Companies in many industries are extolling the benefits of data analytics to generate new business opportunities and better serve customers. For insurers, there's an additional benefit: early detection of fraudulent activity. Insurers are leveraging a growing number of data sources - including social media - and applying high-performance analytics to help detect patterns of fraud as early as possible.

Insurance fraud affects not only every insurance company, "but virtually every consumer and taxpayer worldwide, and it shows no sign of easing," according to a 2013 report by research and advisory firm Aite Group. The firm estimates that claims fraud in the U.S. property/casualty industry alone cost carriers $64 billion in 2012 and will reach $80 billion by 2015.

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