Do you trust your data with your insurers?

Data on a screen.

Customers are rightly calling for transparency on how their data is used. Image: Unsplash

Mario Greco
Chief Executive Officer, Zurich Insurance Group
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For centuries, insurance has been driven by data. Traditionally, customers were asked a series of questions to create policies that would make them safer and their lives easier.

Today, data is at the heart of a profound transformation in insurance. It gives customers the technology and information tools that have raised their expectations and wishes. They want simple products and services that add value to their lives, can be accessed through their mobile devices and are delivered together with additional offers from other industries.

Data allows us to meet these new expectations by powering a new generation of insurance. Examples include car insurance based on actual driving behaviours, life protection that promotes wellbeing, smart home technology that prevents water and fire damage, and travel cover that uses your movements to keep you and your family out of harm’s way.

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This is also true in many other industries – we have already seen data-fueled innovation transform the competitive landscape of sectors like big tech, mobility and telecommunications.

But customers will only grant access to data if trust can be established. They are rightly calling for transparency on how their data is used and their digital identities protected.

In practice, this means companies asking big questions of themselves – on the origin of customer data; its usage, sharing, storage and security methods. These questions need to be answered with integrity and clarity in a way that rejects complex language and token gestures. And we have to be clear on how customer data will be used for customers’ benefit – as well as protected from loss and negative uses.

Conforming to regulations will not be enough to establish trust. Companies need to commit voluntarily to high ethical standards. This means going further than what is required by frameworks such as GDPR on usage of artificial intelligence, big data and other forms of advanced analytics.

A need for collective action

All of this is why Zurich has introduced a data commitment across our entire group. This is a promise that honours our customers’ trust in the safety of sharing their data with us.​ We will never sell customers’ personal data, or share it without being transparent. We commit to high data protection standards across the group, often going beyond what local laws and regulations require. And we commit to putting data to work, constantly using it to fuel new ways to improve our customers’ lives.

Image: Statista

We need collective action if we are to fully deliver on this pledge. Protecting customer data through cyber security is an example. Zurich has established the Cyber Fusion Center to protect our customers’ data by combining cyber-threat intelligence, response, forensics and vulnerability management teams. But cyber threats are ever evolving, and can be highly systemic and so cannot be solved by one actor in isolation. Organizations such as the World Economic Forum play an important role in bringing stakeholders together. An example is its Centre for Cybersecurity which convenes experts to address systemic cyber risks and creates tools to better understand it.

Data is creating a new horizon of opportunities – for Zurich, for insurance and for us all. We must respect and protect our customers to realize its full potential. The leadership we show now by taking action will have a lasting and wide-ranging impact in the decades to come.

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