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2018 Corporate Responsibility Report

Focus: Digital responsibility

While creating new possibilities to deliver value directly to our customers and closing protection gaps (see above), the use of big data also raises questions concerning solidarity in society and the insurance principles of risk pooling. We seek to understand and proactively address the ethical challenges surrounding the digital transformation.

Various regulators around the world have started to evaluate the need for regulations on the topic of big data/digital ethics, or have even issued first guidelines. Swiss Re engages actively in the discussion with some regulators by way of feedback to consultations, by responding to regulatory questionnaires, by participating in industry groups, by writing articles and by participating in regulator-initiated discussion groups.

In 2018, we also continued our participation in a three-year research project on “dealing with ethical and legal big data challenges in the insurance industry”, conducted by researchers at the University of Zurich and the University of Applied Sciences HTW Chur. The project receives funding from Switzerland’s National Research Programme 75 on “Big Data” (www.nfp75.ch/en/projects/module-2-societal-and-regulatory-challenges/project-christen).

Firstly, the project analyses how re/insurers are affected by the ethical and legal challenges arising from the digital transformation and can address them. Secondly, it examines how legislation and regulations address them. Ultimately, the aim of the project is to propose an approach how to handle big data ethically in the re/insurance space.

In addition, we contributed to the publication “Big Data and Insurance: Implications for Innovation, Competition and Privacy”, published by the Geneva Association (www.genevaassociation.org). The publication looks at three key concerns raised in the public debate: privacy, individualisation of insurance, and competition. With the use of five scenarios, it examines how facts-based regulation can achieve a trade-off between the benefits and risks of using big data.

For Swiss Re’s commitment to data protection and privacy compliance, see Providing transparency.