For insurers, the new world of big data and analytics is one that’s relatively unregulated. With that in mind, executives would do well to use these technologies responsibly so they don’t stimulate calls for government restrictions, a Fitch Ratings analyst said.

“Our view is that data privacy laws and regulations have lagged behind rapid technological advancement and may lead to restrictions on data use and the breath of data that can be collected as they catch up,” Fitch Senior Director Willem Loots said during a March 29 teleconference held, in part, to discuss implications of big data for the sector and the role outside disruptors play.

With that in mind, Loots said that responsible, careful use of data could help insurers in the long run as they incorporate big data and analytics into their operations.

“For now, insurers have an opportunity to behave responsibly in how they apply data analytics, reducing the need for considerable regulatory pushback,” Loots said during the call. “The insurance industry has some degree of discretion on how invasive their data collection processes become. As such, its ability to show restraint may influence development of additional privacy restrictions.”

Insurers should pay particular attention to the issue of privacy and content, and they should tread carefully before they use data to discriminate against individual policyholders rather than simply help shape better behavior.

Loots said that it would cross a line for insurers to use data to discriminate against potential or actual policyholders from a pricing perspective. A better option, he said, would be to use data to help reduce risks in an existing portfolio, by encouraging insureds to improve their behavior from an underwriting perspective.

“We believe most insurers would likely behave responsibly [in that scenario] to avoid some pushback on that front,” Loots said.

Loots and Fitch Managing Director Jim Auden held their teleconference to also highlight Fitch’s Disruptive Technology Insurance report.

Topics Carriers Legislation Data Driven