Posts Tagged insurance

Social Networking’s Role In Measuring Terrorism Risk


The criticism of calculating terrorism risk was the perception that analysts could not predict human behavior. As it turns out, no one needed to. Social-networking analysis has been “very effective” since 9/11, [Gordon] Woo says, in foiling numerous terrorism attacks. In addition to its first priority of keeping America safe, the tactic has “protected insurers from paying large losses,” he adds.

It’s incredibly interesting that even bin Laden—a man who took great pains to avoid personal contact with social media and electronic networks in general—still wasn’t able to escape their reach.

If bin Laden can’t escape, who can?


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FarmVille insurance

Not that long ago, I asked the question: What role will actuaries and risk analysts play in virtual economies?

I may get an answer much sooner than I expected. Insurance Journal reports that Farmers Insurance is now offering coverage in FarmVille, a “virtual world” game within Facebook:

When players place the Farmers Airship on their farm, they receive free “wither protection” for the crops on their virtual farm. In a nod to the security that Farmers Insurance offer its customers, this protection means players crops won’t wither for the 10 days of the promotion.

But if you’re an actuary that wants to start pricing virtual goods and services, I wouldn’t get too excited just yet. This first take appears to be mostly a marketing campaign – an effort to draw attention to the Farmers Facebook page.

But still, it’s a start.

Hat tip to Claude Penland for sharing a link to this story.

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Risk 2.0 – The week in links 9/17/2010

  • If you view all social media users as the same, you may want to rethink that. Terri Goveia discusses the concept of “connectors.” These are highly influential individuals whose actions shape the decisions of nearly three quarters of the consumer population. Finding them in social networks is probably a good idea.
  • It can be hard to sell anything new to the C-suite. Social media author and expert Erik Qualman lists 3 reasons CEOs hate social media, but he also provides 3 reasons they can learn to love it.
  • John Hagel III and John Seely Brown outline six fundamental shifts in the way we work. I think social media and collaborative technologies will provide the foundation for significant changes in the workplace in the coming decades.

The collaboration curve helps explain the rise of network-centric efforts ranging from open source software development to “crowdsourcing” to “creation spaces.” In nearly all of these group efforts, rapid leaps in performance improvement arise as participants get better faster by working with others.

A new study from Pew Internet found that between April 2009 and May 2010, social networking site usage grew 88% among Internet users aged 55-64, and the 65 and older group’s social networking presence grew 100% in the same time frame.

  • Ted Schadler wrote a very interesting piece on IT in the age of the empowered employee. I think IT is now faced with an immense challenge in the typical enterprise. They have to take on the role of security guard, mechanic, and increasingly they have to identify when it’s in the company’s best interests to stay hands off.  In my view, the world of IT is becoming more complex because technology is no longer just another “department” or “tool” in the business. It’s everything, and it’s everywhere. It’s work; it’s play; it’s communication. All these things are blurring into one thing: life.

It’s enough to imagine the sort of future where a pharmaceutical company’s algorithms can read through your Outlook calendar, notice no one accepts your meetings, sees your Facebook status updates seem to indicate a level of frustration, and sends you an offer for a free sample of the latest anti-depressant.

  • It’s official. Announcing that you’re not home on Facebook will get you robbed – at least in the state of New Hampshire.
  • Still think Twitter is a fad? Check out the latest growth chart. 90 million tweets per day. It’s getting loud out there. Are you listening?

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What role will actuaries and risk analysts play in virtual economies?

In August, Google acquired a social currency company called Jambool.

“Social currency,” you ask? Here’s a little bit from the press release:

Social Gold has grown by leaps and bounds since it went live in 2008. In the first half of 2010, we’ve processed more than double the entire payment volume we processed in all of 2009. And we’ve welcomed hundreds of developers to our platform. The fact that our highest revenue day was in the last week attests to the continued growth of online gaming.

Our vision is to build world-class products that help developers manage and monetize their virtual economies across the globe. When the opportunity arose to join forces with Google to execute against this vision, we couldn’t pass it up. We are thrilled to bring the Social Gold platform to Google’s global users. And we invite you – our customers, partners, and friends – to continue on the journey with us.

The fact that Google acquired Jambool could be a telling indicator. It likely means that Google—one of the biggest tech powerhouses on the planet and arguably the controler of the largest information hub in the world—believes that social currencies have promise.

As online gaming, virtual worlds, and other virtual experiences become increasingly popular, it makes sense that companies like Jambool would step in to help create mediums of exchange in these new worlds.

It’s impossible to say where all this is headed, but just imagine for a moment that large-scale virtual economies emerge, and virtual goods and services are traded in high-volume, complex markets.

Who will analyze the risks in these new economies?

The skill set of actuaries and other risk professionals should extend well in these new virtual spaces.

Some would argue that our own, “real” currency is already virtual.  And in many ways it is. So don’t be too quick to write off these “realities.” Instead, think about how you can play a role.

Please share your thoughts on virtual economies in the comments.

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Risk + 2.0: The week in links 7/23/2010

Semantic clustering can help us better understand the extensive idea flow created by the web, help strategists understand how people are responding to changes, and take action based on it. People are constantly volunteering options, attitudes and ideas. Every day, in the English language, around a half million attitudes and opinions are offered up, voluntarily, in blogs and comment forums. Add in other social media (Twitter reports an average of 50 million posts a day) and that’s a huge reservoir for analyzing changing attitudes.

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Risk + 2.0 – The week in links July 9, 2010

1. How the Gulf Coast Benefit is Using Social Media to Rally Support

Sloane Berrent, co-producer of the Gulf Coast Benefit said, “I have always believed that our online interactions are meant to facilitate our offline experiences and the Gulf Coast Benefit is a perfect example of that. You can find an event or make a donation online and we are using social media tools to bring people together … It’s a way of extending the conversation that wasn’t available even three years ago and it’s a game changer.”

This is just another example of how social media can be used to connect people times of crisis. Insurers are usually key players in crises, and we’re already seeing examples of insurers using social media to facilitate claims processes during times of widespread distress, like the recent Nashville flooding.

2. Friends in Need

More information and examples of how insurers are using social media to respond to catastrophic events.

“A trend we’re seeing is that insurers are taking a proactive approach to disaster response,” says Passmore. “Companies can see where their policyholders who may have been affected by natural disasters are located and contact them immediately after the disaster occurs to determine the need for assistance.”

3. Cyber liability insurance: Don’t run a business without it

This article makes a good case for the need for cyber liability insurance. The author details a number of risk scenarios where companies would not be covered by traditional insurance.

4. 6 Ways to Manage International Relationships Online

Many insurers are multinational companies. But anyone who uses the web for communication should have a basic awareness of how the things they say may be perceived by people in other cultures. This Mashable article provides some very practical advice and tools.

5. Insurers tap new tools to reach the high-tech generation

A brief discussion on the use of social media by insurance agents in British Columbia.

6. 10,000 Actuarial Students!

The actuarial profession has traditionally been a fairly small population, but our numbers may soon grow faster. This article notes that 10,000 people in India are currently taking actuarial exams. We should expect an increase in the number and quality of professionals originating from nations like India in the next decade.

Web 2.0 tools will bring them online faster than ever before. It would be a mistake to assume that an actuary (or any other professional) groomed in India will only work in India. Whether you’re an aspiring or established actuary, there is reason not to be complacent. Focus on how you can differentiate yourself down the road, and focus on how you can use the web to extend the scope of your services beyond the traditional sphere.

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LexisNexus is taking nominations for its Top 50 Blogs of 2009

If you read insurance law blogs, I would encourage you to head over to LexisNexis and cast your vote for any blogs that you would like to see included in their Top 50 Insurance Blogs for 2009. Even if you aren’t a member of the LexisNexus community, you can register free and make your comment. Full instructions are provided at the site. . .

Go there >>

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