In a couple of weeks from now, Swiss Re in partnership with IBM will play host to a hackathon in Bangalore, India. Traditionally, insurance and technology have been like apples and oranges. But times are changing. The first ever Swiss Re hackathon was held in New York last December which received a very encouraging response. So it's only natural that the second be held in the silicon valley of the east, home to over a million technology geeks. And the timing couldn't be better with the Indian government over the weekend announcing various measures to remove obstacles for startups in India.
For those insurance folks who are unfamiliar with hackathons, it's an event where computer programmers spend a short period of time, huddled together drinking beer and eating pizza, collaborating to create a complex set of codes for a project. In this case, for 24 hours over the weekend, in an open workspace under the metro station(how cool is that?)- minus the beer(sorry guys), developing a "personal risk advisor" app using IBM's Bluemix Watson cognitive sevices.
Many of you have been asking me why is a re/insurance company getting involved in a hackathon? If you look around, technology is increasingly playing a huge role in our everyday lives. With that comes big data. And insurance can make use of it. Take the example of telematics. Your driving habits monitored by an insurance company can help better peronsalise your policy, influence your driving behaviour and possibly lower your premium. For the insurance company, it will mean better risk selection, fraud reduction, improved claims handling or offering additional riders/services.
Wearable devices, driverless cars, disruptive technologies are all forcing change in the industry. A traditional motor insurance policy may not hold good in a few years time when driverless cars hit the road. While an uber-drone will present it's own set of risks when it takes to the air. And in the age of smart apps, selling insurance products will evolve too. Imagine an app that will instantly tell you exactly how much and what kind of cover you or your business requires based on your risk profile?
Personally, as one of the volunteers for the event, it's a matter of pride that Swiss Re is organising a first of its kind insurance hackathon in India. I'm eagerly looking forward to interacting with students, entrepreneurs and IT professionals. Technology has a huge role to play in the insurance industry from product development to delivery. And the time is now for the two sectors to come together to leverage on each others strengths.
Be sure to follow #SRHackathon16. I will be live tweeting from the event. You can also learn more here: http://www.swissre.com/events/asiahackathon.html.
Location: Bangalore, Karnataka, India