Introducing RPV Near Me – Election Law Blog

The following is a guest post by Ruth Greenwood, the director of the Election Law Clinic at Harvard Law School:

The Election Law Clinic at Harvard Law School (“ELC”) now offers free access to summary measures of racially polarized voting (“RPV”) for every county in the country. The analysis was conducted by Christopher T. Kenny, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Government at Harvard University. All the results are available to view and download.

This project is the latest step in my efforts to promote more and better representation for communities of color in local government. A key policy in this area has been the enactment of state VRAs (SVRAs) across the country. California was first out of the pack in 2002, and in recent years Washington, Oregon, Virginia, and New York have all built on the CVRA in developing their own statutes (with ever more expansive and creative ways for local governments to enfranchise and represent communities of color). As the 2023 legislative sessions begin, I hope and expect to see even more states adopt SVRAs.

I hope RPV Near Me will be a resource for voters, community groups, activists, lawyers, and journalists in states with SVRAs to identify jurisdictions where the electoral system could be improved. I also hope RPV Near Me will be a resource in states considering adopting an SVRA—it should help with the identification of communities that might be better represented through new electoral systems.

The site includes visualizations of the RPV results for a number of recent elections in every county in the U.S. This information can give us a sense of the voting patterns of members of different racial and ethnic communities around the country. The site is not intended to be used in litigation (as

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What’s ahead for life insurance underwriting?

If you’ve tried to purchase life insurance and been turned off by the lengthy analog process, I don’t blame you. Removing barriers to coverage is why we’ve worked so hard to bring this essential product into the 21st century with an all-digital platform. 

One of the most exhilarating parts of that innovation journey has been underwriting. Underwriting depends on data, and data—how we source it, how we analyze it, and how we use it—is evolving at an exponential pace. With things moving so fast it’s important to pause to acknowledge how far the industry has come, and ponder where it might be going. 

The initial phase
Underwriting—the concept of which goes back many centuries—began to slowly evolve in the 20th century, with additional health and risk classes added beyond the initial one of age. The smoker/non-smoker designation that appeared in the ’70s, along with advancements in blood drawing in the ’80s, provided a more accurate risk assessment. But the administration of underwriting still included in-person appointments and hand-written paperwork, with a hefty price tag for labor costs and lab testing. 

In short, it was viewed by many as an unbeloved process and the act of applying was seen by these folks as a lengthy and laborious chore. Despite consumers’ perspective on the underwriting process,  it stayed relatively unchanged during the 20th century, perhaps because there was no real incentive to change it.   

A digital awakening
One of the hallmarks of the 21st century is getting anything you want instantly and online, whether that be banking or getting approved for a loan. Life insurance is now also available instantly and online. 

But not all digital underwriting is equal. The launch of “simplified issue” products enabled a more desirable front-end experience, but those have come at a cost for the consumer—quite

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Applied Underwriters launches life insurance company

Applied Underwriters chairman Steve Menzies said that the life insurance market has remained largely unchanged for decades, but is now rapidly evolving into an online-centric model.

“There is a massive amount of momentum in the life insurance industry towards underwriting through the analysis of big data,” Menzies said. “This is an effort to cut costs and enable rapid, online underwriting and sales. But we believe there are some difficult tradeoffs coming for our competitors – namely, underwriting costs will almost certainly rise, and customer trust and satisfaction will almost certainly suffer.”

Read next: Applied Underwriters partners with sporting icons

Menzies said that while the new methods might be convenient, people were becoming increasing uncomfortable with intrusions into their personal data.

“Especially when they are personally the subject of the decision being made, they don’t trust big-data presumptions that work in ways no one really understands,” he said. “At Album, we’ll utilize traditional life underwriting methods, but significantly enhanced by the application of ongoing scientific discoveries. Health Outlook will handle developing the biotechnology applications; Applied will handle developing the related statistical research and data analytics. The resultant products will be innovative and have the potential to be very beneficial to our policyholders.”

“We at Health Outlook have lofty aspirations for ourselves with a vision for Album Life Assurance,” said Howard Sams, CEO of Health Outlook. “If we were better able to predict disease and mortality, then there could be more opportunities for early intervention than are available today, and life expectancy and human quality of life could be meaningfully enhanced.”

The album Life Assurance will be headquartered in New York. It expects to begin accepting applications for insurance in the third quarter of 2023.

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Accelerated Underwriting and COVID-19: Life Insurance Lessons Learned

2: Accelerated underwriting requires an infrastructure that brings together data from disparate sources in an understandable way.

If the collection process is not set up appropriately, underwriters may face a deluge of information, making it difficult to identify relevant data.

Accelerated underwriting, which is designed to evolve, offers a framework for quickening the process of assessing mortality risk for writing policies by adjusting underwriting rules and models.

By setting up a data flow and system that pulls in the information from multiple sources and synthesizes it for underwriter review, alternative data is becoming much more valuable to the underwriting process.

3: Accelerated underwriting should be used only where it makes sense.

Determining the relevance of alternative data could depend on the applicant, life insurance product, insurer’s underwriting appetite and other factors.

The value of an alternative data source varies case by case.

For example, one applicant’s lab records may include a full blood panel, while another person’s may provide only a flu test.

4: Creating guidelines for risk assessment and pricing is necessary to move forward strategically.

Alternative underwriting programs are unique to each insurer, but enough commonalities exist to apply valuable evaluation tools for multiple applications.

Setting up a more rigorous framework for permanent change starts with observing in-market results to identify programs and program features worth maintaining.

Determining which alternative tools are the most protective and most usable while best serving the market can provide the basis for creating guidelines for risk assessment and pricing.

5: No matter how much underwriting is automated and fine-tuned with additional data and models, underwriters remain critically important.

Live human underwriters can evaluate information and see the big picture for more complex risks like no machine can.

In conclusion, there is nothing like a real-world test to realize an industry’s strengths

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