OREANDA-NEWS. Swiss Re and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that they are developing a range of underwriting solutions that rely on IBM Watson's cognitive computing technologies. One of the first applications will be in Swiss Re's Life & Health Reinsurance business unit.

To compete successfully and profitably, insurers must identify and act on emerging trends. In addition, insurers need the ability to spot operational issues or opportunities in real time and respond proactively. Cognitive technologies, coupled with human experience and insights, can enhance and help inform timely decision making. By applying Watson’s capabilities, the new platform could allow Swiss Re professionals to make better informed decisions and more accurately price risk.

Thomas Wellauer, Swiss Re's Group Chief Operating Officer, says: "Systems like cognitive computing can continuously read the ever growing amount of information while helping us connect the dots and making it easier to interpret that information in the right context. Swiss Re and IBM are collaborating to establish a vision for cognitive computing at Swiss Re and the wider insurance industry."

The project is yet another new industry domain for IBM’s Watson, a technology that represents a new era in computing in which systems are able to analyse and process vast amounts of unstructured data, quickly surface insights and continuously learn from their interactions with humans and data. Delivered via the cloud, Watson’s key underlying technologies are deep learning and natural language processing, the latter of which allows for humans to ask questions and interact with the system as they would a colleague.

Mike Rhodin, IBM Watson's Senior Vice President, says: "We are continuously looking for clients who can help us train Watson on new industries. Swiss Re's strong heritage of leadership in reinsurance, their global reach and breadth of data across several areas of the industry, combined with Watson's ability to learn and provide insights into vast amounts of data, make this a particularly exciting venture."

As part of the initiative Swiss Re has also set up a Center of Competence where a group of data scientists will work with IBM's cognitive computing technology to explore and deliver a wide range of use cases. Other examples of such cognitive underwriting could follow as Swiss Re and IBM work to develop a range of solutions across various sectors of the reinsurance industry that could benefit from cognitive computing.