RiskMD; Risk Management for Today and Beyond

Risk management is foundational to the insurance industry at large.  Not only as a means to ensure the pricing integrity of insurance products, but most importantly, to continue to achieve and maintain safer, healthier environments for all.   Innovation in this space should be recognized, encouraged and celebrated.  To that end, we celebrate RiskMD!

RiskMD holds one of (if not the) only patents specific to PEO.  This patented business intelligence platform organizes insurance-related data in a proprietary way to empower risk managers and insurance executives to completely change the way they approach decision making.

Risk managers and insurance executives spend countless hours poring over numbers in search of opportunities to mitigate losses and increase profitability. This requires many hours of tedious work, compiling and deciphering mountains data using multiple complex tools, and the experience and instincts to find actionable insights.

RiskMD completely reshapes this process. The technology seamlessly automates data aggregation and integration to provide clear and meaningful insights with detailed and impactful visualizations. It gives users the ability to schedule recurring reports for quick and easy insights on demand, while also allowing for more advanced users to dig deep into the numbers and find the most granular of opportunities.

What makes RiskMD unique? Where did the concept come from?

Risk MD is an insurance data analytics tool that was built with the goal of changing the way the industry uses data to understand loss ratios and maximize profitability for any given insurance transaction. It’s a system and method for the valuation, acquisition, and management of insurance data. The concept was developed by Paul Hughes, the Founder and CEO of RiskMD, with the idea of bringing the mentality of stock trading analytics to the insurance world.

This system follows a patented process that uses a common identifier, the Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) to efficiently and effectively aggregate data in a new and powerful way. The process makes it possible to funnel data into the system without the need for labor-intensive manual input.

The use of FEIN also enables a more precise normalization of the data so that it can be more easily manipulated. This allows users to easily drill down to a deeper level for more impactful insights.

Another unique feature of the tool is that it’s designed to produce insights, rather than requiring users to find the insights themselves. Without RiskMD, risk managers and insurance executives have to dedicate countless hours to building and manipulating spreadsheets and pivot tables, then try to search the resulting data points to verify whatever insights are available to be found. RiskMD compiles the data much more efficiently and can be pre-programmed to surface the most important insights automatically, presenting them visually through the use of graphs, tables, and charts.

Whether risk managers and insurance executives are using it to manipulate data in real-time on their own or relying on custom reports that are delivered automatically, those using RiskMD have a competitive advantage over those who don’t.

How is RiskMD relevant to core concerns of risk managers?

One of the most critically important concerns for insurance executives is to maintain profitability across a book of business. They manage the total cost of risk, which can come from claims paid, or dollar values that are paid internally within a deductible limit, and additional costs that aren’t easily quantified, like the value of opportunity costs missed. Their ability to do this depends heavily on using data to gain an understanding of which accounts might create profitability issues. Without knowing which accounts are presenting exposure points and fueling losses, a risk manager cannot effectively manage them. This leads to reactionary behaviors rather than proactive ones.  Minor “hot spots” can become major loss leaders.

It gives the ability to quickly and easily see loss ratios for each account or exposure in their book of business, in real-time, through visualizations. If profitability is the macro problem, RiskMD is a tool that helps take a granular look to find the micro issues that cause that macro problem.  This prevention-based approach maximizes profitability.

How is RiskMD effective in solving one or more problems in the risk management process?

Managing risk effectively and profitably relies on finding and addressing loss leaders proactively. To do this, risk managers face the problem of compiling and deciphering large quantities of data. This process is labor-intensive, time-consuming, and typically requires a deep knowledge of multiple data manipulation tools.  Even with all the tools and manpower, the problem is often compounded when insights are unfound, like a needle in a haystack.

At its core, RiskMD is a risk assessment and analysis tool. It simplifies the data evaluation process and allows C-Level Executives and Risk Managers to discover key insights that help them make better business decisions. Using visualizations for risk identification makes insights easier to find and understand at all levels. Delivering performance metrics in real time through visualizations ensures that the internal and external stakeholders of an insurance transaction can always “keep score.”

How is RiskMD presented to risk managers to ensure ease of understanding and use.

RiskMD is an incredibly robust data analysis tool. The sheer volume of information and insights that it provides can be overwhelming. With that in mind the platform was specifically designed to make those insights as easy to access as possible using Tableau Software, which is the industry standard for user-friendly data visualization.

Using the automatic data-input process and the interpretations made possible by the proprietary algorithms, RiskMD delivers insights to the user or insurance executive in the form of graphs, tables, and customizable gauges. These visualizations are designed to make understanding the insights simple and easy enough for any user to understand. They are color-coded in a green-to-red, “stoplight” method that makes quickly understanding areas of potential risk easier.

RiskMD provides automated reports that can be built once and then scheduled for direct delivery at the desired interval. This allows a more hands-off approach in which the most important indicators are delivered directly to the user’s desk, ensuring consistent oversight.

For users with a higher degree of data acumen, RiskMD allows them to pull various levers and manipulate data to gain deep and precise insights that would otherwise be extremely time-consuming to uncover. This ability to “slice and dice” information provides a level of understanding that makes a user’s ability to mitigate potential losses invaluable.

What results and objectives are achieved by RiskMD in a risk management setting.

Benchmarks are instrumental in providing key insights using data. RiskMD houses more than 100,000 claims files and exposure data for more than 20,000 client companies. This cache of data allows RiskMD users to benchmark against RiskMD proprietary data, as well as industry data. That ability to benchmark against the proprietary data became incredibly useful during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The insurance industry cycles through exposure, premium, and claims data on a period of about 12-18 months when accounting for audit periods. RiskMD cycles through this data on a bi-monthly basis due to data ingestion from its expansive PEO clientele, which report on a “pay-as-you-go” basis. When the global Coronavirus pandemic shut down the economy and upended the industry, NCCI, the preeminent Workers’ Compensation Bureau, contacted RiskMD for insights on how COVID was affecting claims and payroll.  RiskMD was the only known source that could provide real-time insights on jobs and job-related COVID claims. RiskMD provided NCCI with important insights as to how COVID affected jobs and payroll nationwide by quantifying claims incurred versus the reduced premiums collected.  This accurate capture of loss ratio was simply not available anywhere else due to the proprietary source of “pay-as-you-go” payroll exposure information.

Where Will the Wind Blow this Year? …Ask Europe

As the owner of a coastal home, the start of hurricane season always gets my attention along with the predictive models that come with it.  As an early storm spins in the gulf, the threat of windstorms once against is on the forefront.

As a data geek, of huge interest is the data pools collected, weights they are given, intervals of understanding them and algorithms produced and interpretations made as a result.

Out of the shoot some fun facts from our friends at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (full article at end of blog):

  • “A total of 10 to 16 named storms, tropical-strength or stronger, will likely cross the basin…one to four may become major hurricanes with winds of 111 miles (179 kilometers) per hour or more”
  • “Along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts there are more than 6.6 million homes with an estimated reconstruction cost of $1.5 trillion”

Unfortunately the past has not fared well for NOAA’s US predictive model (GFS) versus that executed by the European Center for Medium-range Weather Forecasting (ECMWF)  An article from last year that highlights the weaknesses of the US  v European model…  is accessible from the below link with highlights below.

https://mashable.com/2017/09/14/hurricane-irma-weather-forecast-models-gfs-vs-european/#03UD9HVxAOqI

  •  “The issue gained prominence after Hurricane Sandy struck New Jersey in October 2012, which the European model hinted at at least a week in advance. The GFS model, however, didn’t catch on to the storm’s unusual track until about 5 days in advance”
  • Critics of the GFS say it needs to be improved with greater computer processing power. In addition, they say, the model needs to process weather information in more advanced ways, with greater resolution in both the horizontal and vertical scale, since the weather on the surface depends heavily on what is going on in the mid-to-upper atmosphere.
  • “Michael Farrar, who heads the Environmental Modeling Center (EMC), which is the lead office within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that develops and operates computer models, said “it’s no secret” that the GFS has been behind the competition. “While it’s continued to improve remarkably over time… it’s consistently behind the European model,” Farrar said in an interview. “

Because you have a predictive model means you have some basis to understand the future, but not necessarily the best.  The breadth of data ingested along with the timeliness in which it is done along with the proper weightings within are paramount to properly forecasting outcomes.

“Forecast skill score comparisons, maintained by Brian Tang at the University of Albany, show that the European model was far superior to the GFS model during the long trek that Hurricane Irma took from off the coast of Africa, through the northern Leeward Islands, the Caribbean, Bahamas, Cuba, and then into the mainland U.S.”

“Here’s how to read this chart: The GFS model is represented by the acronym, AVNO, while the ECMWF is the European model. All the others are models from other countries and groups, such as the CMC, or Canadian model, and the UKM, from the UK Met Office. Also, the acronym, “OFCL,” represents the official Hurricane Center human forecast.”
To be succinct, this shows we were half as predictive with GFS versus ECMWF.

Annotated version of model verification scores for weather models' forecasts for Hurricane Irma.

“For now, forecasters are stuck with a temperamental model that can fail to catch on to upcoming threats until days after the European model has sounded the alarm.”

As the most innovative country on the technology front, ever… we need to step up our game in predictive analytics on the weather front – volume, velocity and variety – in order to be the world’s front line in understanding the course of “Acts of God”.  For now, the better answers appear to be across the Atlantic.

What NOAA Forecasts for 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season

By | May 25, 2018

On the heels of the costliest hurricane year on record, the Atlantic is expected to produce five to nine of the mighty storms during the six-month season that starts June 1, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said.

A total of 10 to 16 named storms, tropical-strength or stronger, will likely cross the basin, threatening people, real estate, crops and energy resources in the U.S., Mexico and the Caribbean, according to the agency’s annual forecast Thursday. Of those, one to four may become major hurricanes with winds of 111 miles (179 kilometers) per hour or more

“Regardless of the seasonal prediction, Atlantic and Gulf coast residents need to prepare every year,” Gerry Bell, a forecaster with the Climate Prediction Center, said during a conference call. “There are over 80 million people between Atlantic coast and Gulf coast that can be affected by a hurricane.”

Hurricane season is closely watched by markets because about 5 percent of U.S. natural gas and 17 percent of crude comes out of the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Energy Information Administration. In addition, the hurricane-vulnerable coastline also accounts for 45 percent of U.S. refining capacity and 51 percent of gas processing.

Florida is the world’s second-largest producer of orange juice. Along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts there are more than 6.6 million homes with an estimated reconstruction cost of $1.5 trillion, according to the Insurance Information Institute in New York.

Costliest Year

Last year the U.S. was hit by three major hurricanes — Harvey, Irma and Maria — that helped drive total losses to more than $215 billion, according to Munich Re. It was the most costly season on record, surpassing 2005 which produced Katrina. Overall 17 named storms formed in 2017, which fell in line with NOAA’s prediction of 11 to 17.

The forecast is influenced by conditions across the equatorial Pacific. Earlier this year La Nina collapsed and the ocean returned to its neutral state with the possibility of an El Nino forming later this year. El Nino, when the Pacific warms and the atmosphere reacts, ,,increases wind shear across the Atlantic that can tear apart hurricanes and tropical storms, reducing the overall numbers.

Conditions in the Atlantic will also play a role. Hurricanes need warm water to fuel growth and the basin is currently running colder than normal. Forecasters are currently watching a system in the Gulf of Mexico that may become a tropical depression by Saturday.

An average to above-average season means there is a greater chance the U.S. coastline and Caribbean islands are at risk, said Bell.

“When you have a more active season you have more storms forming in the tropical Atlantic and those storms track further westward,” Bell said. “Certain areas have been compromised from last year’s storms that makes hurricane preparedness ever more important this year.”