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In An Age of Uncertainty, the Insurance Industry Turns to Geocoding

by James Brayshaw | July 31, 2014 | No Comments

Insurance and geocodingBack in October, the UK was hit with the biggest storm of the past twenty-five years. While we have had severe storms before, the flooding caused by the St. Jude storm on 28 October was unprecedented. The weather didn’t let up for months. In December, we saw two tidal surges on the East coast and the South West of England. In January, much of England was hit with more rain than ever recorded and, in February, the Thames flooded, with the river reaching its highest level in sixty years.

The series of winter storms made it clear that climate is going to be more of a factor in business planning in the coming years. This is especially true for companies in the insurance industry, where accurate forecasting is all part of the job. Traditionally, many firms have assessed risk by post code to determine the chance of natural disasters or socioeconomic events. But that’s no longer precise enough when a property on a coast may be in the same code as a property further inland, or one structure may have been recently renovated and another may have been sitting idle for the past decade.

To fix this problem, firms like reinsurance broker Willis Group are turning to Pitney Bowes’ Spectrum platform to help with geocoding solutions that enhance the accuracy of risk forecasting and guarantee high-quality data that can be used in assessing risk. The higher quality the data, the more accurate the forecast (no pun intended).

“Pitney Bowes is becoming our ‘single source of truth’ to locate and cleanse asset data,” said Nigel Davis, Managing Director, Head of Platforms and Delivery, Global Analytics at Willis. “Having now deployed it globally for our reinsurance business and seen great improvements in processing speed and data accuracy, we are looking at ways to extend its use across other business units – and perhaps to assist activities such as customer relationship management (CRM) or business continuity.”

Geocoding for the Next Generation

With Pitney Bowes’ Spectrum Enterprise Geocoding Module and Spectrum Location Intelligence Module, Willis is creating comprehensive and precise risk profiles for properties around the world. A lot of this is made possible by using these tools to streamline the geocoding process and cleansing millions of address records, ensuring that the data is as accurate as possible.

In an age of uncertain climate, a static post code isn’t enough. Data has to be integrated with third-party sources and continually updated in real-time for individual properties. This way, insurance providers can adjust plans and policies not only according to the latest weather forecasts, but according to data that ranges far beyond housing and weather, from demographics to local economic activity and geopolitical trends.

With next-generation geocoding tools, firms can now build proactive policies rather than reactive ones. The right information can reveal whether the value of property in a neighbourhood will skyrocket in the next ten years, whether a new factory is at risk in a volatile location or whether a city’s latest infrastructure investments will drastically affect properties. Additionally, firms can create a centralised, 360 degree view of a customer that allows for highly accurate fraud detection, as well.

Willis is now looking at ways to use the data for internal operations. If the storms of this past winter have taught us anything, it’s that location data is going to become increasingly important to every aspect of business. The firm is working to include geocoding in customer relationship management efforts, as well as business planning. We are just beginning to discover the power of dynamic, real-time location data and companies like Willis are leading the way.

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