It is a well-established fact that property and casualty insurance carriers need complete and actionable data resources to best serve their customers. Data and data analytics are the backbone of the industry, empowering insurers to make the best and most accurate decisions.
Most people concern themselves with the three primary uses of data in the industry – collection, analyzation, and management. But none of that work would be possible without data availability.
What is Data Availability?
Data availability refers to the ability of data to remain accessible at all times, including following unexpected disruptions.
Technology marketing consultancy TechTarget defines data availability as a term used by data storage manufacturers and providers to describe products and services that ensure that data continues to be available at a required level of performance in situations ranging from normal through “disastrous.”
In today’s insurance technology space, digital insurers require high data availability at lightning-fast speeds, as customers and insurers alike expect it. According to a report from Novarica, the ability to move, improve, and share data throughout an organization is crucial for a multitude of purposes beyond distribution.
Data availability allows insurers to keep up with the highly competitive insurance marketplace and best serve their customers. Data is vital for insurers to operate properly because it empowers product development, IoT usage, underwriting, customer service, and more.
How to Achieve Data Availability
1. Eliminate Single Points of Failure
When using and accessing data on a daily basis, P&C insurers likely have a typical process they utilize, often using only one touchpoint and access area. To ensure 100% data availability, it would be wise to deploy multiple access points to said data.
If a server, network, cloud, or storage device goes down, that shouldn’t mean operations come to a halt. Perform a single point of failure (SPOF) audit to determine if your data systems have any weaknesses. Once you have a complete picture of your data storage and access systems, you can put solutions in place before any issues arise.
2. Employ Redundancy
One of the best and most effective ways to eliminate single points of failure and ensure data availability is to employ redundant data systems—essentially a backup plan. It’s also recommended to have a backup for your backups, guaranteeing that your valuable data resources are never compromised.
Systems fail or corrode over time. With redundant systems, you can recover damaged, malfunctioning, or misplaced data and figures. Keep in mind, however, that data redundancy requires additional storage space locally or in the cloud, so consider the volume of data you’ll be working with and storing when deciding what kind of data system(s) you will use.
3. Prepare for a Disaster
If you eliminate single points of failure and employ redundant systems, you’ve done the bulk of the work needed to prepare for disaster. Your company should have both a disaster recovery and business continuity plan in place in case of system failure.
When it comes to data, know the objectives for both recovery time and recovery points. This should include timelines and defined goals for exactly what data needs to be recovered, and by when, to become and remain operational.
4. Institute Automatic Failover
Customers are interfacing with their insurance companies 24/7/365. With mobile applications and online portals, customers can access their account info, file claims, check their coverage, and more, so it stands to reason that your systems must be operational at all times.
Instituting an automatic failover plan protects you by automatically defaulting to your backup in the case of initial system failure. A comprehensive P&C insurance software platform should have functionalities that make automatic failover a seamless process.
5. Use the Right Tools
A quick fix to ensure data availability would be to have in-house IT teams install additional storage systems and grow your on-premises capabilities. But adding siloed, disparate data storage systems to your current infrastructure is just a band-aid, and will require a major upgrade in the near future.
Search for a solution that takes your siloed, ad-hoc systems and brings them under one umbrella. Whether that means a SaaS solution, in-house hardware, or something in the middle, a cohesive solution will better serve you in the long term.
6. Engage in Proactive Monitoring
Another tactic you should deploy is proactive monitoring of your data storage and analytics systems. Your IT team is likely already tending to this, but there are steps you can take to improve monitoring:
- Monitor the three primary areas of data–network, security, and application
- Test speed and performance at regular intervals, even outside of business hours
- Measure and compare throughput, which essentially means how hard the system is working to do its job
7. Explore Virtualization
Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is fast becoming the status quo in the insurance industry for a variety of reasons, notably its support of data availability. Hardware is by default more prone to component failure or corruption than cloud-based systems, so P&C insurers can better protect their data with SaaS insurance software platforms.
Software data solutions check many of the aforementioned boxes for data availability. Backup systems are more easily deployed virtually, and they require no physical, on-premises space. They can be accessed remotely, so monitoring and failover can happen automatically. Insurance software for data is also more easily scalable, so it can grow as your company does for years to come.