Luke Holloway investigates how artificial intelligence is about to revolutionise the motor claims sector.
The move towards artificial intelligence (AI)-powered driverless cars received a new thrust of momentum recently with the Budget announcement of £400m investment
for electric vehicle infrastructure, a £40m boost for driverless car research and development, as well as removal of legal constraints and rules that apply in many EU nations.
UK Chancellor Philip Hammond said: "No technology is as symbolic of the upcoming revolution as driverless vehicles," while making it clear in his Budget speech that the government fully supported the move to driverless technology and would "step up support for it".
But, before driverless cars, he said, cars need to become electric.
Russell Goodenough, client managing director, Transport Sector at Fujitsu, says: "The future of transport is notoriously difficult to predict; however, we're seeing a clear move towards increasingly connected and autonomous cars becoming the norm in just a few years' time.
"The latest announcement from Chancellor Hammond is yet another indicator of the UK's commitment to accelerating the pace of change and the government's intention to secure an instrumental role for UK business in the industry's future."
AT THE CUTTING EDGE
But where use of autonomy is yet to become commonplace in society, insurers are already ahead of the curve, using the very latest in cutting-edge technology to deal with claims, policy premiums and fraud.
Tractable is a deep learning company specialising in computer vision and focused on claims automation. The firm's proprietary AI algorithms assess auto physical damage from photos just like human experts and their products reduce fraud, waste and abuse while transforming the claims value chain and customer experience.
Senior business development and product manager for Tractable in Europe, Jan Moehlmann, tells us: "The technology we have now is extremely powerful and can impact the entire value chain. We have already begun to demonstrate that we can facilitate significant savings by reducing friction in the motor claims handling process with use of our AI algorithms.
"Every player in the motor collision ecosystem benefits; not just the body shops and the insurance companies but also, and perhaps most crucially, the policyholders."
The technology now being used helps to remove friction in the motor claims handling process, leading to lower costs, shorter cycle times and immediate feedback when filing a claim. It also gives insurers the ability to cost effectively review every single claim, flag inconsistencies and therefore fight the fraudsters.
Mr Moehlmann continues: "Tractable just won the award for the 'insurtech with most strategic impact' at the Digital Insurance Agenda in Munich, one of the largest insurtech conferences. This is because we are helping insurance companies tackle these challenges.
"The policyholder is arguably the biggest beneficiary in all this. With our technology, insurers can not only keep their costs in check but also offer a superior claim experience. This ultimately results in a better insurance product, better coverage and better service, all at a lower price. Win-win."
At telematics innovation company ITS, new technology is helping match driving attitudes to real outcomes and, more than ever, help drivers to avoid becoming a statistic.
Working with Microsoft Azure, the firm is developing technologies such as machine learning which, combined with telematics data, can create accurate prediction models.
ITS is applying machine learning to the impact data received from the telematics units to predict if the data received indicates a true accident or not. This has the capability to generate an accident notification within minutes that can be used by insurers to contact the policyholder as soon as an accident is detected.
The firm's CEO Andrew Bennett says: "The technology currently available can completely change the claims process by detecting legitimate incidents and, more importantly, it can immediately identify fraudulent claims. This rapid and accurate model can recreate the accident using the collected data and then produce accessible on-demand reports that can be accessed via a customer portal.
"When crash does occur, our tech enables the customers experience to be the best it can be and the insurer's exposure to be minimised, by enabling the right decision to be taken over liability much more quickly than ever before."
So, the path towards autonomous vehicles appears clear and closer than ever to coming to fruition. With new technology and algorithms now taking vast quantities of data and turning that into real, actionable AI, accident rates will decrease, fraudulent claims will be minimalised, ultimately leading to cheaper premiums and effortless motor insurance claims.
Mr Bennett concludes: "Telematics technology and the way we apply it will ultimately reduce the frequency and severity of accidents. It will simply mean better customer propositions can be developed and we can ensure insurance remains affordable in the context of ever more sophisticated vehicles.
"In 2018, we expect the first insurers starting to really onboard telematics claims and taking benefit from the severity as well as frequency cost reductions. We believe we're at the start of something groundbreaking."