The functions of actuarial and underwriting within insurance companies are fundamentally changing as a result of the transformation occurring alongside the adoption of insurtech.
Insurers require big data, but while data aggregation results in the law of large numbers and predictive analysis can reduce the need for underwriting in certain generic cases, these roles are expected to remain central to the digital organization.
Underwriting of risk is what the insurance industry does and is very good at it. However, access to big data offers greater insights than ever into the specific behavior of customers and therefore their overall risk. This can give insurers the ability to better segment their customer base to provide more personalized products based on the levels of granularity available in the data.
Underwriters and actuaries will likely have a new role in which their specific data science skills can be applied. Rather than being replaced by black boxes, they will likely lead the charge in reassessing and enhancing the statistical approach to traditional underwriting, armed with a treasury of data.
Beyond this revitalization of statistical analysis, certain specialized lines and heavily manuscripted endorsements such as shipping, will likely still require the old methods to be applied as there will likely not be sufficient data to underwrite on the press of a button.
While insurtech may have the effect of reducing carriers in certain general areas of commercial insurance, there should always be a place for techies with slide rules and log books to do the really hard and bespoke risk calculations.