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Data Ethics Is Paying Off for French Insurance Company

News. The French insurance company MAIF is probably one of the first companies in the world, who can claim that it pays to treat other people’s data ethically responsible.

Where is the money? For years impatient data ethics skeptics have demanded documentation that data ethics is paying off. But as with the environmental movement things take time. Yet, in France, a teachers’ owned insurance company, has begun harvesting the fruits of yearlong work with data ethics.

Chloé Beaumont at MAIF’s Paris office in March 2018

“We got over 500 new customers for our partly-owned cloud service during a 6 months period via our concept store, MAIF Social Club, where we explained people how their personal data are at risk,” says Chloé Beaumont, hub manager and responsible for MAIF’s ‘Mes Infos project’ where the company empowers them with their own data.

“Individuals are the only legetimate persons to leverage their own data,” she says.

MAIF has 3.5 million customers and a very low rate of customer turnover. The company is deeply committed to acting responsibly and in favor of their owners – that is customers, the teachers.

“Trust and transparency are core values for us. We do everything in our power to deserve the faith many have in us,” says Chloé Beaumont.

Competitive Advantage
The company refuses to do what many big tech do; collect, use, analyse and predict with personal identifiable data for the main sake of the company’s turnover and shareholders. MAIF aims at doing the opposite believing in a distributed model in stead of a central data-driven model. And with a huge change in the insurance landscape, where fintech-startups are emerging and Amazon is getting into the business (18% of French customers would buy an insurance via Amazon, according to a survey), MAIF has decided to make a difference by ‘bringing data back to customers’.

It has invested in Snips, a AI-company producing a privacy-by-design voice assistant. And in Cozy, a secure cloud service acting as a PIMS – a Personal Information Management System or ‘personal data store’ where users and only users have access to and control over their data and can chose to activate them. MAIF customers – and everybody else – can chose to store their data in Cozy, who has no access to their data, or they can chose to do it locally.

“We can imagine so many new services within the idea of PIMs, where data to us is anonymous and only the user has access. For instance, if you buy a ski trip, the system could provide you with a personalized insurance experience. Hey, you just bought a ski trip, but you are not 100% covered by your policy, would you like to upgrade it?” says Beaumont.

The MAIF SOCIAL CLUB is a space located in the heart of the marsh, in Paris. Open to all, it is an exhibition space, committed to societal innovation and configured to explore new paths of knowledge. It is also a place for experimentation that allows MAIF’s innovative projects to be showcased, beyond commercial dimensions.

According to Chloé Beaumont the customers of MAIF are very satisfied with the data ethics profile which MAIF explains in detail in their data ethics guidelines. Here they promise openess, security, the right to be forgotten, data storage in Europe, transparency and data protecting. And not to forget the focus on humanity:

“We guarantee that the technologies and algorithms we use are under the control of humans.”

You can meet Chloé Beaumont at MyData 2018 in Helsinki end of August