INNOVATIVE IT INSURANCE SERVICES IN A CONSERVATIVE INDUSTRY?
While insurance is not known as an extremely innovative or exciting industry, new technology has created a platform for a number of interesting insurance information technology (IT) services to consumers and insurance providers alike. Here we provide an overview of the top 5 innovative IT insurance services.
#1: PAY AS YOU DRIVE
Pay-as-you-drive insurance calculates premiums based on an individual’s driving profile, rewarding safe driving while tracking and increasing premiums on dangerous driving styles. Drivers who constantly speed up, brake suddenly, or drive in bad weather conditions (eg, snow, rain) find themselves paying higher premiums than those who follow the rules of the road. A “black box” device installed in the car tracks key trip parameters and transfers the data to the insurance company, which then regulates the premium rate.
Some insurance companies already offer simplified versions of Pay-as-you-drive solutions:
- Allianz Lloyd Adriatic
Companies like Accenture are intensively researching this issue in order to offer new solutions.
#2: SOCIAL BENCHMARKING
Online insurance quoting platforms, such as Kanetix, offer access to a limited number of insurance providers, allowing consumers to review only a subset of prices, which are based on insurance provider data.
Insurance Premium Social Benchmarking provides independent, consumer-generated data on all insurance providers. As consumers share information about their insurance costs, they can tap into the collective experience of other consumers, identifying whether they are paying too much and who offers the best prices for their peers with a similar insurance profile.
An example of such a service is the InsurEye Peer Comparison tool, which covers not only expense information for online insurance products (20-30% of the total market), but also for insurance offered directly by insurers, brokers, and agents.
#3: ONLINE POLICY MANAGEMENT
Online banking has become the norm, but online insurance management? Personal banking financial management tools and other useful online IT services are available to consumers free of charge. Finally, the insurance industry has begun to close the gap. Many insurance providers now offer online and mobile tools to help consumers manage their policies and provide customer service. One example is TD Insurance, which offers an online service that allows customers to perform many tasks on their own, eliminating the need to call a service line. Examples of such tasks are:
- Modify contact information
- Modify an auto policy
- Modify a home policy
- Modify a payment plan
- File a claim
Several insurance providers in both Canada and the United States offer such tools for their clients, for example, TD Insurance, Nationwide, USAA, and more.
#4: MOBILE DEVICE CLAIMS
Collisions don’t happen while you’re sitting at home at your computer. Instead, many insurance companies have developed solutions to help customers deal with their collisions and claims situations on their mobile devices. A typical example of a mobile application offers customers many practical features that reduce headaches in the event of an accident. A typical set of functions for such an IT solution includes:
- List of tips in case of an accident
- Capture all required accident information (including photos)
- Find/request towing service
- Find a repair shop
- Start a claim process
- Check claim status
- Find an insurance agent
These apps are usually free and users can start using them directly after downloading from an app store. Especially useful is the ability to take a photo of an accident to document exactly what happened and estimate the potential level of damage.
#5: DISTANCE AWARD
If you’ve ever been in a car accident, you’re probably familiar with the range of emotions you experience: fear for your own health and the health of those in the car, worries about the financial impact on future insurance premiums, not being sure what to do and in what order, dealing with the police, towing services, another car driver, etc.
Some companies, for example RBC Insurance, have so-called Road Angels: insurance experts who physically arrive at the scene of the accident to help the customer.
Instead of dispatching an agent to the scene, IT insurance services could potentially provide long-distance assistance via video. Modern smartphones are capable of streaming two-way video, making it possible to show an insurance expert what happened while also making the customer feel more secure.
Video conferencing providers like Skype already offer these technical features, and Apple has FaceTime, a new video chat for its iPhone users. It is likely only a matter of time before this technology results in a mature IT insurance service.