Welcome to our first newsletter of the year. In Europe spring is just around the corner; it is an optimistic time of year as we "sow and fertilize" our business initiatives to enable future results. We all want our business to grow sustainably, and at RGA we hope these articles provide you with useful insights in tending your “garden.”

There has been a great deal of interest in the potential of wearable devices in wellness programs and insurance product development. To move from the speculative to the measureable, RGA sponsored a global study of 1,000 users in 2016. The results of the study are summarized in Wearable Wellness: Five Quick Takeaways from RGA’s Fitness Tracker Study by Chris Falkous, Biometric Research Actuary for RGA.

Compared to wearables, there is a much longer history of Alzheimer’s research, and ongoing studies shed new light on possible interventions in what may be, given the pace of the world’s aging population, the next global epidemic. In Alzheimer’s: An Update on an Old Disease by Lisa Duckett, Medical Director of RGA, offers the latest information on epidemiological and treatment trends that may affect actuarial modeling and product development.

Our industry is also working hard to collect and manage Big Data, recognizing both the opportunities and risks now before us. In writing Prescription for Success, Peter Banthorpe, Global Head of Research & Development, RGA U.K. describes how insurers may responsibly create a better customer experience for policyholders.

Data isn’t the only area changing rapidly; medical advances in technology and treatment are changing the claims environment both in terms of regulation and pricing. Peter Barrett, Global Head of Claims for RGA looks at the environmental factors facing the industry in Claims Management Challenges – Real or Imagined?

There are also a number of factors affecting longevity, even to the point of living to be 100. A team from RGA attended the Society of Actuaries (SOA) Living to 100 Symposium in Orlando earlier this year, and share a report from this fascinating conference in Living to 100: An Insurance Perspective.

With so much information available to us today, it may still surprise you to know there is still an often overlooked factor that can influence one’s mortality just as much as Body Mass Index, and have as positive an effect on longevity as quitting a pack-a-day cigarette habit. I’m referring to the now-documented influence of having a strong social network, as described in Friends for Life: How Social Connection Can Help Predict Mortality Risk by Neil Parkin, RGA’s Risk Actuary, Pricing in South Africa.

Finally, there is another measurement that is extremely important to me, and that is how well we are meeting your needs and helping you to grow and succeed. One way of looking at this is in RGA’s financial results, and particularly in the EMEA region. I am proud to say that RGA finished with a strong fourth quarter, as did EMEA. Thank you for continuing to put your trust in us, and I look forward to seeing you in the coming year.

Olav Cuiper

Executive Vice President, Head of EMEA
RGA International Reinsurance Company dac