Data-Driven Insurance Future Clouded by Data Ownership Uncertainty

Insurers need to learn to share their data if they want to take full advantage of the mountain of information generated from connected devices, insurtech executives say. Along the way, somebody’s got to figure out who owns the data.

Presentations made during the Silicon Valley Insurance Accelerator’s Insurtech Fusion Summit held in South San Francisco last week showed that the industry is still grappling with that question.

Insurtechies painted a picture of a connected future where carriers communicate with consumers through platforms that the customer chooses, such as Amazon and Facebook. The data generated by consumers who trade their privacy for a discount would be shared by all so carriers can more accurately measure risk and provide better service.

Denise Garth, senior vice president of stategic marketing for Majesco, said millennials and Generation Z are willing data-sharing partners. “They are going to give us any data that we want as long as we give them something in return,” she said. “Remember, it’s all about them.”

But some of the speakers also held sharply different attitudes about, who should control the data once it’s collected.

Jason Griswold, co-founder and chief operating officer of Rein, cautioned other insurtech firms not to get hung up on who owns the data that they collect, because nobody owns it. He said Liberty Mutual Group took “a massive risk” by investing in Rein’s digital drone insurance product in part because Rein didn’t claim any rights to the data.

“We love to make sausage out of the data, but we don’t own the data,” Griswold said.

On the other hand, LifeEpigenetics Senior Advisor Michael P. Curran said his company failed to make a deal with a “top-ten carrier” and decided to take a do-it-yourself approach toward data collection instead. “The fight was who owns the data.”

Griswold refused to answer questions about his presentation at the summit. A spokeswoman said Rein, because it works with insurers, has to carefully vet any public comments. Curran’s company did not reply to an email requesting an interview…

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