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11:51 AM
Nathan Golia
Nathan Golia
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My Top 4 Topics for 2012

Every once in a while, we journalists are lucky enough to cultivate passion for a subject that our audience wants to read about. Following are some items I heard discussed throughout the industry in 2011 that I'm excited to revisit in 2012.

Like many of you, I'll be taking some time off around the holidays to spend with my family. It's my son's first Christmas — not that he's going to remember much of it, but we certainly will!

When we return to work full-bore, though, there are some things I'll be looking to write about almost instantly. I'm looking forward to digging into these issues with recharged batteries. So, as my final goodbye to 2011, here are the four insurance technology trends I'll be examining closely in 2012.

1) Telematics This was a big year for telematics — or, as we should probably refer to it, "usage-based auto insurance." Progressive went national (at least marketing-wise) with its Snapshot program, Allstate launched a program around this time in 2010, and State Farm and The Hartford kicked off their programs this year. Consumers are purportedly becoming more comfortable with the idea of insurers using telematics devices to create a more accurate risk profile for them — as long as it's only used to reduce rates, not increase them. This is especially true in Europe, where pay-as-you-drive is seen as a way to replace gender in pricing risk.

What I'll be looking for next year: Will consumers' own mobile devices play a bigger role? Can privacy issues remain on the sidelines? How big of a market will this be?

2) Social media for underwriting and claims Another way insurers are looking to refine how they price consumers in the digital age is by exploring social media: a wealth of publicly available data that provides a window into the insured's life. So far, this is only being done in a limited way, but even then, accusations of "spying" have been leveled at those that would do so.

The questions I'm hoping to answer in 2012 are: If this is effective, will it gain momentum? Could we see legislation targeting the practice? What will this do to consumers' social media habits: will they clam up?

3) Enterprise data security My eyes opened wide at an Ernst & Young presentation, where the company's Chip Tsantes and Jose Granado discussed how device proliferation is making it easier for cyber criminals to target corporate networks based on individuals' poor habits. My conclusion? We just don't care that much about data security. But perhaps that was presumptuous as John Hancock CIO Allan Hackney told me about his company's efforts to instill solid security policies in light of Massachusetts' strict laws around data privacy.

What I'll be exploring next year: Will we see more breaches as even more mobile devices — especially tablets — take hold in the enterprise? Will CIOs and CISOs depend on training employees to develop good habits, or will they be forced to block access?

4) Agent portals vs. agency management systems This one snuck up on us at the end of the year, as late-breaking research from Novarica that showed agents preferred to write business through portals was met with disbelief from agent groups and AMS providers. I've been doing some digging this week, and you'll see a full article on the subject in our next digital issue, which should drop in mid-January.

Some questions we're hoping to shed light on in that piece and further coverage: What are some of the nuanced points that muddy this issue? What works best for insurers? How diverse are agents' opinions on this?

Of course, I'm looking forward to covering more than just these hot-button issues. If there's anything you think we should cover, let us know! Until then, have a happy holiday weekend and new year.

Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio

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