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NAPSLO attendees learn about predictive analytics as tool

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Predictive analytics, which involves analyzing “big data” to help take the guesswork out of business decisions, can be a valuable tool for insurers, according to a speaker at the National Association of Professional Surplus Liens Offices Ltd.'s (NAPSLO) 2014 Mid-year Leadership Forum in Scottsdale, Ariz., where attendees met speakers during the general session earlier this month.

Eric Siegel, a former Columbia University professor, has written and organized conferences on the use of predictive analytics. He explained how it involves the study of data to predict future activity.

Mr. Siegel said predictive analytics performs “very much the same core function of actuarial methods.” It learns from experience and “by experience, I mean data,” Mr. Segal said. “If we can use (the data) and interpret it correctly, it speaks,” he said.

“It doesn't necessarily tell us the why,” he added, however. For example, Mr. Siegel mentioned the apparently puzzling correlation between shark attacks and eating ice cream. The connection, he said, is likely that during warm weather more people eat ice cream, and go swimming.

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He said one unidentified commercial insurer's use of predictive analytics enabled it to decrease its loss ratio by a half a point, leading to an increased savings of almost nearly $50 million.

“It's a very broadly applicable technology. It has the potential to complement and augment standard actuarial methods,” he said.

Motivational speaker Erik Weihenmayer, a blind climber and author of “Leadership — Guess Who's a Better Climber in the Dark” also spoke at the general session.

Mr. Weihenmayer, who once climbed Mt. Everest, discussed his own background and experiences, including the loss of his sight from a rare eye disease as a teenager, and programs he has run, including a mountain climbing program for injured veterans.

In addition, Randall Jones, director of education for Kansas City, Mo-based NAPSLO, discussed educational opportunities the organization offers.

This year, 602 people registered for the conference. The 2015 Mid-Year Leadership Forum is scheduled for Feb. 23-26, 2015 at the Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach, Fla.