An industry consortium or other form of coopetition may be the best way for carriers to jump into the fast-moving world of AI, a tech entrepreneur who has held executive roles at major carriers suggested recently.

Executive Summary

Henna Karna, a technology entrepreneur who has led digital services, technology and data businesses at Verisk Analytics, AIG and AXA XL, as well as an insurance solutions business at Google Cloud, believes that building basic AI models is not a competitive advantage for any P/C insurance carrier. Karna, who describes her career without reference to those well-known employers but instead by focusing on her missions to solve the complex problems of closing protection gaps and using data to deliver customer-centered products, believes that understanding how to manage and mitigate risks are the skills that set carriers apart from one another. She recommends they collaborate rather than try to compete to develop basic AI tools.

Michael (Fitz) Fitzgerald, Insurance Industry Advisor for SAS Institute Inc., served as guest editor for this article and others featured in CM's Q1-2024 magazine, "Leading the AI-Powered Insurer."

During an interview with CM Guest Editor Michael (Fitz) Fitzgerald, Henna Karna suggested that building basic AI models is not a competitive advantage in the property/casualty insurance industry. Instead, understanding the nuances of different types of existing and emerging risks and how to manage them are the skills that set the industry apart—and set carriers apart from one another, she said, recommending that insurers focus their energies on innovations that align with those core skills.

“I would love to have a consortium in our industry where we’re producing AI models that are base layer. They’re not the IP layer. They’re just the base that everybody needs to have—because we shouldn’t be inventing ZIP code 500 times,” she said, referring to the use of geocoded data. That “ZIP code invention” is something that Karna, who engaged with hundreds of insurers around the world in a prior position at Google, has heard executives inaccurately call out as technology that sets their firms apart.

“Things like that, those sorts of fundamental AI models could be very useful for everybody across the insurance value chain. And they’re not the secret sauce. Even though we might think so right now, they’re not,” Karna said.

“How do we now change that mindset?” she asked. “I’m looking forward to that change.”

Karna’s work as general manager of Global Industry Solutions in Insurance at Google, creating an open-source offering of a layer of net-new data and analytics for the insurance industry, gave her a broad view of the P/C industry’s progress to date and the opportunities to come. Prior to Google, she spent more than a dozen years leading digital services, technology and data businesses at Verisk Analytics, AIG and AXA XL, igniting personal passions centered on dual goals of helping the industry become more customer-centric by leaning into data and digital experiences and closing protection gaps around the world.

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