14 | 2 0 1 7 A C T U A R I A L J O B S E E K E R AMERICAN ACADEM Y OF AC TUARIES
“What distinguishes PolicyGenius from our competitors is our focus on providing customers with the most
accurate quotes available during their initial shopping
process. For our life insurance customers, we do this
through in-depth field underwriting and real-time quotes
for substandard risk shoppers. Ultimately, we’re bringing
the entire decision-making and shopping process online
and taking the guesswork out of the quoting process,” said
I spoke with Frank Chang, lead actuary at Uber. He is
working on insurance policies in every country where
Uber operates, among other work. Before joining Uber,
Chang was at Google.
Because most people have a general understanding
of Uber’s model, my discussion with Chang centered
more on how actuaries can contribute in such a tech
He said that in such an environment, you have to prove
your worth. “Actuaries are very careful with data, and
that is a valuable skill.” He works at least one all-nighter
every month, and so he notes that an actuary needs to be
When he is hiring analysts, Chang looks for intellectual
curiosity. When he is hiring managers, he asks whether
they can speak to a nontechnical audience, and whether
they have the flexibility to lead a team to “bob and weave”
when they need to. He meets with his managers once a
week, one-on-one, and with his analysts every couple of
Actuarial exams are important to Chang and to Uber;
in fact, Uber expects actuarial students to pass at least
one exam a year. Exams help with the study of Schedule
P, Schedule F, reserve analysis, and many other aspects
of the job. Many of Uber’s actuarial staff members are
expected to learn and use Python extensively. (Predictive
modelers use Spark, R, Hadoop, and others.)
I spoke briefly to a public relations representative of
Verifly was started in 2016 and enables drone operators
to get insurance on -demand, even if they’re operating
illegally. I wasn’t able to get a satisfactory answer about
potential adverse selection from the company.
In any event, Global Aerospace covers whatever Verifly
writes through a mobile phone app. When you plan to fly
your drone, you just punch in the hours of operation into
the app, pay the premium with a credit card, and you’re
I spoke to Dan Karr, founder of ValChoice. For now,
ValChoice offers auto insurance. ValChoice compares
insurance companies on price, protection, and service.
One of its main industry targets are millennials; that
cohort values transparency when shopping for goods and
services. ValChoice likens its product to CarFax.
These transparencies allow users to differentiate
among options, whether they are consumers or agents
or producers. In fact, one of ValChoice’s fastest-growing
segments are agents using the website to explain products
to their customers.
The website was started when Karr had a bad claims
experience and didn’t have an outlet for his frustrations.
While he is the only employee, he has about six contractors working on the site.
When I asked him what inning in the ballgame they
were in, he said they want to win the World Series—
they’re thinking big!
I asked Kevin Kiser of Bunker, an insurance marketplace
for contractors and small businesses, a series of questions:
What has the company been up to?
“We have spent the past year and a half intimately understanding a variety of small business segments, particularly
the 1099/independent contractor segment. Over this time,
we’ve talked to and built relationships with hundreds of
extremely passionate enterprise brands, small businesses,
and independent contractors to understand both sides of
the market—those that require insurance (e.g., Enterprise
Tech Company) and those that are required to have insurance (e.g., 1099 Project Manager).
We raised venture funding in early 2016, which ignited
the technology build and alpha testing. We launched our
marketplace in private beta [late in 2016].”
What needs is BuildBunker trying to address?
“We focus on insurance when it’s required by contract.
When this occurs, it’s a manual and opaque process to
manage insurance for both sides of the market (business/
independent contractor, franchiser/franchisee, landlords/
tenants). This causes pain throughout the process. For example, up to 40 percent of the time, independent contractors don’t have the level of insurance that’s required and
the requiring business is never notified if an IC cancels a
policy after submitting the certificate.”
Where’s Bunker headed?
“It’s still early innings for us since we launched last