The new face of insurance: combining data and insurance

The new face of insurance: combining data and insurance | Insurance Business New Zealand

The new face of insurance: combining data and insurance

Blair Robertson (pictured) began his insurance career on the statistical modelling side of the industry, having worked with major insurance players including NZI and IAG.

Now, Robertson is a young up and comer at Ando Insurance. He boasts a mixed-skillset of analytics and underwriting that he combines in his role as assistant portfolio manager – commercial motor.

Insurance Business caught up with Robertson to learn more about his insurance journey. In this Q&A, he offers insights on the New Zealand commercial motor insurance market and the hot-topic that is risk-based pricing.

Insurance Business: Who or what has inspired you to be involved in the insurance industry?
Blair Robertson: I was considering a role as an actuary at IAG and was offered a role as a commercial pricing analyst. This was a good fit for me as I had graduated from the University of Auckland with a BCom and BSc with honors in Statistics. The combination of the business and statistical degrees gave me an insight into what our customers required from their insurer and what the insurer could provide within acceptable risk parameters.

IB: You previously worked with NZI and IAG. What have you learned from these experiences and how do these lessons help you now?
BR: It was a very different challenge working in a large organisation such as IAG. I was fortunate to work in a team of amazingly gifted individuals, from whom I was able to gain a broad range of knowledge. I was exposed to many aspects of the insurance industry that most people don’t experience until they’re well into their careers. I’ve been able to balance this knowledge with the day-to-day challenges of underwriting, to bring a unique view on how I assess insurance risk.

IB: Tell us briefly about your role at Ando and in the industry as a whole.
BR: My role at Ando is to ensure that the commercial motor portfolio grows and is profitable, as well as making improvements to our offerings to make sure we have a balanced risk position in the marketplace.

IB: You are combining underwriting and data expertise. What value does this add to your portfolio role?
BR: Portfolio management requires a balance of underwriting, relationship management and portfolio performance. My experience on the statistical modelling side of insurance gives me an insight into the way pricing impacts portfolio performance. This means I’m more comfortable knowing the impact decisions will have on the performance when making strategic decisions.

IB: Are New Zealanders underinsured? If yes, how is this being addressed?
BR: I primarily look at commercial motor, and this, along with personal motor, is one of the most understood insurance exposures because of the rate of claims. So, I would say that underinsurance is not such an issue in the motor vehicle insurance market. As the losses get less frequent, I would say New Zealanders could become underinsured. I would also say that there are clause benefits that are undervalued in a policy until a claim happens, such as loss of use.

IB: What other key areas of development do you see for the insurance industry in the years ahead?
BR: Traditionally the insurance industry is thought of as being a relationship-based market. However, there is a big push right now to have a better handle on how we price risk, so in future I see more people with backgrounds like my own, playing a role in the insurance industry. I’m interested to see how different companies balance these two points.

IB: Do you have any tips for those wanting to enter the insurance industry?
BR: Insurance is an important industry for our economy. It offers interesting and rewarding career paths. I believe anyone entering the industry should try to get exposure to various aspects of the industry. Don’t be afraid to explore options that aren’t part of your current role, while considering what piques your interest. There are diverse roles requiring differing skills, so there should be something that suits you.

IB: What is one thing that most people wouldn’t know about you?
BR: I represented New Zealand in age group chess and was selected to travel to Greece to play chess at an international tournament.

IB: Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t in insurance, I would be…
BR: …in basketball analytics. I love basketball, so using my skills in a sport I love would be amazing!