Tag Archives: Texas Mutual Insurance

8 Exemplars of Insurtech Innovation

The winners of the SMA Innovation in Action Awards are Figo Pet Insurance, Meteo Protect, Motorists Insurance Group and Texas Mutual Insurance, among insurers, and Baseline Telematics, Life.io, Octo Telematics and Pristine, among service providers.

SMA launched this awards program five years ago to recognize projects and solutions that have reshaped one or more of the foundational areas for the Next-Gen Insurer: business model, customer, innovative culture and technology and data.

See also: Innovation — or Just Innovative Thinking?  

The insurer winners of 2016 SMA Innovation in Action Awards, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Figo Pet Insurance, for its unique approach to the pet insurance business model through the innovative use of emerging technologies. The proprietary Pet Cloud platform offers policyholders real-time pet GPS tracking, cloud storage for medical records, mobile claims filing, social pet profiles, a pet-friendly business locator, texts and alerts for coming shots and appointments. Figo’s reimagination of the pet insurance value proposition is focused on making life easier for people and their pets. Figo’s holistic approach offers a meaningful example of how the insurance industry can reinvent its business models and customer engagement strategies for the digital world.
  • Meteo Protect, for offering customized, data-driven agricultural insurance for weather-related risks. Customers can choose each parameter of their weather policies, including crop, period of coverage, specific weather event and intensity and payment amount. Meteo Protect’s Vivaldi platform aggregates huge volumes of weather-related data from 40 years of climate history; current readings from satellites, sensors, gauges and other global weather data sources; and commodity prices and crop yields. Meteo Protect’s focus on the changing nature of weather risks and emphasis on the uncertain future expands the possibilities for the personalization of insurance products and services.
  • Motorists Insurance Group, for creating an innovation space as part of the cultural shift necessary for its 10-year vision of organizational transformation. This vision hinges on Motorists’ reinvention as an “85-year-old startup” designed for innovation and collaboration. The Intersection, the company’s new collaboration space, represents a complete redesign of a 1940s space to prioritize natural light, bright colors and transparency. It facilitates global collaboration through the use of cutting-edge technology, enabling work to shift seamlessly across time zones and continents. Motorists demonstrates that no company is ever too established to change, and that vast and intangible changes like developing an innovative culture can start small and still have a big impact.
  • Texas Mutual Insurance, for “Safety in a Box,” a groundbreaking virtual-reality app designed to teach construction workers the value of following safety procedures. The app is available for download to a user’s phone, which can be inserted into a Google Cardboard virtual-reality viewer for an interactive, 360-degree viewing experience in English or Spanish. The user can experience the four most dangerous construction site accidents, including a collapsing trench, and see how safety choices determine the outcome of each scenario. Texas Mutual is distributing the boxes for free at construction industry events to promote workplace safety and reinvent the company’s role as a workers’ comp insurer.

A compendium of case studies detailing the success stories of the four winners and the 16 other insurers that participated in the SMA Innovation in Action Awards program is available here.

The solution provider winners of 2016 SMA Innovation in Action Awards, in alphabetical order, are:

  • Baseline Telematics, for its BaseDrive telematics solution, which leverages a mobile app and in-car Bluetooth dongle to give insurers everything they need to create their own usage-based insurance (UBI) programs.
  • Life.io, for its policyholder engagement platform for physical, emotional and financial health, which uses behavioral economics, predictive analytics and personalized content to drive high levels of sustained policyholder engagement and the achievement of personal goals.
  • Octo Telematics, for its telematics offerings that deliver behavioral, contextual and driving analytics, enabling insurers to provide value-added services for policyholders such as UBI pricing, loyalty programs, vehicle diagnostics, location-based services, mobile connections and more.
  • Pristine, for Pristine Eyesight, a video communication platform for smart glasses (e.g., Google Glass) and mobile devices that enables long-distance collaboration between field professionals via real-time audio and video connection.

A collection of case studies profiling the four solution provider winners, with details on the rest of the 27 solution provider awards submissions, will be released in early October.

See also: Insurance Innovation: No Longer Oxymoron  

Should Bad Faith Matter in Work Comp?

Here’s a sensitive question for the workers’ compensation community: Should workers’ compensation insurance companies and third-party administrators be subject to civil “bad faith” lawsuits?

Or should a state’s workers’ compensation system remain an exclusive remedy, even if a claims payer intentionally commits egregious acts such as denying benefits that it knows are due?

WorkCompCentral Legal Editor Sherri Okamoto reports that about half of the states have done away with any civil bad faith remedy either through legislative or judicial actions, and that the other half retain that remedy.

The contrasts are stark.

Okamoto cites an Iowa jury award an earlier this month of $25 million in punitive damages, along with $284,000 in damages, payable by the former employer’s workers’ compensation carrier for its bad-faith handling of his claim. The offense was failure to pay permanent total disability benefits after a 2009 accident left the worker with catastrophic injuries.

Other states where there is no civil remedy rely on administrative penalties and administrative judicial enforcement, but those policies, in states such as California, have been criticized for not sufficiently deterring bad behavior such as wrongfully denying medical care to the critically injured.

Okamoto notes that the states that do allow for civil remedies vary widely in the standards and definitions for reprehensible conduct.

Alaska and Arizona, for example, define “bad faith” as a refusal to pay a claim without any arguably reasonable basis. In contrast, Arkansas requires a showing of “affirmative misconduct” or “dishonest purpose” to avoid liability.

Colorado, Maine and Michigan make a carrier’s failure to act in good faith a breach-of-contract claim. Hawaii and Mississippi make carrier misconduct redressable in tort.

Texas used to permit bad faith actions until the Supreme Court’s decision in Texas Mutual Insurance Co. v. Ruttiger, which held there was no common-law bad-faith action in the Lone Star State for workers’ compensation claims handling.

Likewise, two months after Ruttiger came out, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that the state’s injured workers do not have a common-law right of action for pain and suffering caused by an insurer’s administration of a workers’ compensation claim in Stancil v. Ace USA.

The North Carolina Court of Appeals ruled recently that an injured worker cannot bring a tort action to recover damages from an insurance carrier for its alleged bad-faith claims handling.

The split surely raises the passions in people: Civil remedies fly in the face of the concept of administrative expediency that underlies workers’ compensation; yet, administrative enforcement needs sufficient “teeth” to encourage compliance and deter bad behavior.

What do you think?