Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Brokers and insurers must work


Brokers and insurers must work even closer together to create actionable risk insights

Insurers and brokers must work more closely on data analytics to generate more holistic insights for customers, according to Zurich Commercial Insurance’s Kirill Pankratov, global head of transformation and Peter Davis, head of distribution EMEA and global broker networks.

As highlighted by this year’s World Economic Forum Global Risks Report, businesses face an almost overwhelming range of complex risks, from extreme weather and cyberattacks to adverse outcomes of AI technologies. In response, many are turning to advanced risk analytics to help understand such risks better, and to anticipate the future risk landscape.

Access to a growing volume of risk-relevant data continues to widen, while the insurance industry’s risk analytics capabilities and expertise has accelerated in recent years. The ability to efficiently deliver tailored insights, repeatedly and at scale, is now a reality. While at the same time, the development of APIs and Risk Management Systems is improving connectivity, opening the door to greater sharing of data and insight.

Each party in the insurance value chain—including insureds, brokers, and insurers—already harnesses valuable data, insights, and expertise. Currently, this wealth of information is analysed and utilised effectively within each group. However, there is an opportunity to achieve even deeper understanding of risks, exposures and perils through expanded collaboration on risk analytics.

By working even closer together, brokers and insurers can deliver greater risk insights that customers need in order to meet the challenges of today’s changing landscape.

According to Mark Blanchard, claims proposition & broker relationship leader at Zurich Insurance Company: “The ability to unlock the unstructured claims data, that was previously held in expert reports or confined to the realms of data held by claims suppliers, contains a treasure trove of insight that can be harnessed. The nature of this data is inherently unique to the claim and rarely crosses the boundaries of claims data shared between insurer, broker and customer. One forward looking example would be the ability to utilise claims data provided by panel law firms to understand any shift or trend arising from a change in legal regulation and its impact on an insured’s risk. There needs to be distinction between the market data that is available, observing the macro trends and the claims specific data, unearthing early observations on the specific impact to a customer, industry, location or the nature of damages. Early identification and collaboration will help understand risk but equally help understand any claims mitigation or defensibility strategy. The Zurich Claims Commitment reinforces the spirit of collaboration between the parties whether this relates to the portfolio or the individual claim.”

Supporting brokers in all market segments

Brokers are the linchpin between insurers and the end customer, and play a critical role in helping to turn customers’ business needs into actionable risk strategies. Zurich Commercial Insurance alone interacts with more than 15,000 broker organisations, underscoring the extensive reach of brokers in the insurance industry.

However, brokers come in all shapes and sizes, from the large global full-service broking houses and international broker networks, down to smaller independent brokers that bring local, industry, or line of business specialist expertise. And while some brokers have in-house departments staffed with data scientists, big data engineers, risk modellers and AI experts, this is far from universal.

Through closer cooperation, insurers can complement the services of large brokers, as well as work with smaller specialist brokers to give customers access to advanced data analytics and insights. Rather than every broker developing their own in-house analytics capabilities, brokers can collaborate with those insurers, who have already established and scaled their data analytics infrastructures and capabilities.

Insurers can also support brokers and their customers with targeted insights and subject matter expertise. For example, if an international European company with US operations wants to better understand the potential impact of US litigation trends, insurance companies like Zurich can support them and their broker with valuable insights into loss drivers, risk mitigation actions and coverage considerations. This has been discussed previously in more detail in the article A multi-front battle rages against litigation abuse | Zurich Insurance.

What does collaboration look like?

Insurer-broker collaboration on data and analytics could take several forms. At a portfolio level, brokers and insurers can work together using advanced data analytics to better understand challenges within high-risk sectors or analyse emerging trends in loss activities.

Insurers can also work with brokers to deliver specific insights on a customer-by-customer basis. Picture a scenario where, through systematic and ongoing monitoring, insurers have data that reveals an early trend in uptick of piracy and instability affecting marine shipments in some trade routes. Equipped with this knowledge, brokers and insurers can proactively advise shipping companies on what risk management strategies to implement, such as rerouting through safer waters, investing in private security for high-risk shipments, better protecting vessels to prevent boarding, implementing contingency procedures in the event of an attack, or even navigating stretches of water only in certain hours.

Or consider the risks associated with the transition to green technology. An insurer and a broker, utilising insurer-provided insights, could identify the unique exposures of companies investing in renewable technologies. They could then advise on specialised insurance products that cover the nascent risks of tech performance or regulatory shifts, fostering confidence as customers navigate the transition to sustainability. Similarly, a company could work with its broker and insurer, using powerful analytics, to understand the likely impact of climate change on its property assets, and to weigh up potential actions to improve resilience.

Actionable insights

Getting actionable insights from risk analytics requires more than just analytics tools. These insights will need to be enriched with specialised expertise, as they often prompt complex questions that brokers alone may not always be equipped to address comprehensively. To fully leverage these insights, both insurers and brokers need to collaborate closely, bringing together the relevant specialists to discuss and develop potential risk solutions. This collaborative approach ensures that the resulting insights are not only informed but also effectively used to meet the specific needs of their customers.

Brokers will have their own insights, but insurers bring a unique perspective. They can draw on their deep knowledge, experience and data, accumulated over many decades, particularly with regards to claims, exposures evaluations and risk assessments.

The collaborative relationship between insurers and brokers, powered by advanced data analytics and AI, will be pivotal in creating innovative solutions that pre-emptively address complex risk landscapes. And by working closer together, insurers and brokers can provide comprehensive risk insights even more efficiently, ensuring that customers benefit from the highest level of service and expertise from their risk partners.

Contributed by Kirill Pankratov, global head of transformation and Peter Davis, head of distribution EMEA and global broker networks, Zurich Commercial Insurance.

Weirdest, Wildest Museum Stories


Floating Finnish trees, a mountain’s mystery, and more.
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May 28, 2024

10 of the Weirdest, Wildest Museum Stories You’ll Ever Read

Illustrator Bob Eckstein shares his favorite strange stories from some of the world’s most famous museums.

Boston's Museum of Fine Arts is packed with masterpieces—and sometimes there's more than one on the same canvas. ALL ILLUSTRATIONS: BOB ECKSTEIN/COURTESY PRINCETON ARCHITECTURAL PRESS

This story is excerpted and adapted from Bob Eckstein’s Footnotes from the Most Fascinating Museums: Stories and Memorable Moments from People Who Love Museums, published in May 2024 by Princeton Architectural Press. All rights reserved.

Museums are reflections of everything we’ve created and accomplished up until now on this planet. These are really giant selfies. While researching museums, I heard literally hundreds of stories from museum lovers, museum curators, and tourists. Here are my top 10 weirdest and most fascinating museum stories.

The exterior of the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio.
The exterior of the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio.

Columbus Museum of Art

Columbus, Ohio

The Columbus Museum of Art is one of the most accomplished museums in the country and on the list of National Register of Historic Places. It includes some of the best late 19th- and early 20th-century American and European art. But all museums face challenges, as shared by Max Strauss, formerly from the collections and exhibition department.

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“Each Spring we do Art in Bloom, where floral designers create arrangements based on pieces in the museum,” said Strauss. “In 2021 one floral designer thought that it would be a smart idea to have hundreds of live bees as a part of their floral display. Two hours after we opened, we got a call that the bees had escaped. Our boss, the manager for visitor experience and safety, regretted to inform us that she was deathly allergic to bees and unable to do much of anything, while my colleagues went to catch the bees. I stayed outside to keep more people from going in. The design was immediately pulled. The floral designer and her helpers felt so bad about what happened that they came back with honey lollipops and passed them out at the front desk. Great, except visitors are not supposed to have food or drinks in the museum and now every visitor was walking through the museum dripping honey all over the place. One family thought it would be appropriate to drip honey on one of the sculptures. That day will go on to live in Columbus Museum of Art infamy.”

In 2021, one <em>Art in Bloom</em> floral display at the Columbus Museum of Art generated the wrong kind of buzz.
In 2021, one Art in Bloom floral display at the Columbus Museum of Art generated the wrong kind of buzz.

Art Institute of Chicago

Chicago, Illinois

A painting made such an impression on a young comedian—Bill Murray—that it changed his mind regarding taking his own life. One of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States, Art Institute highlights include Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, and America’s Mona Lisa: Grant Wood’s American Gothic, a painting that has been parodied and repurposed more than any other American piece of work since it came in third place at the 1930 Art Institute of Chicago Annual and acquired for its collection.

“I remember my first experience on the stage. I was so bad I just walked out, out on the street and started walking for a couple of hours and I realized I had walked in the wrong direction. Not just the wrong direction in terms of where I lived but the wrong direction in terms of the desire to stay alive, and I ended up in front of the Art Institute. I walked in and there is a painting, I think it’s called The Song of the Lark. It’s a woman working in a field and there is a sunrise behind her. I saw it that day and I just thought, ‘Well, look, there’s a girl who doesn’t have a whole lot of prospects but, the sun’s coming up anyway, and she’s got another chance.’ So I think that gave me some sort of feeling that I too, am a person, and I get another chance every day the sun comes up,” said Murray.

Author rendering of <em>The Song of the Lark</em>, painted by Jules Breton in 1884.
Author rendering of The Song of the Lark, painted by Jules Breton in 1884.

The Mob Museum

Las Vegas, Nevada

You want a total museum experience? And to show the whole family what a speakeasy is? Inside a museum packed with graphic violence? Head over to the thoroughly riveting Mob Museum, a former 1933 post office and federal courtroom that was bought for $1 with the condition it be used for something cultural…like a museum. Ten years and $42 million dollars later, leading museum designer Dennis Barrie (also involved with the International Spy Museum and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) created an immersive, engaging mob museum, which serenades visitors to Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York” upon arriving.

Officially the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, this bilingual museum tells a bold and surprisingly compelling visual story of the war between the mob and the Feds. And it’s haunted. On the first part of the tour, there is a mock police lineup for tourists to take pictures, but this is the spot where more than one museum employee has seen a ghost. After touring all three floors, which contain horrific depictions of violence, you and yours will welcome a drink in the museum’s fully operational, and legal, speakeasy.

In Las Vegas, the Mob Museum is located in a former post office and courthouse.
In Las Vegas, the Mob Museum is located in a former post office and courthouse.

Mütter Museum

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Mütter Museum of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia started as a donation from surgeon Thomas Dent Mütter (1811–1859), who wanted to improve medical education. It displays anatomical specimens, models, and medical instruments to understand the mysteries and beauty of the human body. It’s now the United States’s largest museum of medical history.

The Mütter Museum is also where a very special relationship blossomed in the afterlife. From the moment Carol Orzel met Harry Eastlack at the Mütter in 1995, she was enchanted. Harry had been dead for 22 years, his skeleton on display since 1979. At that 1995 event, Orzel turned to her doctor and said, “When my time comes, I would like to hang next to Harry…only if my jewelry can be displayed, too.”

Philadelphia's Mütter Museum is the country's largest medical history collection.
Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum is the country’s largest medical history collection.

“Carol Orzel was a disability rights advocate with fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva, one of the rarest diseases in the world,” said Erin Scheckenbach, director of development for the museum. Eastlack also had the disease. “In 2018 our staff gathered to greet her, in appreciation for Carol donating her body. Her skeleton is on display with her collection of tiaras, earrings, and brooches.”

Chapultepec Castle

Mexico City, Mexico

The beautiful Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City, Mexico, which houses a fantastic collection of historic art, jewelry, murals, sculptures, and maritime hardware, is the site of two fascinating, timeless stories: Escutia’s Leap and Romeo and Juliet, one arguably real, one arguably fiction. The museum’s highlight is the unparalleled views of the city from the castle. Explorer James F. Elton wrote the views “can’t be surpassed in beauty in any part of the world.”

Mexico City's Chapultepec Castle is home to fantastic views, a museum, and an epic tale of patriotism.
Mexico City’s Chapultepec Castle is home to fantastic views, a museum, and an epic tale of patriotism.

On September 13, 1847, the Niños Héroes (“Boy Heroes”) died defending the castle while it was taken by American forces at the Battle of Chapultepec, during the Mexican-American War. Legend has it that the last of the six, Juan Escutia, leapt from Chapultepec Castle wrapped in the Mexican flag to prevent the flag from being taken by the enemy. In 1967 Gabriel Flores painted a large mural in the museum depicting Escutia’s leap.

The movie William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, was filmed there in 1996. In 1954 the war film Vera Cruz, starring Gary Cooper and Burt Lancaster, used Chapultepec in the movie.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York, New York

Renowned New Yorker cartoonist Mick Stevens turned the tables on the largest art museum in the Western Hemisphere by sneaking in, and putting on display, a piece of his own work instead of stealing one.

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art has thousands of priceless objects—and, for a very brief period of time, a prankster's painting.
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art has thousands of priceless objects—and, for a very brief period of time, a prankster’s painting.

“My cartoons were not selling when I took painting classes at the Art Students League with a friend who lived upstairs. He had a part-time job at the Met as a guard,” said Stevens. “We spent nights smoking pot, drinking, and fantasizing about having our work hang on the Met’s walls. Since that seemed extremely unlikely, we hatched an alternative plan. I began work on an intentionally absurd painting, featuring a Christ-like figure, standing naked with its arms extended holding in each hand a bowling-ball-size globe, one garish green and the other equally garish red, inspired by the starboard and port lights on ships.

“Our art class planned, as it happened, an evening tour of the museum. My friend earlier placed an adhesive picture hook between two old masterpieces. That night our class assembled in the lobby of the museum. I had the painting in a large drawing pad under my arm. Passing the area we’d picked, when no one was watching, we carefully hung the painting, then rejoined the group. Nothing happened for a while, but we then began to notice commotion in one of the galleries. Several blue-blazered museum employees took off in the direction of the new acquisition.’ Doors slammed. Alarm bells rang. And everyone was ushered out of the building.

“We have no idea what happened to our masterpiece. Did the painting end up in a landfill somewhere, or has it been languishing in the museum storeroom for the last 50 years?”

At the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, artist Michael Oatman "crashed" a "spaceship"—and left behind a code no one has cracked in solar panels.
At the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, artist Michael Oatman “crashed” a “spaceship”—and left behind a code no one has cracked in solar panels.


North Adams, Massachusetts

It’s not enough that a spaceship crashed to Earth and happened to land on the Mass MoCA (or at least that was how artist Michael Oatman explained his installation). One of the largest centers for contemporary visual art and performing arts in the United States is also home to an unsolved mystery—one also created by Oatman.

Patterns in the solar panels installed by the artist at the museum have a secret code.

“Nobody here has any idea what the message is,” said Jenny Wright, the museum’s director of strategic communications and advancement.

The author's rendering of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s untitled 2000 self-portrait sculpture.
The author’s rendering of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s untitled 2000 self-portrait sculpture.

Whitney Museum

New York, New York

Most artists will try everything to get their work seen. Especially at The Whitney Museum of American Art, which is famous for its Whitney Biennial exhibition that showcases up-and-coming artists. But one artist takes another tact by making it a habit of hiding his work inside the museum’s walls. After destroying it.

“Back in 2015, before the new Whitney opened downtown, parts of Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan’s sculpture [a life-size sculpture of himself seated at a table with his face planted in a plate of spaghetti] were [again] intentionally sealed behind a wall, on the eighth floor of the new building. The sculpture was fabricated in 2000 and intentionally destroyed, by steamroller, four years later for the Whitney Biennial, its boxed-up remains interred in the museum’s old building uptown with only the curator Chrissie Iles, Cattelan, and a few art handlers having witnessed it being buried [the first time around],” said Emma Allen, cartoon editor for New Yorker magazine.

The author's rendering of Vincent Van Gogh's hidden masterpiece, <em>Ravine</em>.
The author’s rendering of Vincent Van Gogh’s hidden masterpiece, Ravine.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Boston, Massachusetts

The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, has become one of the most comprehensive art museums in North America. Highlights include John Singleton Copley’s Watson and the Shark (1778) and The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit (1882) by John Singer Sargent.

In 2007, X-rays revealed a secret painting underneath another. “Vincent van Gogh’s painting Ravine came to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as a gift in 1952. Fifty-five years later, the Van Goghs owned by the MFA were examined by conservators by X-ray technology,” said Maureen Melton, the museum’s historian. They were shocked to find that Ravine was atop of another fully realized painting, Wild Vegetation, a work Van Gogh had sketched in 1889. Family correspondence during that time revealed Van Gogh’s brother Theo was late in sending art supplies when the artist was deeply inspired to create a new painting, so Vincent sacrificed one work for another, visible only through X-ray.”

In Los Angeles, the Museum of Jurassic Technology is designed to defy expectations.
In Los Angeles, the Museum of Jurassic Technology is designed to defy expectations.

Museum of Jurassic Technology

Los Angeles, California

No museum is more committed to defying categorization, with every visitor defining for themselves what they are experiencing. The New York Times critic Edward Rothstein described it as a “museum about museums.” It’s possible that nothing in the thoroughly entertaining Museum of Jurassic Technology is real—it is truly one of the most compelling museums I frequented.

A visitor who wished to remain anonymous warned: “Don’t go here high. Looking at and experiencing exhibits with names like No One May Ever Have the Same Knowledge AgainRotten Luck: The Decaying Dice of Ricky Jay, and Tell the Bees, can be enough to legitimately lose your mind. The latter exhibit depicts folk remedies from world cultures. One rather intriguing example is a remedy for bed-wetting: eating dead mice on toast.”