International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation

Helping members through the sharing of intelligence

I was recently asked to write this blog on behalf of ICMIF’s Intelligence Committee (IC) and pleased to take up the challenge. I was delighted to have been elected as Chair of the Committee last November and also to now have this opportunity to tell ICMIF members about the great work that the IC does. When thinking about the blog, however, I did wonder about how many ICMIF members know that ICMIF has an Intelligence Committee, why we meet, what we discuss and then what happens with that information?

The goal of the IC is ultimately to help ICMIF members advance their thinking by identifying important trends and areas for IC members to research. We aim to provide an environment where individual companies can explore ways of addressing challenges or capturing new opportunities, which can then be shared with the broader membership of the Federation through articles, blogs and reports produced by the team at ICMIF based on our research.  We typically dig into one or more topics at each meeting of the IC that are deemed most important to the group, and we always generate good discussion and debate.

Among the items discussed at the last IC meeting were two topics that I believe are going to have profound impact on our sector over the coming years:  the “internet of things” and cognitive computing (aka “big data”).  Individually and together these two technology-driven developments have the potential to radically reshape how we address our member-policyholders’ needs and how we impact their lives for the better.

The “internet of things” comprises a very wide range of existing and potential technology solutions that will allow us to collect and analyze what’s going on in the world in real time through the use of mobile sensors connected to ourselves, our homes, our cars, or to almost any other thing.  Many of our members are already using telematic devices in automobiles to help price motor insurance more accurately, and, more importantly, help members improve their driving and reduce accidents.  We heard from at least two companies during the last IC meeting that are actively testing sensors in homes that will detect temperature, smoke, or earthquake activity in order to help reduce property damage.  Finally, the IC also heard from several companies that are actively working on tests that will monitor heartrate, activity, blood pressure, cognitive function and other health indicators in order to help their members live healthier lives.

The last IC meeting also enjoyed a great demonstration and discussion with two leaders from IBM’s “Watson” team.  Watson is IBM’s cognitive computing platform that is at the forefront of the latest thinking in augmenting human intelligence with the massive power of super computers.  Several IC members told us that their organizations are already testing the idea of using cognitive computing for marketing and to conduct or assist with underwriting.  I believe it’s only a matter of time before this becomes the norm in our industry. 

Supercomputers are also behind many of the advanced weather prediction models that enable us to better analyze exposure to catastrophes and use that knowledge to help our policyholders reduce the impact of adverse weather events.  At Thrivent we are exploring how to use Watson to analyze all 1 million of our incoming customer service calls to identify trends, understand potential product issues and develop better training for our customer service representatives!

What I find most encouraging about these emerging developments is that throughout our conversation at the meeting, the discussion was not about how we could use these technologies to increase profits, but rather how to improve the lives of our members and policyholders.  As mutuals and cooperatives, our purpose is not simply to drive maximum value for shareholders or owners, but rather to help improve people’s lives through our products and services.  I think the “internet of things” holds particular promise for our sector, because it could give us the ability to connect more frequently with our members and help them live better, healthier, more productive lives.  I believe that we are truly at the beginning of a massive shift in the way we do what we do.  It’s an exciting time, and it’s fantastic to get to be part of these discussions at the Intelligence Committee where we can share ideas and ultimately help the entire sector learn faster and do more for our respective members!

For more information on the work and structure of the Intelligence Committee please visit the governance area of the ICMIF website here.

If you would like to find out how you can get involved the Committee’s work please contact Faye Lageu, Vice-President, Business Intelligence (


The Intelligence Committee recently held its second meeting of 2015 at NFU Mutual’s headquarters in Stratford upon Avon, UK.  I would like to express my thanks to Lindsay Sinclair, CEO of NFU Mutual, for hosting us and to IC member Gina Fusco, Director Strategy and Marketing at NFUM, for all of her work to make the meeting a success.   The meeting was well attended by representatives from across the ICMIF membership, and as usual I left the meeting energized by the discussion, thankful for the friendships, and optimistic about the future of our industry. 

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