When it comes to improving the lives of their clients and colleagues through data literacy, Safety National writes the book
“Moore’s law dictates that computing capacity doubles every two years. Just look at the hype around Generative AI; the computer really is not that smart. What it now has is an increased capacity to absorb and analyze data. But without literate users, all that computational power is moot.” Bill Wilkins knows whereof he speaks. As Vice President, Chief Risk and Data Analytics Officer for specialty insurance and reinsurance provider Safety NationalⓇ (SNCC), he’s on a quest to improve data literacy.
SNCC is a member of Tokio Marine Group, whose companies are among the highest rated in the industry. With over $200 billion in assets, Tokio Marine is among the top 10 insurance groups in the world. Offering specialized expertise, flexible program and placement design, and unique claims proficiency, SNCC is also a leading provider of excess workers’ compensation for self-insured employers and groups nationwide and a leading multi-line provider of risk solutions for large commercial and public entity clients.
The company’s reinsurance division, Safety National Re, offers lead market terms for a full range of workers' compensation and professional liability programs.
In his almost 40 years in the industry, Wilkins has been at the forefront of insurance technology, working with individuals who think outside of the box. A problem-solver by nature, when he joined the firm he was a commercial auto and general liability actuary. “Over time, my responsibilities expanded to the role that I do best, solve problems,” he said. “With our clientele, we have access to an amount and detail of information most insurers do not have. We continually try to expand the information utilized to help our clients, and we do that free of charge.”
Wilkins has spent his career expanding the practice of data analysis and trying to use it for good. “Not everybody in the insurance or other industries do that,” he said. “The more data-literate people there are, the better the chance we have at a good ethics stance and the better chance we have on using it successfully for society.” Tokio Marine leaders are dedicated to educating their companies and clients about what data literacy is, how it relates to cyberspace, and how it improves job performance, efficiency, and safety.
“Society has trained folks to rote memorize and trust in the technology, and I think we've done a big disservice because most people don't know how the technology works,” he mused. “If more people understood what analytics does and what AI is truly doing, they wouldn't be as afraid of it. But they would also be very wary about what they're doing. The amount of information that is captured and put out there is significant and it's very, very useful.”
Wilkins and his team have been part of the process to streamline SNCC’s underwriting process with automation to help the company and its clients save time and money. “With the AI work that has and continues to be done, we provide insights to help identify potential issues.”
On the risk side of the business, the firm’s data experts can now model new scenarios and situations that they’ve been unable to previously. As he put it, “Whether it’s the power grid going down or an occupational disease running through the workforce, data and computing power allow you to take a much broader look at the world.”
The firm offers a range of analytics products to help their clients improve their employees’ safety. These products are paired with expertise from SNCC’s underwriting and risk services groups to determine where and how the renowned insurer can help improve their clients’ results. “We’re in the process of streamlining our underwriting process with automation and readily available information to ease the administrative burden on both SNCC staff as well as our customers,” he said. “Every accident we prevent for them improves their employees’ lives and their bottom line.”
The commodification of tech platforms and tools has been well underway for years, and hype about this or that new tool to increase efficiency and productivity abounds. “That to me is not true innovation,” he said. “True innovation is coming up with a product before everybody else because you can see where the world is going. One of the things I'm excited about most is that we're freeing up time.”
Wilkins was the beneficiary of a rotation program in the early days of his career, which gave him a terrifically rounded background. “I didn't just go from reserving to commercial pricing to personal pricing,” he said. “I was trained as an underwriter. I worked with the business development people.”
Now, as CDAO, he has a lofty goal to enhance SNCC’s flat management structure and recreate similar experiences related to it. With the data literacy platform going into place, he is working with the firm’s human resources group to develop a lattice framework for people to move through the company and develop a rich and rewarding career journey. “It means giving our people a significant amount of curriculum to let them learn new things so they can take what they've learned in their old position and go to a completely different department.”
In the final analysis, the right data analysis team can take massive amounts of data, synthesize it, and create additional movements on it, but they also have to communicate what the technology is and what it does. “The explainability is getting much better,” Wilkins admitted. Consider “black box” AI models, which don’t allow users to see operations or inputs, essentially answering complex questions without showing their work.
“A lot of really good things over the past decades weren’t accepted because anytime you get a black box, you get distrust. What you really do need is the ability to explain what's in the box,” he said. “The technology is making it so much easier to do that. The technology is allowing us to decide questions such as, ‘Is there a market for this? Is this really an issue?’”
Thanks to the organization’s forward thinking and Wilkins’ dedication, those answers will make life better for everyone – just as every kind of literacy does.
Safety National is a leading specialty insurance and reinsurance provider. Serving thousands of customers nationwide for over 80 years, the Company offers specialized expertise, flexible program and placement design, and unique claims proficiency.
Safety National exists as the market leader in excess workers’ compensation for self-insured employers and groups nationwide and a leading multi-line provider of risk solutions for large commercial and public entity clients. The company’s reinsurance division, Safety National Re, offers lead market terms for a full range of workers' compensation and professional liability programs.
Safety National is a member of the Tokio Marine Group and is rated A++ (Superior), FSC XV by A.M. Best.
1832 Schuetz Rd
St. Louis, MO 63146
Phone Number: 888.995.5300
Homepage Link: www.safetynational.com