Juan Camilo Palacio is a risk director for Colombia-based insurer Seguros SURA. The company is sponsoring his Master of Actuarial Science degree from the Robinson College of Business. Upon graduation, Palacio looks forward to returning to Colombia and joining Seguros SURA’s life insurance and workers compensation team, which prices new products, adjusts the cost of current offerings, and assures the adequacy of the company’s financial reserves.
“When I move back, my boss will expect me to not only exercise judgment over detailed analyses but also provide quick approximations,” Palacio said. “So far I’ve developed a profound understanding of math, finance and probability concepts that enable insurance companies to manage risk.”
As part of Alireza Aghasi’s Machine Learning for Analytics course, Palacio and three peers used R to predict the duration of Uber rides in New York City. Competing against 22 teams comprising students from all of Aghasi’s classes, Palacio’s group placed second, forecasting the trips’ length within four minutes of error.
“Our performance was quite good considering all the variables at play like distance and rush hour,” Palacio said.
Stefanos Orfanos’ Insurance Ratemaking course exposed Palacio to the challenges of a real-life actuary. For the final project, he proposed the rate a hypothetical company should set for new life insurance customers.
“The assignment perfectly wrapped up the core techniques we learned, including loss development factors, loss trending and reinsurance,” Palacio said.
Palacio can’t wait to shape the future of the insurance industry—for example, building policies with adjustable rates based on customers’ positive habits like regular exercise, not just negative ones like tobacco use. He also aims to contribute to much-needed pension reform in his home country.
“I’m excited to participate in conversations addressing the issues in Colombia’s pension system and to contribute to the solution,” he said.