50 free insurance data sets you'll need

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The world is awash with data, but it's still surprisingly hard to find reliable statistics on what is happening in and around insurance. If you’re creating a business plan, sizing up a market opportunity, creating content, or assessing an investment, finding the data to make your case can be hard. Or expensive.

I’ve been building and reviewing business plans for years and come across some great free resources to help me along the way. It was time to catalogue the sources, and having done that I thought I may as well share them with the wider world - so here they are.

Some of the information is a few years old - and as companies increasingly become aware of the value of the data, some of these resources are disappearing behind paywalls. Use with care but grab it whilst you can. Imperfect facts are a better guide to decision making than foggy or fantasy forecasts. Hopefully, some of this data will help you make better decisions - and convince others to follow your advice.

Health warning: this is quite a long article - over 2,500 words and lots of links - if you have a low attention span I suggest skimming until you find something interesting rather than reading every word...

Premium Information

Insurance premium information is one of your data essentials. Understanding how much premium a company is writing, or is being generated by a class of business, is essential for market sizing. If you are building technology or selling data, looking for guidance on how to set prices, or how much your product is worth then premium is often a good proxy for what you might be able to charge.

Using a percentage of premium to figure out what your product may be worth to your buyer is a great sanity check. For example, in my prior life in catastrophe modelling, 1% of reinsurance premium was a good way of validating fees for an individual prospective client. At a country level it's a good guide as to whether to invest in building models at all.

The most detailed premium information is provided by AM Best or S & P but prices start at around $10,000. If you work for an established insurer or broker, your employer may already be licensing this data so ask around. Both companies do provide summary and aggregate data to third party publishers for free so if you can’t get the real deal, then the free versions may be enough. I cover these below.

For broad market sizing try the Insurance Information Institute (III), it has useful headline data, showing for example that U.S. insurance industry net premiums totaled $1.32 trillion in 2019. You will also find the top 10 companies by different insurance sectors here. If you want to go deeper, try the searchable database of the top 100 US insurers at reinsurancene.ws. It has the added benefits of links to recent news about the insurers themselves.

For who is who in global reinsurers, Atlas has a list of the top 50 reinsurers extracted from data published by AM Best. Interested in more obscure, or specialist data such as the top 30 insurance companies in Saudi Arabia? Then Atlas is also a good resource for that.

Statista is a subscription service, but offers a taster dish of free data such as its pie chart of global P & C premiums by region. A nice added touch is the ability to download the data as a spreadsheet. By the way, keep an eye on Statista's chart of leading insurance brokers, one chart that changes significantly every couple of years as consolidation continues. A Statista license isn’t expensive, but the data is limited compared to what you get from AM Best or S & P.

For a UK focus, Insurance Post has also just published a comprehensive table of the top 100 UK insurers for 2020. The data is behind a paywall, but Insurance Post offers a free trial so maybe you can try before you buy - or if libraries open again and you're in London pop into the City Business Library and get December's print version. NSinsurance has some summary data on the top 9 insurance companies in the UK which may be sufficient.

Unpicking the maze of the Lloyd’s market is a full time job in its own right. Lloyd’s publishes some excellent detailed information on each of its 110 syndicates but charges £3,000 to non-members. At one time this data was also available in business libraries. Atlas has a list of the top 20 syndicates from 2018, which covers those over $600 million annual premium, so a good starting point if you are looking for potential clients or wondering who is driving the performance at Lloyd’s.

Comprehensive list by company type

Many of the insurance market associations have full lists of their members. They tend not to have financial metrics so it's not possible to separate the big from the small, but useful nonetheless. The MGAA association in the UK links to members, as does the American Association of Managing General Agents. Insurance Post published a list of the top 50 brokers in the UK in 2016 – there’s quite a bit of consolidation going on in that market, but this is a good starting point. Head over to Insurance Age for the top 100 independent brokers from 2020 by revenue bands. A bit clunky in the way it is presented, but good enough for many purposes. For the US, Business Insurance offers you 2018 top US broker firms in a table (no need to squint, click to read).

Insurance coverage

Most of the time, you will want to know what types of insurance different insurers offer. Getting consistent data, by line of business, by premium, by insurer is hard, or impossible without paying for it. In some industry sectors, particularly where there are only a small set of participants, such as marine, or cyber, it can be easier to get information. Sometimes you need to come at this from sideways though. Lloyd’s list, for example, provides a list of the top 100 influential people in shipping, so it's possible to extract companies from that. There’s a lot of other free information on that site if you are interested in marine.

If you have good eyesight, the Bank of England’s List of UK authorised insurers is available, as compiled at January 2019. This gives a split by different classes- albeit at a high level.

Lloyd’s, of course, writes a very wide variety of classes of business. You can find out which managing agent writes what business free from the Lloyd’s website. It’s ordered by managing agent and with about 30 classes in each case requires a bit of data wrangling to figure who does what. If you are wondering who is going to license your cyber tool for example, then this is not a bad place to start.

It's possible to get deeper in to the individual Lloyd's managing agents and their syndicates with the report and accounts from Alpha Insurance Analysts. The most current forecast performance of individual syndicates against their business plans is provided by Hampdens.

Insurance Spending

To learn how we consumers are spending money, you can drill deeper into insurance spending in the UK by downloading the excellent free data from the ABI in excel – this provides information on average insurance spending, with variation by region, age, coverage type. This is where you will find useful insights such as that the average insurance premium of structure and contents per family, with a head of household age 30- 50 years old, is £382.

Bear that in mind if you are hoping to sell insurers data to improve their underwriting - or bundle in an IOT sensor. There is not much margin in these numbers to spend on risk selection, pricing or hardware. You'll also find out that in 2018 UK insurers wrote £2.7bn of commercial premium compared to £4.6 bn of domestic insurance premium, and how much they paid out in claims. Fascinating stuff.

Company by company level

To really understand what is going on at some point you will want to go deep into the leading insurance companies. S & P or AM Best will provide that if you pay. Alternatively, you’ll need to unpick the annual report and accounts.

The good news is that these such as the Aviva annual report are getting more comprehensive each year as companies are required to provide additional information on regulation, and risks. The downside is that also means more work to extract the information you need, and every company report is slightly different so comparing like with like can be difficult.

Country specific

Munich Re provides some excellent research, with good graphics showing trends and data for countries. This chart is a good example showing projected premium growth by countries over the next 10 years (and notice that China is forecast to triple in size).

Swiss Re through its Sigma research is probably the most comprehensive research into themes and markets with great data, and more excellent graphics. Axco provides detailed data on each country, and is well respected for its research and access in local markets around the world. It is currently offering a free trial of its Market Intelligence database.

Emerging markets and emerging risks

Opportunities for tapping into new markets can open up potential both for insurers looking for new lines and entrepreneurs looking to provide new analytics. The “insurance protection gap” totalled $84bn in uninsured losses (compared to $56bn) in 2019 according to Swiss Re so there is a lot of untapped potential.

The reason there is a gap, though, is because it's hard to price, aggregation potential is high and premium levels may not reflect the true risk. Five years ago Allianz forecast cyber premiums of $25bn by 2020 (from $5bn at the time), but today they are still lower than $10bn.

In June last year AM Best published a summary of coverage types, market growth, claims and the top 20 cyber insurers along with information on losses and numbers of policies in force, reproduced here gratis. This article by SpringerLink goes into detail around cyber insurance and is so cheap as to be effectively free.

New industries such as cannabis could hold great potential. According to London based New Dawn Risk, the legal US cannabis industry would pay about $1 billion in annual premiums if it were insured to levels normal for other businesses but insurers are generally keeping clear. For a wide range of reports and reliable data on emerging markets, dig around the Geneva Association website.

Funding and Acquisitions

We all know that venture funding alone is not the perfect indicator of the quality of a company, but if you are like me, I’m sure the mega investments get your attention. Investment funding is a good guide as to whether a company can start to pay for your services if you are selling, pay you properly if you are looking for your next job, or will be around for a few years if you are a buyer.

The go-to source for most companies is Yahoo owned Crunchbase – much of the information is still free including funding rounds (where these are disclosed), investors, a handy summary of what the company does and more. Check out, for example, how our friends at Friss are doing, in the Crunchbase news items including a link to my recent podcast with CEO Jereon Morrenhof. Be warned though, some of the Crunchbase data is out of date or incomplete.

The two best sources I’ve found to track recent funding news, and acquisitions, are the quarterly reviews by FT Partners and the quarterly insurtech reports by Willis (led by Andrew Johnston, my guest on Episode 97 of the podcast). The Willis report is simpler to read but has less information about individual companies. Both are in PDF format. It's good to see a UK company leading the field for 2019 Q3 funding (Brit owned Ki at $500m) – my podcast with CEO Mark Allan and James Birch of Ki is Episode 84 and one of the most popular.

You'll come across various lists of top 100 Insurtech companies. Some are of dubious quality (listing companies that have closed down is a common indicator of sloppy journalism). Most are useful for identifying what companies do. Don't pay too much attention to the order of the listing, many great companies, particularly those that bootstrap and spend less time marketing, operate below the radar of these listicles.

Insurance rates, up and down

Each of the brokers Aon, Marsh and Willis provide their own assessment of the state of the market and how it's changing year to year. Aon Thought Leadership provides a comprehensive library here and Guy Carpenter offers its Risk Benchmark report.

Other interesting sources

Catastrophe bond issuance is becoming a significant part of the global reinsurance market, with around $100bn of bonds outstanding. Artemis deal directory provides an excellent directory of all the bonds that have been issued with details of the issuer, size and coverage.

If you want a comprehensive view of parametric insurance, and the companies to watch, download our free InsTech London Parametric Insurance report. Look out for more of these reports from us in other key areas in 2021 starting with Robin Merttens on e-placing platforms, followed by Matthew Grant (that's me) on Location Intelligence.

The Cambridge University Risk Centre creates an annual 100 cities risk index, assessing the impact of 24 different natural and man-made hazards. More comprehensive reports are provided on the site for individual areas such as cyber. The university has strong links with insurance, risk managers in corporates and modellers and the content is usually exellent. It's worth noting that the 2019 report had pandemic as the 4th largest loss with $49.9bn GDP at risk.

Coverager used to provide a lot of great free data, but much of it is now available to subscribers only – fair enough as Shefi and Avi need to get paid for all their great research – still some decent information on the website though, and maybe some of the free content is still in there somewhere. London-based Oxbow partners do a good job with their annual insurtech 25 companies and useful data here, but beware the sell-by date given how fast things change in this space.

By the way if anyone from VentureScanner is reading this can you please update your insurance technology map - the reinsurance category in particular is about five years out of date and still lumps in multi-billion global reinsurers with zombie startups. Not all free data is good data.

Going going gone...

I suspect we’ll have less choice in a year’s time, so grab this data whilst you can. This list is far from definitive, so please - if there are any other sources you know - let us all know by adding them in the comments below. And finally, at InsTech London we have over 160 sources of information, currently all still free with podcasts, interviews, reports and insights.

To keep track of what we are discovering each week - including my weekly "Free Report Worth Reading" and "Other People's Podcasts" - then sign up for our hand crafted newsletter delivered to wherever you are at 7.00am GMT every Wednesday morning.

Phew, who said longform was dead. For those that don't know me, I'm Matthew Grant, longstanding enthusiast for data, technology, entrepreneurs and innovation. Partner at InsTech London, host of our weekly podcast, occasional investor, recovering writer and board advisor. Please do contact me via LinkedIn if you think we can help you share your stories, build your business or figure out what's going on in insurance.

And finally - if this was any good, please comment below and share with your friends and fellow workers. Until next time - Matthew.