What is Product Management?
The insurance industry is perpetually evolving through the use of technology, innovation, and data analytics. Data, both internal and external, has become readily available for insurance carriers over the past few decades. The use of this data is multifaceted, forever advancing, and has become vital to managing the profit and loss of an insurance company. The marketplace is increasingly improving in sophistication, exposing some insurance carriers to adverse selection and financial risk.
Risk selection, data-driven pricing, and portfolio management are common ways in which analytics mitigates this risk to a carrier. Thus, the role of product managers is borne–or the use of product management.
What a product manager aims to do is develop, deploy, and optimize business strategies that effectively manage the profit and loss of a portfolio through the use of analytics and technology.
Knowledge of marketplace activity and the availability of data equip product managers with the tools needed to optimize the product offering of an insurance carrier.
The process by which a product manager uses data is multidimensional and dependent upon each specific product strategy: think “Grow Homeowners by 5% over the next two years” or “Shrink Commercial Auto loss-ratio 2 basis points by Q4 2022.”
The execution of a product-centric strategy from data consumption through evidence-based decision making is below. Within each step, let’s take a look at what questions a product manager would solve for in the Homeowner growth example given above!
1. Introductory analysis typically consists of a view into risk selection, gaining insight into what the new and renewal mix-profile looks like.
a. What does the current Homeonwers quote mix look like? If so, is it the type of risk we’d want to push for further growth?
b. Would we categorize the book as growing, stagnant, or shrinking?
c. What does our competitive intelligence and market research tell us about how other carriers view this risk profile?
2. Product managers then compare that book profile to risk appetite for that line of business and understand if the profit and loss performance warrants that mix.
a. Does the above risk profile have a favorable loss performance?
b. If so, is it the type of risk we’d want to push for further growth?
3. Based upon the aforementioned analysis, product managers make evidence-based pricing decisions. Modifications to the current rate structure (pricing & factor curves), adding segmentation to the rating algorithm, or other pricing adjustments (endorsements, minimum premiums, etc.) are the tactics by which strategies are executed.
a. Ex: Is there added segmentation or rating algorithm modifications to spur growth in our most preferred risks?
b. How can we employ ease of doing business and straight-through processing as a growth lever?
c. Could giving agents more binding authority help grow our Homeowners book?
4. Following these changes, product managers will set expectations and build tools to monitor product performance and risk selection.
a. What was the impact of the proposed changes? Did the change meet our expectations?
b. What does the risk profile and loss performance indicate after changes are in effect, and how can we optimize the product offering further?
Thus, creating a cycle by which product managers are continuously optimizing the portfolio to achieve product strategies. See below:
Product management departments are common among large carriers but require significant financial and human capital to operate. My career began at a large insurance carrier, joining a small commercial product management department. I was a part of a new product launch, executed on a long-term state product strategy, and was the analyst for all three major lines of business in my geographic region. These organizations are built to be cross-functional teams that work collaboratively with most departments of the insurance carrier. Engagement varies by business unit, working mostly with underwriting, actuaries, and technology teams.
To achieve the broad business strategies above, a product manager must engage with all stakeholders in the policy issuance cycle; ensuring all data-driven pricing decisions are compliant, justified, and fit the culture of the client.
I now join the Mutual Capital Analytics (MCA) team to deliver key product insights and execute on strategic initiatives for our clients. MCA will integrate with your team and culture while being a trusted product management partner for your organization–everything a product management department delivers for a large carrier. We strive to provide for our clients!
Below are high-level examples of how a product manager would work with each business unit:
The ability to combine data analytics, complex product strategies, and the expertise of other business units is vital to compete in today’s insurance marketplace. A product manager lives in that marketplace.
Data availability and powerful tool suites enable insurance carriers to add innovative and analytics-based segmentation to their rating platform. The ultimate goal is to figure out for every client, line of business, or product, how to change the offering for customers or agents to compete profitably in a rapidly changing industry.
As competitors change their product offering, targeted rate actions are a needed capability to avoid adverse selection or financial risk. Product managers fulfill that need!
An investment made in product management is an investment made in the future success for an insurance carrier–one that strives to compete in an ever-changing marketplace, with a profitable and competitive offering.