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‘Data are crucial to VIVAT’

The eleven students of insurance company VIVAT who started on the Data Expert Master’s program at the Jheronimus Academy of Data Science (JADS) in January have just finished their first block. They are happy about the program so far. ‘JADS combines the knowledge of data with the application of data, and that makes it a superior program.’

Says Marcel van de Lustgraaf, VIVAT’s Managing Director of ITC and as such responsible for IT, Change and Data. VIVAT is the holding company of fund and asset manager ACTIAM, and insurance brands Zwitserleven and Reaal. It offers its clients smart and progressive solutions that are both simple and customized. Besides that, it wants to be trendsetting as a financial service provider. “That is why knowledge of data and training on data take up a prominent place in our organization. Data is an important resource for VIVAT.  It is crucial for us to be able to respond to the analysis of data and the possibilities involved. If we fail to do so, we will lose our market position and we will be superseded by other insurers and future competitors. We need to keep abreast of developments to stay in the lead.”

Knowledge of data in the organization

Data is not just important for the ICT branch of the organization, Van de Lustgraaf argues, “It is vital for our company as a whole. Every employee needs to know what it is, what you can do with it, and how to deal with it. That is why some three-hundred employees already took a basic course on it at our own VIVAT Academy. In addition, we have created a ‘data community’. Within this network, lectures are organized and we exchange knowledge. And last but not least, eleven lucky ones from various business units within the company started on the JADS Data Expert Master’s program in January.”

Superior and professional

VIVAT opted for JADS because it combines the technical and the soft side of data. “Wat is data and what can you do with it?,” Van de Lustgraaf explains. “We want to expand our staff’s knowledge in both areas. We compared several other Dutch programs with that offered by JADS, and JADS came out on top. It presents and deals with data in a superior and professional way. Besides that, the ‘class’ taking the Master’s course consists of a total of seventeen students, eleven of whom are from VIVAT. The course goes into examples from our own practice – privacy guaranteed of course – and after every block we evaluate how things are going. I am convinced that this kind of interaction between companies and educational institutions is the way of the future. By building a bridge between market and education you ensure that both remain fully up-to-date.”

Dynamic pricing

What makes data so important to insurers? Van de Lustgraag gives an example: “Recognizing patterns enables you to make use of ‘dynamic pricing’. This means that you adapt the price of insurance to the risk profile of the person involved. For example, ‘artificial intelligence’ makes it possible to read a chip placed in a car that recognizes the driving behavior of individual drivers. On the basis of the information acquired this way you determine the insurance terms. Privacy is always an important aspect here, by the way, and something that we never neglect. Another example is insurance consisting of modules that can be turned on or off. You pass the border and you immediately receive a message on your phone asking you if you want to turn on your travel insurance module.”

Fraud detection

VIVAT also uses data to see how often damages have to be paid for, for instance, and to detect fraud. “We see that a lot of moped insurance policies are taken out by middle-aged people between forty and fifty. Their son or daughter has turned 16 and now rides a moped or scooter. Insurance is more expensive for sixteen-year-olds, and there is a good reason for that.”

PhD-research at VIVAT

Cooperation between VIVAT and JADS may well expand in the future. “We are discussing having PhD students do research at VIVAT. We at VIVAT neither have the time nor the people to do this ourselves, so that would be great for us. The advantage for the students is that it offers them an opportunity to connect to actual practice. Both parties have expressed their intention to pursue this; we are currently working on the details. So: ‘to be continued.’