Cost of Insuring the World’s Population: $190 Trillion

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ARLINGTON, Va., March 07, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The cost of insuring the world’s population has been calculated at approximately $190 trillion, or roughly 2.5 times world GDP,1 according to leading global advisory, broking and solutions company Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ:WLTW). The calculation, run on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, involved an analysis of the insurance cost of providing each of the world’s 7.3 billion people with a $100,000 whole life insurance policy and took under two hours.

“This was a fascinating exercise to test cloud computing and software technology to the limit and push the calculation boundaries for insurers,” said Stephen Hollands, software-as-a-service and vGrid global product lead, Willis Towers Watson. “It demonstrates how industrialized risk modeling has become and how much processing power, speed and accuracy insurers have at their fingertips to price their products and manage risk and capital.”

Willis Towers Watson, using Microsoft Azure Batch cloud service, ran the specialized insurance calculation with over 100,000 processing cores in approximately 90 minutes. According to the company, the calculation would have taken 19 years on a stand-alone computer with a single core. The entire exercise — including a one-off setup and configuration of the customized grid and model, in addition to running the model several times — took less than 24 hours and used data centers around the world, including Australia, Brazil, Europe, India, and Japan.

“What question is bigger for a life insurance company than figuring out the cost of insuring the entire world’s population? Answering this complex question, in less than 24 hours, is a genuine technological triumph,” said Jonathan Silverman, insurance industry solutions director at Microsoft Corp. “In addition, the use of just a single programming interface on Microsoft Azure to do it, regardless of the number of cores involved, shows how easy it has become to achieve a level of scalability that was until now possible only through complex coding and intense management input.”

The calculation used RiskAgility FM, Willis Towers Watson’s latest financial modeling tool, which is designed to run complex financial models and hyperscale-sized jobs for life insurers. It also used the company’s new vGrid product, an infrastructure-as-a-service software tool that allows life insurers to run their models via an on-demand, cloud-based technology grid.

Notes to editors

This exercise was possible due to a number of advancements since the 50,000 core run performed by Willis Towers Watson in 2012 in a single-data center. The advancements include:

  • RiskAgility FM now being capable of distributing runs across multiple data centers and setups to harness a large array of compute power
  • The robust backbone of Microsoft Azure, which supports highly intensive insurance calculations across global data centers as well as distributes and collates data
  • The scalability of Microsoft Azure and RiskAgility FM, which harness the compute power of 100,000 cores to perform complex analytical calculations

About Willis Towers Watson

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Willis Towers Watson (NASDAQ:WLTW) is a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company that helps clients around the world turn risk into a path for growth. With roots dating to 1828, Willis Towers Watson has 39,000 employees in more than 120 countries. We design and deliver solutions that manage risk, optimize benefits, cultivate talent, and expand the power of capital to protect and strengthen institutions and individuals. Our unique perspective allows us to see the critical intersections between talent, assets and ideas — the dynamic formula that drives business performance. Together, we unlock potential. Learn more at


1. With a standard deviation of roughly 15% of world GDP

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Josh Wozman: +1 703 258 7670
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