Underwriters - in the spotlight

It's now more important than ever for underwriters to be fully aware of the ethical side to their work and how to manage it effectively. You're in the right place to find out what that involves and how to go about it. 

Choose from one of these 'ethics and underwriting' themes. If you just want to browse, click here, or use the search box below.  

Pricing Practices 

"What are the ethical questions associated with insurance pricing? And how can we start delivering on them?" The regulator has spent several years considering this question and all the nuanced things that spring from it. That's where I can help.

Find out what the ethical issues are...

The final pricing report is about so much more than loyalty penalties (link)

The ethics of insurance pricing - 7 risks underwriters need to have on their radar (link)

Harsh lessons that UK insurers will learn from the pricing review (link)

Pricing is a prudential risk that comes with complications (link)

The underlying warning in the FCA’s report on household insurance pricing (link)

Dual Pricing in Insurance – the beginning of the end? (link)

Why insurers need to prepare for some tough scrutiny of their underwriting (link)

Some Insight I provide to Clients...

The more evidence gathered by the regulator about how insurers have been setting prices, the more the sector becomes exposed. What is vital for executives to understand is that the pricing review has set a number of 'hares running', and some with a significance much greater than how new and renewal prices are tied. 

Aligned with the further steps the regulator is taking on accountability and 'data pipelines', the scene is being set for some tough ethical stands being taken on underwriting trends. 

Where I add value for clients is through horizon scanning, independent insight and a critical friend role. 

Analytics, Data and the Digital Future 

"What do these calls for data ethics mean to how we underwrite business? Where do we start with data ethics? And what's expected of us?"

"Big data is not played under different rules", the Information Commissioner told insurers a few years ago. Data and analytics raise some significant ethics questions. Privacy is one, but there are other fundamental ones that insurers need to understand and have answers for. 

Find out what the ethical issues are...

Why insurers need to review their use of credit data (link)

Gender bias in artificial intelligence: a vital trust issue for Insurers (link)

Is big data steering insurance towards a cliff or a superhighway? (link)

Destructive demand: Is it happening in insurance underwriting now? (link)

Access to medical records is controversial but achievable (link)

Telematics will be much more influential than people think (link)

Nudging, ethics and modern insurance design (link)

Research for a client...

Big Data Conversation

Conferences I've spoken at on digital futures...


The ABI 'Cyber, Data and Technology' conference 2017

European Computer, Privacy and Data Protection - 2017

2016 Financial Times Future of Insurance Conference

Big Changes like Personalisation

"What should I be on the lookout for with all these big changes happening in insurance? Are there problems associated with 'personalisation?' What ethical risks should we watch for as our approach to underwriting evolves?"

These big changes are revolutionising insurance in exciting ways. They're also linked with some fundamental issues, like access to insurance and vulnerability. Just the sort of 'political' issues that will not go away. Understanding how they fit together is a big part of my work with clients.   

Find out what the ethical issues are...

Personalisation – could it take insurance into a digital winter? (link)

Behavioural fairness is a serious risk to the future of insurance (link)

Are loss prevention initiatives just trojan horses for data harvesting? (link)

Ethical storm ahead – insuring people with experience of mental illness(link)

The atomisation of insurance (link)

Why that magic element of big data could be fatal for insurers (link)

Social Sorting: could it be the stuff of nightmares for insurance firms? (link)

This guide explains the big issues...

ethics underwriting

Click on the guide cover to start the download

Some Insight I provide to Clients...

The trend towards ever greater personalisation in retail general insurance changes the relationship a firm has with its clients. Here are two ways...

Personalisation lets you know more about a person, but that doesn't in itself built trust. It's important not to confuse proximity with intimacy. The latter is only given when the person trusts you. 

And as personalisation becomes individualisation, arguments about social justice and accessibility can explode. Firms have to understand how this happens in order to prepare their response.  

Fairness and Non Discrimination 

"What should we be on the lookout for with issues like fairness and discrimination? What should our response look like? And where do we start?" 

This is where insurers will face some direct challenges. Forget about the technicalities of pricing, cover or risk. The media will raise some challenging questions and will want explanations. This is where you can start framing your response.

Find out what the ethical issues are...

Why discrimination is an enormous ethical problem for insurance (link)

Insurers must prepare for big changes around genetic testing (link

Ethical storm ahead – insuring people with experience of mental illness(link)

The big questions about vulnerability that your firm needs to address (link)

Two simple ways to make a fair decision (link)

Building a persuasive argument on fairness (link)

The dangers of unintentional discrimination (link)

Data, Equality and Insurance: a small survey (link)

Insurance, Fairness and the work of Marie Curie (link)

Moving the Debate forward...


In 2015, I took part in a panel discussion on fairness at the actuarial community's general insurance conference.

I've lectured on fairness and discrimination in insurance at the University of Leicester and the University of Southampton

My 2017 ethics lecture to the Insurance Institute of Ireland was based upon the practicalities of ethical decision making

What does this mean for your firm?

Helping clients to understand and respond to the ethical implications of their underwriting strategies is a big part of my work with insurance firms. 

Some of those ethical implications are in the public eye at the moment. I bring an independent and professional  mind to how you fashion your response. My input is well known for being pragmatic, yet full of insight about what different approaches could mean.

Other ethical implications are on the horizon. I give input into forums like the CII's Future Horizons Group and the Digital Ethics Forum, as well as a number of academic research groups.

My in-depth analysis is delivered to clients. They want to understand the ethical landscape in which their underwriting is developing, as well as the way in which ethical forces could impact on their plans. What they're seeking is greater certainty that their underwriting plans support the trust that they want their clients to have in the firm. 

Get in touch via the contact page (see top menu) if you'd like to meet up for a preliminary discussion. 

Current topics I'm working on...

  • Underwriting and application fraud
  • Behavioural bias affecting underwriting teams
  • SMCR and algorithmic trading
  • The use of credit histories in underwriting 
  • The influence of empathic agents in underwriting processes

This analysis is on issues at the heart of current and emerging underwriting practices. Get in touch if you'd like to know more.

This in-depth analysis of a key underwriting trend highlighted important ethical issues...

Smart Policy Wordings 

"What sort of ethical issues do smart policy wordings throw up? Is this something I should be engaging with suppliers on? What should I watch out for as these developments roll out?" 

Find out what the ethical issues are...

Can insurance delivered over the blockchain be labelled trustless? (link)

Smart contracts in insurance: clever but dangerous (link)

Click here to see all Underwriting articles

Recent articles on Underwriting...

The Big Ethical Challenge for Insurers in 2021

The big ethical challenge for insurers in 2021 will be to learn the lessons from events in 2020 and to apply them systematically across the firm. It will be a bigger task than many insurers think, but those who get it right will reap reputational rewards.

Read more

Why pricing data can send out all the wrong signals

Insurance people used to think of pricing as just a market thing. Now they recognise that fairness has to be factored in as well. Yet the ethics of insurance pricing has other dimensions that need to be factored in. If they’re not, the current pricing review will take even longer and become even more tortuous.

Read more

Is signposting as ethical as the market believes?

Signposting is being set up across a variety of retail insurance markets. The aim is to help consumers find the cover they need. Yet signposting is also a symptom of a stratifying market and that comes with all sorts of ethical implications.

Read more

The big ethical challenges facing insurers in 2020

2020 will be an eventful year for insurers. During the many years I’ve been tracking the ethical challenges facing insurers, never before have I seen so many issues demanding attention. Some firms will find the learning curve steep and challenging.

Read more