Insurance Information Institute; and Richard Seline, Managing Director, ResilientH20Partners.

About the virtual discussion:

September 24, 2020. 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET

Click here to register.

Speakers:

David Maurstad, Deputy Associate Administrator, FEMA

Duane Caneva, Chief Medical Officer, DHS Countering WMD Office

Ted Smith, Ph.D., Wastewater Based Epidemiology, Professor of Environmental Medicine, University of Louisville and Advisor to Louisville Mayor, Greg Fischer

Catherine Cross, Deputy Under Secretary, DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T)

David Corman, Program Director, Cyber-Physical Systems and Smart and Connected Communities, National Science Foundation

Richard Seline, Executive Director, Accelerate H2O, Houston, Texas

Michel Léonard, Vice President and Senior Economist, Insurance Information Institute

Moderator: David Alexander, Director of Resilience Research and Partnerships, DHS S&T

The Insurance Information Institute’s Resilience Accelerator was created to build awareness and adoption of insurance as a frontline defense against the impact of extreme weather events on households, businesses and communities.

Student Hacker Teams Showcase Their Winning Skills at PennApps 3rd Annual Hack-for-Resilience Competition

From Friday, September 11 to Sunday, September 13, the third annual the Hack-for-Resilience competition (“H4R”) was hosted by Wharton Risk Center and the Insurance Information Institute’s (“Triple-I”) Resilience Accelerator as part of the PennAppsXXI hackathon. This year’s competition yielded an impressive array of powerful data, robotics and AI solutions, as well as unique perspectives on catastrophe preparedness and mitigation from the next generation of innovators and leaders.

Organized into two categories—Best Overall Hack for Resilience and Best Application of Insurtech—Hack-for-Resilience III was a virtual event conducted over 36 hours spanning 8:00 pm Friday night through 8:00 am Sunday morning. Students used Slack, Zoom and HopIn digital collaboration platforms, to recruit and select teammates, ideate, seek guidance from mentors, and produce and demonstrate hacks.

This year’s H4R attracted 38 teams from as far away as British Columbia, Brasil and India. Some interesting trends emerged: For 2020, several hacks used gamification—applying the principles and characteristics of video gaming to tasks and problem-solving—as a technique to teach and test catastrophe resilience. This year also saw numerous student innovators drawing inspiration from their own families’ recent natural disaster experiences.

A panel of judges that included Dr. Carolyn Kousky, Wharton Risk Center’s Executive Director and Dr. Michel Leonard, the Triple-I’s Vice President and Senior Economist, selected first- and second-place winning hacks in both categories. They are:

BEST APPLICATION OF INSURTECH

Winner: INSURA

Developed as a way to get households into a “resilience frame of mind,” INSURA uses location and historical loss data, to incentivize catastrophe resilience by making a game of preparedness and mitigation. Users enter information about their homes and known risks, and INSURA suggests mitigation activities and common household maintenance chores. Players are scored by calculated potential insurance premium savings.

Runner-up: CLAIM CART

Created in response to recent wildfires, CLAIM CART makes it easier for users to file claims for insured losses by guiding them step-by-step through creating an effective household inventory to receive maximum payout for their lost possessions. The app works by querying insurer and public loss and item pricing data to help people prepare for a disaster by more accurately presenting and organizing information about the contents of their home.

BEST OVERALL HACK-FOR-RESILIENCE

Winner: AIR.LY

Inspired by the development team members experiences during recent California wildfires, AIR.LY is billed as “the one-stop shop [for finding] safe outdoor retreats during wildfires.” AIR.LY helps delivers vital, in-real-time help to an often-overlooked group: persons afflicted with respiratory issues or other health complications.

Runner-up: Saving Our Souls (S.O.S.)

Designed and built by a team of high-schoolers, S.O.S. is story-mode game that allows players to choose disaster scenarios that present multiple options to instruct on fire and flood safety, as well as effective preparedness and evacuation practices.

First place-winning team members will each receive a $200 Amazon gift card for their winning hacks, while the runners-up each will receive a $100 Amazon gift card. New for 2020 is an additional reward for first place winners, entry into a Resilience Accelerator Lightning Rounds ideas showcase, where teams will demo their winning hacks to a panel of insurance innovation leaders and investors.

The Wharton Risk Center and the Triple-I wish to again extend our thanks to all who contributed to making Hack-for-Resilience III and PennAppsXXI a rousing success!

By James Ballot,  Senior Advisor, Strategic Communications, Triple-I

Disaster Resilience Is Focus of Triple-I, U. Penn Student Competition

By James Ballot, Senior Advisor, Strategic Communications, Triple-I

For the third year straight, the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) and the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center (Wharton Risk Center) at the University of Pennsylvania are co-sponsoring a student competition aimed at developing innovative solutions to real-world disaster resilience problems.

Held virtually, the third annual “Hack-for-Resilience” begins on Friday, Sept. 11 and concludes on Sunday, Sept. 13 as part of PennAppsXXI, the nation’s oldest student-run hackathon. The word “hack,” in the context of a hackathon, describes how multiple technologies can be used in new and innovative ways.

“This event allows the Triple-I and its Resilience Accelerator partners to bring together insurers and student innovators who have the same goal—to create new products and services that will reduce the risks people face from natural disasters,” said Sean Kevelighan, CEO, Triple-I. The Triple-I’s Resilience Accelerator was launched in 2019 to reduce the impact of extreme weather events on households and communities through insurance. 

The 2020 edition of this competition will give entrants from midnight on Saturday, Sept. 12 through 9 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 13 to show their skills. During this time, teams of up to four students will conceive, test, and deliver working apps while others develop hardware solutions, Internet of Things (IoT) protocols, and data tools that can save lives and reduce property damage in the wake of a natural disaster.

 “Building resilience to disasters is more important than ever,” said Dr. Carolyn Kousky, Executive Director, Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center, University of Pennsylvania.

A team of judges from Wharton Risk Center and Triple-I will award first- and second-place cash prizes in two categories: “Best Overall Hack” and “The Most Outstanding Application of Insurtech,” which is defined broadly as either a product or service that improves the insurance customer experience. The winning teams will be announced on Sunday evening, Sept. 13.

New to this year’s “Hack-for-Resilience” is that both first-place prize winners will participate in the Resilience Accelerator’s Lightning Round innovation showcase on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020.

The first-place prizes in 2019 were awarded to the creators of Phoenix, an autonomous drone with the capacity to track and extinguish fires (Best Overall Hack) and WildFire Protect, a parametric insurance product which would pay a policyholder immediately after they incurred a wildfire-related property loss (The Most Outstanding Application of Insurtech).

You can follow this year’s competition on social media via the hashtag #H4R2020