A revolutionary vision of insurers understanding and pricing risk by acting on high-precision geographic information (GI) at their fingertips was a key focus of an exclusive industry seminar at the Lloyd's Building in London.
Underwriters from some of Britain's leading insurance companies attended the
Ordnance Survey event to see how geographic intelligence can pinpoint areas
of exposure to risk to enable more competitive pricing and manage
Layering information such as claims histories, policy details and
accumulations on precise geographic coordinates can improve the
understanding of trends, hot spots and scenarios to inform underwriting,
"Everything happens somewhere," Ordnance Survey's Gavin Lewis told the
audience. "A clear geographic context, rather than simply a text-based
description, can help you identify and visualise what you are insuring,
where it is and what is around it. If you don't have that information, it is
more difficult to price risk accurately and be sure that accumulation
management and reinsurance capacity is correct."
As well as underwriting risk, the event considered the capacity of GI to
separate genuine from fraudulent claims and develop counter-fraud measures.
"By analysing where multiple claims come from using geography, you have a
powerful intelligence-led application which can help in fraud detection," Mr
The event, supported by technology partners QAS, GroundSure and Mapflow,
followed the launch of enhancements to Ordnance Survey's most detailed
digital address data, OS MasterMap Address Layer 2.
As well as defining and locating more than 27 million postal addresses, the
enhanced information includes around a million so-called OWPA (objects
without a postal address) such as depots, masts, community halls and
warehouses. Although they do not have postal delivery points, these
properties are all potential risk locations. The data also includes details
of around half a million multiple residences and flats with no individual
postal delivery points.
By improving the identification of individual properties, whether on an
individual or collective basis, there is greater potential for insurers to
boost analysis and decision making. In handling flood risk, for example, the
enhanced data can help avoid the kind of simplified assumptions that lead to
higher ground properties within a flood risk postcode or property cluster
experiencing expensive insurance premiums or difficulty getting cover.
Ordnance Survey has also begun supplying packages of aerial images with
special viewing software designed to show the height, shape and design of
buildings from oblique angles, including the four points of the compass.
Access to multiple perspectives is particularly useful for insurers in need
of a detailed view of the elevation and surroundings of buildings. The
images are being captured at 15-cm resolution under a rolling programme
focusing on towns and cities across Great Britain. Eighty per cent of major
conurbations, including London, are scheduled to be available by the end of
"Many kinds of geographic data can be overlaid with other datasets to
profile risk portfolios by region, locality or peril," said Mr Lewis. "This
can be on an individual basis or through combinations of different or
accumulated factors. It enables a better understanding of risk accumulation,
aggregation and management, offering greater confidence in the underwriting