Robots are beginning to handle insurance claims

Aug. 4, 2017

Robots are taking over many jobs, from writing to farming. Now, they may be coming for insurance adjusters’ jobs. Nicole Friedman in The Wall Street Journal reports that drones are beginning to handle homeowners’ claims of damaged roofs, for example. She writes that one homeowner received a check in about a week to compensate for damage due to a storm.

Friedman also reports that about four in ten car insurers no longer use people to physically inspect damage in some cases, cutting claim-handling time to two or three days from 10 to 15 days.

She writes that automation can reduce the size of payouts, quoting Matthew Josefowicz, chief executive of insurance-technology consulting firm Novarica, as saying, “The faster you can settle a claim, typically the less you can settle it for, so there is a direct financial incentive.” He explains that water damage, for instance, can get worse if not addressed quickly.

However, Friedman notes that some say speed can have drawbacks, with auto-repair shops contending that photo-based appraisals can overlook significant damage and slow the claims process. She quotes Andrew Newman, president of reinsurance broker Willis Re, as saying, “It’s great to speed up certain parts of the process, [but] to think that one photograph, one piece of code, or one algorithm is the Holy Grail, I think is a bit of a misnomer.”

More automation could help. Friedman reports that Chicago startup Snapsheet applies AI to help car insurers produce a price estimate within three hours based on customer-submitted photos. And home-insurer Lemonade, founded last September, lets customers chat with a bot and upload photos and videos of them describing their loss. Friedman quotes the company’s chief executive as saying the company’s algorithms run 18 antifraud tests.

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