Forbes: Insurance Getting A Fintech Facelift

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Traditionally viewed as a stodgy industry, insurance is slowing playing catch-up with the help of technology.

The use of technology by insurance companies has several practical advantages for customers. Among other things, it can mean faster, more efficient claims processes, policy-pricing that’s more closely aligned with a person’s health and access to more user-friendly and engaging educational tools designed to promote safety and reduce risk.

Here are a few ways technology is changing the insurance landscape and what it could mean for you as a consumer.

Accelerated claims settlements

Insurers are increasingly using technology that can be helpful in identifying damages or unusual behavior instantly and notifying relevent authorities.

Auto insurers, for instance, are increasingly using telematics devices to help detect accidents, as well assess as their severity and impact, according to Gopal Appuswami, a financial services analyst team lead at LatentView Analytics. These devices can identify a crash instantly when it occurs and also deploy emergency services and in-network tow trucks instantly to the location. Claims processing departments can make use of this data to estimate damage and process claims quicker and more precisely, a boon for customers, he says.

Insurers also have partnerships with various tech companies to provide IoT-embedded security devices such as smoke alarms, video doorbells and theft-detection. Some insurers are also using drones for property inspections to assess damage claims. These technology advances have the potential to speed up the claim process, assess damage remotely and more effectively identify fraud, Appuswami says.

Real-time feedback devices

More insurers are making use of real-time feedback devices to help make coverage-related decisions and encourage healthier lifestyles for their customers.

John Hancock was an early adopter in leveraging the power of wearable devices, partnering with Vitality to distribute free Fitbits to customers to track their well-being, Appuswami says. He cites efforts by other insurers like Oscar and Beam Dental to actively encourage their customers to use wearables and smart brushes by offering cash-back offers, shopping coupons, and discounts, he says.

Education and risk management

Some insurers are using augmented reality and virtual reality technology to provide interactive user experiences. They are using augmented reality to warn their clients about dangers, estimate damage, explain insurance plans, and more, Appuswami says.

Some examples he offers include:

  • Australia’s NRMA (National Roads and Motorists’ Association) Insurance and Liberty Mutual Insurance in the U.S. are using virtual reality for car crash and breakdown simulations, which can help encourage drivers to adhere to safe driving practices.
  •  Allianz, an insurance company based in the UK, has used the capabilities of augmented reality to increase customer awareness about many dangers they may face in their homes.
  •  Zurich Insurance, a general insurance company, is turning to augmented reality smartphone apps to help its managers improve their coaching, project management and people management skills.
  •  Desjardins Insurance of Canada opted to turn an annoying and boring process of choosing a convenient retirement benefit plan into a fun and exciting activity with the help of augmented reality.

Augmented reality can also help speed up the claims-settlement process. Claims adjusters can overlay images of a pre-loss condition for comparison, document damaged areas hands-free (useful for later VR accident simulations) and confer with remote experts, Appuswami says. “This makes it possible to more precisely estimate damage and process claims quicker, which will be beneficial for customers as well,” Appuswami says.

These are only a few ways insurance is changing. It will be interesting to see what else the future holds in this regard.