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Conversations on Data Quality in Underwriting – Part 1

Data QualityI was just looking at some data I found.  Yes, real data, not fake demo stuff.  Real hurricane location analysis with modeled loss numbers.  At first glance, I thought it looked good.  There are addresses, latitudes/longitudes, values, loss numbers and other goodies like year built and construction codes.  Yes, just the sort of data that an underwriter would look at when writing a risk.  But after skimming through the schedule of locations a few things start jumping out at me.  So I dig deeper.  I see a multi-million dollar structure in Palm Beach, Florida with $0 in modeled loss.  That’s strange.  And wait, some of these geocode resolutions look a little coarse.  Are they tier one or tier two counties?  Who would know?  At least all of the construction and occupancy codes have values, albeit they look like defaults.  Perhaps it’s time to talk about data quality.

This whole concept of data quality is a tricky one.  As cost in acquiring good data is weighed against speed of underwriting/quoting and model correctness I’m sure some tradeoffs are made.  But the impact can be huge.  First, incomplete data will either force defaults in risk models and pricing or add mathematical uncertainty.  Second, massively incomplete data chews up personnel resources to cleanse and enhance.  And third, if not corrected, the risk profile will be wrong with potential impact to pricing and portfolio shape.  And that’s just to name a few.

I’ll admit it’s daunting to think about.  Imagine tens of thousands of submissions a month.  Schedules of thousands of locations received every day.  Can there even be a way out of this cave?  The answer is yes, and that answer is a robust enterprise data quality infrastructure.  But wait, you say, enterprise data quality is an IT problem.  Yeah, I guess, just like trying to flush an entire roll of toilet paper in one go is the plumber’s problem.  Data quality in underwriting is a business problem, a business opportunity and has real business impacts.

Join me in Part 2 as I outline the six steps for data quality competency in underwriting with tangible business benefits and enterprise impact.  And now that I have you on the edge of your seats, get smart about the basics of enterprise data quality.