Data Flows for Life Insurance – Mental Illness Disability Data


As part of the ACFS Commissioned Paper Series, 2016, the Centre released a new report on the availability of publically accessible data in the insurance sector. Data Flows for Life Insurance – Mental Illness Disability Data focuses on the collection, use, disclosure and dissemination of mental illness disability (MID) data, in relation to life insurance.

Considering the scarcity of publically available data in the insurance sector, the paper provides an overview of the primary data sources currently available for research in this selected area. With reference to examples in comparable countries, data availability deficiencies are also identified. The extent to which increasing publically available data allows Australians to make more informed decisions about risk, and assists insurers to better price premiums, is resultantly examined. Along with these socially beneficial economic outcomes, issues and limitations associated with enabling the provision of private, commercially valuable data, are also identified.

In conjunction with this ‘map’ for data in the context of its function in the life cycle of a life insurance policy, the report proposes a plan for further work, with direct reference to the public and private agencies responsible for the collection and use of equivalent data sources. Within this plan, several recommendations are made to improve the quality and accessibility of MID data, including:

  • Widening APRA’s National Claims and Policies Database (NCPD) to include MID data;
  • Commissioning an independent study and reporting publicly on currently available MID data;
  • Considering inputs from life insurance industry expertise and independent experts for the data checking and validation processes of the currently available MID data;
  • Using & disseminating a resultant ‘National MID database’ on the widest public access basis;
  • Considering this plan as a working model for the development of other insurance-related data flows.
About the Author

Ian Enright is a lawyer, academic, author and company director. His roles have included: law firm partner, insurance executive and consultant. Ian has 35 years of insurance and law experience. His credentials include a PhD at the University of Exeter, and his appointment as Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Technology, Sydney, for which along with University of New South Wales, he designed, developed and led the teaching for the insurance course in the Master of Laws Degree.

His publications include the Anglo-Australian text Professional Indemnity Insurance Law, the second edition of which was awarded the 2008 British Insurance Law Association Book Prize as “the most notable contribution to literature in the field of law as it affects insurance”. He is the co-author, along with Robert Merkin of Sutton on Insurance Law (4th edition, 2014).

Ian has also featured as an occasional lecturer in commercial law subjects, with papers presented, for Geneva Association, Warsaw University, London School of Economics, Cambridge University, University of Sydney and Monash University. He is a Panel Member of the Financial Ombudsman Service and a Life Member of the Financial Services Accountants Association.

Additional to his highly valued contribution as a member of the Australian Centre for Financial Studies’ Insurance Research Program Committee, Ian is deeply involved in Australia’s Insurance industry. He was formerly the International and Australian Counsel, Reinsurance Group of America. In May 2012, he was appointed by the Insurance Council of Australia to conduct the Independent Review of the General Insurance Code of Practice. More recently, he has featured as a regular speaker for AILA, including Geoff Masel Lecturer in 2015: “The Insurance Social Contract: 1788 and all that”. In recognition of this contribution to Insurance, specifically Insurance Law and Insurance Law Education, 2015 also saw Ian awarded the AILA Insurance Law Prize.

Download Commissioned Paper: Data Flows for Life Insurance: Mental Illness Disability Data