Some Respect for Insurance Innovators

When's the last time you saw a glowing statement about insurers in a national, non-insurance publication?


The insurance industry is good at beating itself up for not innovating faster -- and many analysts and customers are all too happy to join in -- so it was a welcome surprise to see this article last week in the New York Times, enthusiastically describing a nearly frictionless future for auto claims.

The article quotes an executive as saying, "In the near future,... we're going to take the [auto claims] process from days or weeks to minutes.”

When's the last time you saw such a glowing statement about insurers in a national, non-insurance publication? Doesn't it feel good?

The Times article said the most aggressive innovation is happening outside the U.S. because of the complications caused by state-by-state regulation in the U.S. The piece singled out Tractable, in London, as a leader in the technology that lets customers take pictures of their damaged cars and have artificial intelligence instantly generate an accurate estimate -- cutting days out of the process by removing the need for an appointment with a human adjuster and for extensive back-and-forth between the adjuster and the repair shop. The piece cited Admiral Seguro, an insurer in Spain, as an early implementer of the technology; it may even offer payment of a claim within minutes.

The Times said the innovations will move into production in the U.S. soon -- there are lots of pilots, but a human appraiser currently still double-checks the AI, acting as a sort of safety driver. The pandemic is speeding up the transition because it discourages face-to-face interactions.

I'm not saying that what the Times wrote is news to those in the industry. At ITL, for instance, we've been closely following the trend toward a fully digitized auto claims process, including this piece just last week on automating payments. Early this summer, this well-researched piece explained how innovations are "producing almost touchless processes for claims and enabling cycle times of seconds, minutes and hours instead of days and weeks." A bit later, this article laid out how COVID-19 was accelerating the trend.

What I am saying is that we should all feel good that the industry's efforts to innovate are being noticed by the general population.

Of course, we now have to redouble our efforts. After all, everyone's expectations have just been raised.

Stay safe.


P.S. Here are the six articles I'd like to highlight from the past week:

Digital Future of Insurance Emerges

Patterns are emerging out of the fog of this pandemic and paint a clear view of the future of insurance, leaving only the timing uncertain.

AI in Commercial Underwriting

Machine learning and AI are incredibly well suited for helping to deal with the masses of data that underwriters now face. Here are five keys.

Selling Where Life Happens

What if life insurers reinvented themselves to be like retailers, obsessed with the point of purchase – digitally and in-person?

How to Minimize Flood Losses

Flood warnings have two weaknesses: lack of detailed information on the precise locations at risk of flood and too many false alarms.

5 Safety Keys for COVID-Era Building

Construction crews need continual training in the best of times, and the evolving challenges of COVID-19 heighten the need.

A Study on Expanded Use of ‘Presumption’

A shift on the presumption of coverage for COVID-19 under workers' comp risks undermining the Grand Bargain.

Paul Carroll

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Paul Carroll

Paul Carroll is the editor-in-chief of Insurance Thought Leadership.

He is also co-author of A Brief History of a Perfect Future: Inventing the Future We Can Proudly Leave Our Kids by 2050 and Billion Dollar Lessons: What You Can Learn From the Most Inexcusable Business Failures of the Last 25 Years and the author of a best-seller on IBM, published in 1993.

Carroll spent 17 years at the Wall Street Journal as an editor and reporter; he was nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize. He later was a finalist for a National Magazine Award.