Data science and life insurance

November 18, 2019

Montoux is a Wellington-based business that works with life insurers globally to raise their performance. The company’s software uses data science and actuarial science to help insurers understand and monitor their markets.

Klaas Stijnen, Co-CEO and founder, says he asked Dragonfly to help in a couple of areas because he thought their approach to data science was the most appropriate for his needs.

“We had figured out that data science was a key part of our offering. I’d been in touch with Ed and Finlay multiple times since I started the business because I knew they were doing interesting things. I wanted them to help us grow a data science practice and to help us build the right tools for a specific client.”

Klaas started Montoux 7 years ago after working as an actuary in life insurance for 15 years. He says this background enables him to present the value of data science to actuaries in a specific way that’s natural to them.

“As an actuary I always felt that we had the data and the techniques but we didn’t have the tools to make better decisions. I made it my mission to figure out what those tools should be. What we have done at Montoux brings a whole lot of things together to help insurance companies price products and manage customer retention, sales and distribution.”

Montoux had one part-time data scientist until 2 years ago – they now have a team of six.

“Finlay helped me with interviews for new staff as well as with understanding what a good team of data scientists would look like and what they needed to be successful.”

Montoux was also interested in working with Dragonfly to develop the data science related to a new product the company was considering taking to market.

Klaas says a lot of prediction models are focussed on the quality of the prediction rather than it being understandable.

“In this case, we needed a descriptive technique to show what was happening and interpret the results for the client. Dragonfly was very helpful as they are experts in Bayesian methods and Finlay was also able to help me with how to communicate what we had done to the client.”

Montoux’s goal is to work alongside actuaries in insurance companies to set up customised prediction models, then help them become part of the day to day decision making.

“We believe the most value from our service comes when actuaries own the data science outcomes – only then will they use them. I think there’s a huge challenge that’s broader than the insurance industry about how best to use data science for business decision-making and how to get ongoing value from your data. I know this is an area that Dragonfly are also interested in.”

Read more about our work building data science capability with clients.