Undergraduate Student Team Achieves Top Three Finish at Case Competition

February 19, 2021 by Eran Vijayakumar

Out of more than 60 teams, a team of undergraduate students at the U of T Department of Statistical Sciences finished in the top three in the Canada-wide annual Actuarial Students’ National Association (ANÉA-ASNA) case competition. Congratulations to Bob Song, Crystal Chen, Howard Chen, and Rachel Yang. 

The competition focused on pricing renters’ insurance for university students, and the team was tasked with creating an optimal pricing strategy based on a dataset. 

Student teams started to compete in September 2020 and the contest culminated in the final round presentations this January. Delivering a winning solution tested many of the team’s skills and competencies. Students’ tasks included data analysis, predictive modelling, report writing, and giving presentations. 

Why is renter's insurance for university students so important? Renter’s insurance, and insurance policies in general, are priced per policyholder - in the competition's case study, student renters - in order to factor in the potential for insurance loss. An optimal pricing strategy is important for insurers so that they can sustain losses. 

After analyzing the dataset, the team’s solution involved a pipeline of models to predict the level of risk and claim severity of each policyholder in the dataset. Rachel, the team lead, explained that the team analyzed many aspects of the dataset using their knowledge and skills that they had learned in their classes. First, they analyzed the actuarial risk to understand their dataset. Based on these newfound insights, they developed a business solution. 

When asked about the highlight of the competition, Howard shared the experience of being able to solve a real-world problem with a team. The competition offered a chance to apply rigorous theoretical knowledge from the classroom to a tangible problem.It was fun to represent U of T and compete with other teams, says Rachel. The top three finish is remarkable given that 67 teams competed this year.

For Crystal, taking part in the competition turned out to be a great learning experience, allowing her to expand her problem solving and technical skills. She shares that after the competition, her initial interest in statical sciences changed to wanting to pursue a career in actuarial science. 

All four students highly recommend competing in case competitions, as it can be a great learning opportunity, and most importantly, an enjoyable experience.