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Considerations of the future social implications of decentralized technology frequently present newly differentiated images of somehow superior methodologies that may be radically different from the present. However, decentralized recording of centrally controlled operations may be a significant detriment to both the technology’s potential and developmental promise. Without a corresponding preceding structural change, the introduction of decentralized technologies into established industries seeking to bolster rather than improve service offerings should cause us all great concern.
A case of one of the first life insurance claims is frequently repeated in a factually based, well-known business school anecdote. Shortly after this type of policy became available, a life insurance policyholder died while his high-payout protection was still in effect. When the deceased’s family attempted to file a claim, the insurer wrote a new definition of ‘one year’ in order to [successfully] avoid settlement.
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It would depend on whether it was relayed in a strategy or ethics lecture whether it was referred to as commendable industrial ingenuity or defenseless profiteering. With this story in mind, let us now look at the implementation of blockchain technologies in the insurance industry:
“ORLANDO, Fla. – A presenter told attendees at the National Council for Compensation Insurance Inc.’s Annual Issues Symposium on Friday that blockchain technology has a future in workers compensation transactions because it has the potential to improve communication and efficiency across the industry. Blockchain is a decentralized, peer-to-peer network that allows insurers and stakeholders to “produce, store, manage, and share data as a secure record of transactions,” according to Paul Meeusen, head of distributed ledger technology at Swiss Re and CEO of B3i.
According to Mr. Meeusen, blockchain consists of a distributed ledger, consensus that provides a “single version” of information, cryptography for secure and authentic transactions, and smart contracts that execute automatically under predefined conditions. According to him, the traditional insurance system has an inefficient flow of information from policyholder to insurer to reinsurer to capital market. Mr. Meeusen described how technology works to increase efficiencies rather than collecting and analyzing data in separate systems.
“We collaborate, but we maintain control over our data,” he explained.
For workers’ compensation, blockchain can provide opportunities for stakeholders to share personal and medical information while also providing a secure location to store and access data. According to him, the technology would also allow for the verification of comp coverage across the blockchain platform. According to him, blockchain also enables real-time messaging and the confidential sharing of information across industries. Mr. Meeusen stated, “There is definitely an efficiency component here.” ” May 19th 2018
The blockchain may, in fact, provide a transparent, decentralized, and immutable record of digital data entries. There are numerous possible extensions that make use of automatically executable or complexly triggered’smart contract’ events. This is without a doubt. However, the quality of the content is often overlooked or simply subsumed in the excitement of the technology.
Replacing existing methodologies with new methods may mean passing up opportunities for improvement. In other words, whether an insurance policy is held centrally by the issuing company or recorded using decentralized technologies has no bearing on its practical application. The terms were developed and are enforced by the same issuing company.
Many insurance policies contain caveats, clauses, loopholes, and conditions that make payouts to policyholders impossible. It is sufficient to say that for many, they are an unmistakable part of the insurance process. To now immutably digitize the insurance company’s terms and conditions, which may not be fully understood by individual policyholders, benefits only the issuing company.
As opposed to a personable exchange, clarification, or justification, the holder’s digitally immutable and time-stamped agreement with such a document is forever locked. While the transparency of the documents themselves may be established, understanding and adherence to the policy remains largely one-sided. The use of immutable records is only advantageous if sufficient knowledge of their meaning or implications exists. Whether on or off the blockchain, a convoluted and one-sided policy remains just that.
The presence and survival of hugely profitable insurance conglomerates should indicate the business structure. Finally, the company’s calculations and metrics, like those of a casino, are superior to our understanding of probability.
When measured over a sufficient time scale, a player’s chance of profit or enjoyment in the risk of participation outweighs what is essentially a guaranteed loss at the blackjack table. The house is always victorious. This is why there is the [ornately decorated and furnished] house. Aside from investment strategies and a variety of financial activities, insurance coverage exists at its core because the house is betting that we, the policyholders, are wrong.
Paying out more than you receive is unsustainable for any business. As a result, the range of insurance options has been and continues to be available because purchasing these over a long enough time period earns the issuing company more than it costs them when paying out.
This is not to dismiss a plethora of potential benefits, safeguards, and security provided by insurance offerings. In the case of automobile accidents, for example, deferring to experienced centralized behemoths for resolution may simply be prudent and well worth such costs, especially given the alternative’s potential time requirements. Simply put, the house [an insurance company] exists because it is profitable across all insurance offerings.
Before getting too excited about blockchain technologies as a panacea for development and the future of industry, perhaps we should all take a step back and question whether we truly understand the policies themselves.
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