Hindcasting Losses: using history to measure risk today

The best predictor of future behavior is the past. Maybe, but it's at least helpful to review the past with an eye towards improvement.

Reviewing losses can be tricky. Insurance company analysis utilizes an "exposure unit". Sometimes an exposure unit is one thousand dollars in sales, one hundred dollars in payroll, square feet of a building, one hundred dollars of value, or per person. The important idea is to compare relative risk and loss rather than absolute quantities.

Chart your losses, particularly insurable losses or claims made or paid. Now chart payroll, number of employees, sales, goods manufactured, units manufactured, or any other reasonable business data points.

Compare the trajectory of the charts. Does the pattern of losses mirror one of the other statistics? For example, does your workers compensation losses trend with payroll, sales, number of employees, or even square footage of your business?

Some claims history is explained by firing one employee, maybe a bad driver. Don't ignore the fact that a bad driver got through your screening system. Make sure that leak has been plugged before thinking the problem is resolved.

Other claims may be reduced by a larger work area. Perhaps employees were just too crowded to work safely. That would indicate resolution, but think in terms of square foot per worker as a crowding issue in the future.

When you find your unexplained losses and the closest statistical trend, let's assume claim dollars and gross sales, than forecast the business statistical trend and the claims amount.

This chart will also predict your insurance costs.

Use the same format to hindcast claims. Start now and project into the past. How much error is in this prediction? If it's close year-to-year, it should be a good indicator of the future.

Start thinking about why these two data sets mirror. Do claims rise as you push to meet demand? Do you over-staff to meet demand and some employees lose focus? Are your claims about products not being quality checked at a certain volume? Once diagnosed, any loss control issue can be resolved, and pay you dividends. Ask your loss control service for help on these issues.

Need insurance for You, Your Family or Your Business?
We can match you to a qualified, local insurance expert!
Further Reading
Can you believe that winter is here already? Time flies. Always has, always will. However, as risk managers, we think that you should slow down for a moment and ask yourself if your risk-protection program has kept pace with the changing times. J...
How does experience rating work? Okay, this discussion will get a bit technical. Price setters in the insurance business, underwriters, assess the risk associated with an account and then calculate a premium. They look at factors such as the typ...
It is interesting, that unlike most other natural disasters, earthquakes are sneaky and come absent a warning - they creep up on us and then without warning the ground begins gyrating and buildings and people are victims of violent and frightening...
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, around a third of all workers' compensation claims are filed by employees only on the job for a year or less, with 13% being filed by an employee in their first three months of employment. You can e...
Although the political slogan used to be "a chicken in every pot," a more accurate modern equivalent might be "a laptop in every home." As these devices have spread into every corner of our lives, the amount of personal information stored in them has...