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Transforming insurance with the new datafication of uncertainty 
Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen (Tampere University)
Maiju Tanninen
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Tamar Sharon (Radboud University)
Gert Meyers
Traditional Open Panel

Short Abstract:

Insurance institutions form a crucial infrastructure in contemporary societies. It is often claimed that artificial intelligence will fundamentally transform the insurance industry. This panel examines to what extent and how new datafication is actually changing insurance practices.

Long Abstract:

Insurance institutions form a crucial infrastructure in contemporary societies, as they pool and distribute risk, produce welfare, and build up trust that backs up economic activity. Within the insurance industry, it has been widely assumed that big data and artificial intelligence will disrupt the business at every operational scale. Through techniques such as data analytics, machine learning, and automated decision-making, insurance is datafied in a new way, which could have far-reaching societal consequences. Yet, the industry’s discourse is often characterized by hype and loose promises – if not mere guesswork – about what might take place in the future. At the same time, social scientific analyses on the theme have often been based more on critical assumptions than knowledge of actual changes in the field. This panel examines to what extent and how digital technologies are actually changing insurance infrastructures and practices. By empirically examining real-world insurance activities, the research presented in the panel will offer a corrective to both over-optimistic industry views and superficial criticism. We are especially interested in work that investigates life insurance, car insurance, climate change-related (re)insurance or cyber insurance. Important societal questions concern the potential individualization of risk, new ways of distributing responsibilities, and, more generally, changes in the collective forms of managing uncertainty.

Accepted papers: