50 Years of Moving the World Forward

Our Journey of Growth and Innovation

Over five decades, we’ve evolved from a nonprofit advisory rating organization for U.S. insurers to a global leader in data, analytics, and ethical corporate practices.

Along the way, we’ve entered new markets and countries, positioned ourselves for future growth, and led the way in groundbreaking uses of technology to keep our customers—and the world—moving forward.

1971–1996

Moving mountains of data forward for insurers

The Insurance Services Office (ISO) was formed in 1971 to provide a “one-stop shop” for statistical information to member insurers. By the end of its 25th year, ISO was recognized as a leader in using data to help the U.S. insurance industry make smarter decisions and discover new ways to think about risk.

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The not-for-profit Insurance Services Office (ISO) was founded on April 1 under the leadership of Daniel J. McNamara, who remained president of the company until his retirement in 1987. ISO consolidated the operations of many existing rating bureaus into a single information provider, offering insurers greater economies of scale. ISO became known for its ability to manage, structure, apply, and improve upon massive amounts of data.

One major goal for the new company: creating a single countrywide fire rating schedule for assessing commercial risks and determining rates. That schedule, introduced in 1975, would become the Public Protection Classification® Program, now used by more than 40,000 communities across the United States to evaluate public fire-protection services.

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ISO introduced personal auto and homeowners policies featuring less technical, easier-to-read language, spearheading a movement in the insurance industry toward increased standardization and customer focus.

From the New York Times:

Last year the Insurance Services Office, a trade association, produced a homeowners’ policy of fewer than 7,000 words compared with more than 12,000 in the earlier policy. Theretofore, as the old policy might have put in, the introductory portion had 316 words, with 256 in the first sentence. That mountain is now flattened to: “We will provide the insurance described in this policy in return for the premium and compliance with all applicable provisions of this policy.”

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ISO embraced the coming age of connectivity, giving insurers access to specific-property underwriting information online through its ISOTEL network, delivering information to member insurers through dedicated ISOTEL terminals, host-to-host links with general terminals, dial-up facilities, or commercial networks.

ISOTEL Vice President Joe Jensen, shown above with ISOTEL team members, said at the time, “To an insurer, ISOTEL means never having to tell a potential customer, ‘I’ll get back to you with the information you requested in a couple of days.’”

The first non-insurer joined ISO’s board of directors, Christopher Demuth, president of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. By 1995, non-insurers held seven of 11 board seats, making the company organizationally and operationally independent of its member insurers. The move also reinforced the objectivity and propriety of ISO’s data and analyses and set the stage for future expansion.

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ISO’s board of directors approved the company’s conversion from a nonprofit membership corporation to a for-profit, stock corporation led by CEO Fred Marcon, shown here. The change was motivated by the continuing, rapid advancement of technology; the financial flexibility of a for-profit corporation would enable ISO to invest in technological improvements to keep the company in its established position as an insurance information leader.

1997–2001

Moving forward with data-driven decisions

The term “early adopter” entered the mainstream in the late 1990s, referring to forward-thinking individuals or groups who quickly recognized the value of new technology and began using it soon after its introduction.

ISO wasn’t just an early adopter of new technology, but a driver of new technological applications, bringing insurance data into the 21st century before that century even started.

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ISO began building the industry’s largest claims information database to fight fraud, which was costing insurance companies $20 billion a year at the time, by combining the claims information data assets of American Insurance Services Group (AISG) with ISO’s existing comprehensive databases of premium and loss information.

In 1998, the data pool was further increased by the addition of the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB)’s claims-related data. The resulting database was named ClaimSearch, which launched later that year and grew from 140 million to half a billion claims in its first ten years. Today, ISO ClaimSearch® has 1.5 billion claims.

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Recognizing that the value of data is significantly affected by its accessibility, ISO made ClaimSearch available on the web—a first for an insurance industry claims tool. The new service allowed insurance professionals to search the all-claims database using sophisticated query combinations from any networked computer, delivering insights to help with pricing and fraud detection in a matter of seconds.

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ISO developed and launched LOCATION®, a database containing virtually every residential and commercial property in the United States, to help insurers evaluate community fire-suppression capabilities. Using the latest geographic information system (GIS) technology, this first-ever address-specific database moved the needle forward for more informed rating and underwriting decisions.

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ISO moved its headquarters to the Newport World Business Center in Jersey City, New Jersey. For the first time in its 30-year history, ISO united more than 1,400 employees from three locations (Manhattan; Pearl River, New York; and Rahway, New Jersey) in the new ISO building, located at 545 Washington Boulevard. Verisk headquarters are there to this day.

2002–2009

Moving forward to conquer new risks and new markets

As we moved into 2002, our 2001 creation of Intego Solutions, Inc. was about to pay significant dividends. Intego—led by Scott Stephenson, who joined the company as Intego’s chief executive officer—was developed to acquire companies whose services and capabilities aligned with ISO.

By the end of the decade, ISO would become Verisk, Scott would become Verisk’s chief operating officer, and Verisk would go from a major company in the U.S. insurance industry to a global leader in data and analytics.

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ISO acquired Applied Insurance Research (AIR), a pioneer in risk-assessment and risk-management technology. Founded in 1987, AIR released the first-ever commercial catastrophe hurricane model in 1989 and the first typhoon and earthquake models for Japan in 1998.

AIR has continued revolutionizing the field, delivering extreme event models covering perils in more than 110 countries worldwide today. As part of the Verisk family, AIR’s risk modeling releases have included:

  • The first commercially available terrorism loss estimation model
  • Location-specific natural catastrophe hazard tools
  • Weather data products for the energy industry
  • Real-time information and loss estimates for major catastrophes

ISO acquired Xactware, the leading provider of estimation software and services for the property insurance and restoration industries. The company was founded in 1986 with Xactimate, its flagship estimating system, which helped contractors and insurance adjusters estimate repairs much faster and more accurately than they ever could before.

Xactware now features software solutions for every phase of a building’s life, from remodeling to totally replacing a building, from determining the cost of rebuilding a structure to preserving and repairing a home.

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Recognizing the unprecedented impact climate change would have on economic growth and stability, ISO acquired Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc. (AER), a premier environmental and scientific research and predictive modeling company.

AER had already spent three decades creating and refining advanced computer models, analysis tools, and databases to understand and predict changes in the atmosphere, oceans, and climate. ISO would combine AER’s scientific expertise with AIR’s industry-leading risk models to give an even fuller picture of the risks posed by climate change. 

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Under the leadership of Verisk Analytics Chairman, President, and CEO Frank Coyne (in photo center), we debuted on the Nasdaq Global Select Market as Verisk (VRSK) on October 7 in the largest domestic IPO of the year. The $1.9 billion raised made it the largest IPO by a U.S. company since Visa’s IPO in early 2008, more than 18 months earlier.   

About 30% of ISO’s owners sold their shares during the IPO, but one major institutional shareholder stayed: Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffet retained all his shares, demonstrating support and strengthening the credibility of the offering.  

2010–2014

Moving predictive analytics forward

The strength of Verisk’s 2009 IPO affirmed our success in innovation, excellent service, and our core belief in adding value to every customer interaction.

The next five years would see Verisk develop into a leading global citizen as we focused on innovative predictive analytics and transforming our data into actionable insights for our customers.

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We continued to invest in the safety and sustainability of global business by acquiring 3E Company (now Verisk 3E), a premier provider of services to help companies comply with government-mandated environmental health and safety requirements.

Verisk 3E's solutions combine regulatory expertise and enriched global compliance content and transform it into actionable intelligence to enhance chemical and workplace safety, product safety and stewardship, supply chain stewardship, and research and development support. A variety of industries from retail to chemical manufacturers look to Verisk 3E to help them reduce risk, drive continuous improvement, and create new growth opportunities.

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To further Verisk’s position as a provider of data, analytics, and decision-support solutions to financial institutions, we acquired Argus Information & Advisory Services. Founded in 1997, Argus pioneered the concept of banks sharing data with permission to understand marketplace performance and introduced customer wallet views across banks, enabling the first customer-centric, anonymized view of industry data for retail banking and payments.

Following the acquisition, Argus linked anonymized customer views to media signals at a customer and household level, and then in 2015, introduced the industry’s first fraud/abuse score, allowing banks to reduce loan losses by an average of 15% - 20%.  

Before there was AI for business, there was predictive analytics, the practice of analyzing historical and current data to find patterns that can inform predictions of future or unknown events. And Verisk has been a leader in using predictive analytics to help our customers run their businesses. Here are just a few of our offerings that year:

  • AIR launched the Touchstone® catastrophe risk modeling platform, which would become the premier solution to help insurers, communities, and government prepare for and mitigate extreme event losses.
  • ISO introduced GeoMetric, a telematics-based risk rule to help insurers attract and retain better drivers, furthering the evolution of usage-based auto insurance.
  • We launched ISO MedSentry®, a predictive analytics solution to detect medical provider fraud.

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We formalized our Corporate Social Responsibility Program, introducing an annual Corporate Social Responsibility Report and a new leadership position, the Senior Vice President for Corporate Social Responsibility, who would report directly to Verisk’s CEO. Our CSR mission to this day is to:

  • Further our commitment to environmental responsibility
  • Support a diverse workforce and a vibrant workplace culture
  • Strengthen policies and activities promoting sound and accountable governance
  • Contribute professional expertise and financial support to organizations and communities around the world

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Our acquisition of Maplecroft, founded in 2001 and now known as Verisk Maplecroft, expanded our risk management capabilities to include geopolitical, societal, human rights, and environmental risks that affect business in all countries of the world.

Verisk Maplecroft’s Global Risks Portfolio had already won multiple awards and grew to include more than 150 risk indices covering 198 countries, yielding insights critical to doing business in the modern world.

In 2020, Verisk Maplecroft would release the world’s first Subnational Human Rights Risk Indices, providing multinational organizations and financial institutions with the most accurate picture of human rights risks in the world today.

2015–2020

Moving strategic decision-making forward with next-generation AI

In 2014, only 16% of enterprise organizations had begun implementing big data projects and programs. By the end of 2020, leaders like Verisk were advancing innovative solutions that applied emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to massive data sets.

Our next-generation solutions fight fraud, automate claims and underwriting, and transform the industries in which we operate. 

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We introduced the first-of-its-kind Verisk Telematics Data Exchange (now the Verisk Data Exchange™), the industry’s leading IoT (internet of things) platform for connected vehicle and property data. With driving data contributed by consenting consumers, the Exchange now has 230 billion miles of trip data from nearly 7 million vehicles.

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We acquired Wood Mackenzie, a global leader in data analytics and commercial intelligence for the energy industry. Wood Mackenzie further expanded to become a global authority for natural resources intelligence by acquiring chemicals leader PCI Group in 2015 and power and renewables leader Greentech Media in 2016, and the pioneering real-time data provider Genscape in 2019.

In 2018, Wood Mackenzie introduced Lens®, an energy analytics platform that uses AI to analyze data and yield insights that answer the most critical workflow needs of natural resources decision-makers. Today, Lens lets our customers make better-informed financial decisions, evaluate investment strategies to improve performance, and remain resilient and sustainable in this ever-changing market.

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We continued to grow the Verisk family, gaining significant new capabilities and data sets, through a series of acquisitions, most notably:

  • PowerAdvocate, a leading source of market, cost, and supply chain intelligence to the global energy sector to help companies optimize their business performance and manage their transition to renewable energy sources.
  • Several financial services companies, including G2, a firm specializing in merchant risk intelligence for acquirers, banks, and other payment system providers, and LCI, a provider of risk insight and management solutions for banks and creditors
  • Sequel, a London-based pioneer in complex commercial and specialty insurance software innovation

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We delivered the right touch of AI and human interaction to the insurance industry with the introduction of Vai, Verisk Artificial Intelligence and Automation. Vai technology enables breakthrough improvements in accuracy and customer service such as:

  • Producing a bindable quote from three questions in two minutes using machine learning
  • Applying computer vision to policyholder-submitted photos to identify materials and objects, take measurements, and more
  • Combining advanced imaging technologies with neural networks to accurately identify a vehicle’s damage level at the time of an accident, reducing fraud

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Verisk kept breaking new ground in applying advanced data and analytics solutions to real-world problems:

  • We further expanded our services for life insurance with the acquisition of FAST and its flexible policy administration system that lets life insurers quickly enhance or replace their legacy systems.
  • We gained deep insight into consumer spending behavior around the globe by acquiring Commerce Signals, an innovative data-sharing platform that connects advertisers and publishers with near-real-time financial insight.
  • We entered the real estate sales market with EstimateON, a mobile app that lets real estate professionals calculate repair and remodeling costs in seconds.

As a responsible corporate citizen, we:

  • Diversified our Board of Directors, bringing overall representation of women to 33%
  • Joined the UN Global Compact, which encourages companies to align their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption

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Cyber risk is a top concern of Verisk customers, given cybercrime’s $2 trillion global cost to society. We introduced the Cyber Data Exchange in 2019 to help insurers provide the cyber coverages demanded by the market.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic introduced a new set of cyber risks from digital acceleration to security issues inherent in working from home. This upheaval both informed the 2020 release of our state-of-the-art cyber risk modeling platform and highlighted its need. This platform and the Cyber Data Exchange are part of our award-winning Cyber Solutions suite.

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We enhanced our suite of life insurance solutions combining data and analytics to streamline underwriting, claims, and portfolio management with new developments. Key solutions we launched included:

  • Our EHR Triage Engine, which extracts data from electronic health records to speed approval of life insurance applications to one minute or less
  • Life Insurance Navigator, a cloud-based risk modeling platform that uses machine learning to enhance individual-level risk selection and drive better financial decision-making
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2021 and beyond

Moving the world forward

As we enter the next 50 years, our purpose has never been clearer as we connect what we do to make the world better, safer, and stronger. Our continuing commitment is supported by: