For most P&C insurers, a lack of underwriting profitability has been a long-standing problem. According to Insurance Services Office Ltd., insurers have posted net gains on underwriting for just 21 of the 113 quarters since the company began collecting quarterly data. And external factors, including persistently low interest rates, the glacial economic recovery and increasingly intense competition, over which insurers have little control, are exacerbating the profitability challenge. As a result, underwriting, due to its historically manual nature and its potential to increase profitability and reduce complexity, has for many insurers become a target for innovation.

According to “Data and Analytics in Insurance,” a report from insurance technology consultancy Strategy Meets Action (SMA), underwriting is a top-four opportunity for personal and commercial line carriers to apply data and analytics to improve profits.

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