Project: Using data analysis technology to give motor insurance underwriters a clearer driver risk profile.
Managing Director: Michael Blaney | Operations Director: Julie Gibbons | KTP Associate: Duy Bui
School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Q: Your company shares something with KTP – they’re both celebrating their 40th anniversary. Things have changed a lot in your business in that time, as we can see from this KTP project.

JULIE: We started trading personal lines insurance here in Newry 40 years ago but since then we’ve grown into a broker of commercial and all manner of personal insurance, as well as offering financial services through our Ashtree division. In general, the insurance industry is probably one of the slowest to adapt to technological changes. Telematics, which is the whole area of usage-based insurance, is one of the biggest recent developments. We’ve been the first in Europe to launch a smartphone app, using telematics technology to measure driver behaviour and we’ve been the first to link that to a live policy in order to transact business.

MICHAEL: This kind of analysis wouldn’t have been dreamt of when  the business started 40 years ago. When you consider how things have  moved on in that space of time, it’s all dramatically different.

JULIE: We launched the app in 2012 and it has really increased our  profile over the past three years, right across the UK. We really wanted to  capitalise on that and trade more business, specifically in the niche market of telematics. I’d always been aware of KTP but nothing had really rung a bell with us until we began to work on our enhanced platform. Through measuring driver behaviour we were collecting a lot of data about policy-holders but we had no expertise in this area because we’re a sales-led organisation. So to use the data effectively, to ensure that it’s secure and used correctly we thought – maybe there’s room for a KTP associate and we could make this a very interesting project that would be beneficial not only to our business but to the insurance industry as a whole.

Q: And that’s when you came on board, Duy. What’s your background?
DUY: I have an undergraduate degree in computer science and a Masters in business analytics from UCD. So I’ve got a background in working with data and that’s what I want to pursue in my career. I found this job on the internet and I went for it and got it. So far it’s been a wonderful experience and I’m learning more and more all the time about data analytic techniques.JULIE: We’ve really benefitted from having Duy on the team because he has such a comfort level with data and the scope of what we can achieve has increased as he’s been learning about the business. In order to do that, he had to start going through all the data and then put it all together like a jigsaw. Over the past 10 months he’s been helping every single department with their reporting needs, figuring out smarter ways they can pull KPI’s from the system, which they wouldn’t ordinarily be able to get.

DUY: It’s been a big learning curve for me. I’ve been learning on the job but I’ve also had a lot of support from my academic supervisor at Queen’s, Professor Jun Hong. I can see a career path emerging from this. Telematics, which I’m implementing here, is a new and emerging technology and I can see a role as a data analyst in the insurance industry in the future.

MICHAEL: Yes, there are very few people in the telematics market who would know how to run a driver profiler because it’s so new and there will undoubtedly be a demand for people with that skillset, who can answer the question – how do we manage all this data and ultimately translate it into pricing decisions? It needs someone like Duy, with that specialist knowledge, in the middle of the process to make it actually happen.