Progressive Hiring Data Scientists as Analytics Needs Grow

Progressive Corp.PGR -0.50% is hiring more data scientists as it ramps up experiments with real-time analytics tools to deliver more customized insurance offerings, Chief Information Officer Ray Voelker told CIO Journal on Wednesday. Such tools could help Progressive decide how and when to offer new products to a customer as they shop.

Say a customer visits Progressive’s website looking for an auto insurance quote. If that person also happens to rent an apartment, “do we offer renters insurance to this person up front, or do we just sell them the auto insurance today and then go back a month from now,” Mr. Voelker said.

Progressive’s Ray Voelker

Progressive Corp.

The challenge lies in taking information about customers while they’re on the site, quickly combining it with other data sets, then using decision algorithms to determine the best quote or course of action for shoppers before they leave.

Getting it right will require Progressive to experiment with different real-time offers and to tweak its algorithms as it figures out which approaches work. “You can maybe get a read up front, but the results have to develop over time,” Mr. Voelker said. Read more

Workers-comp provider Pinnacol Assurance wants OK to expand outside Colorado

Pinnacol Assurance, Colorado’s state-chartered workers’ compensation insurance provider, will ask the state Legislature next year to allow it to sell policies in other states.

It’s Pinnacol’s first push for major changes to its business model since itspoorly received effort at privatization in 2012.

The plan would allow Pinnacol, which provides workers’ comp policies to 60 percent of Colorado businesses, to insure the out-of-state workers of companies based here — and also to compete for customers of businesses in other states that have no connection to Colorado.

Pinnacol officials would set up a wholly-owned, for-profit subsidiary that would handle the company’s out-of-state business and would ensure that the majority of that board would be different than the Pinnacol board or executives to which it would report.

Such a move would cost roughly $75 million, which would come from the company’s $2.4 billion in assets, including roughly $800 million in surplus, Pinnacol President and CEO Phil Kalin said. Read more