Have you seen a surge in announcements describing the digital transformation of a key stage in motor claims- damaged vehicle inspections and repair?  Harnessing imaging, metadata, AI, and vast databases to automate vehicle damage claims and repair. To get vehicles back on the road faster, control costs and keep customers, staff, and repairers happy.

Made me wonder about the level of digital transformation by motor insurers. That lead me to the Altus DigitalBar that rates the digital maturity of UK insurers. 

The actual outcome is best described as like that of the Curate’s Egg- a thing that is partly good and partly bad. (Origin early 20th Century from a cartoon in Punch depicting a weak curate who, given a stale egg at the bishop’s table, assures his host that ‘parts of it are excellent). 

Altus Consulting’s DigitalBar (you can get a 14-day free trial here) has measured carrier’s digital maturity over the years. 

Here, for example, is the 2020 digital maturity rating of #1 in the list 1st Central- 76%

 

The high proportion of green boxes visualises the 76% overall rating, amber highlights ‘more to do’ and red little or no digital transformation.

Only 1stCentral scores over 75%, the median score is 48% and a quarter of insurers score below 30%. The report covers only 34 insurers but even so offers a good sample of carriers. 

Whenever a study like this is published the subjects of the research can say “That was last year; we have made great progress since then”. I decided to augment Altus’s 2020 research with a current day look at the customer experience and journey and the picture is much the same with some improvement. 

Digital maturity is focussed on Quote & Buy rather than Claims.


 Many insurers have worked hard to make it simpler to get a quote and buy insurance. Altus shows the insurers which achieve this with fewer questions ( Top bar 0-60) .

 

Carriers are competing with price comparison sites (PCWs), other carriers and the new full-stack insurtechs that have now scaled up using external data to help improve and digitally transform the quote & buy process. 

It is often said that the time when a customer needs an insurer is when making a claim so let’s look at that overall, 33% rating covering the whole motor claims customer journey. 

Motor claims digital maturity

Most of that is at the FNOL stage with just 41% offering the convenience of registering claims online in 2020. One of these is a leading brand that lets customers log on only to be then told that a claims handler will ring them back. I looked at the same insurers today and there has been a rise to 47% by July 2021- still less than a half.

Being able to upload photos, videos, documents and add information from a phone or tablet? 

In 2020, 17% of insurers managed that improving to 30% in July 2021. That makes the job of engineers and claims adjusters to plan damage repair and replacement  easier because of more relevant and accurate data being available faster.

There is increasing evidence of early hype about automation maturing into real progress and digital transformation. Leveraging guided virtual inspections, image and metadata analysis and AI combined with vast databases of previous claims and vehicle model data.

"Tractable, a company that uses computer vision and machine learning to build algorithms for insurance companies, says 25 percent of its estimates are so on-the-nose, they don’t need human intervention. The company wants to get that figure to 75 percent by the end of the year, says Alex Dalyac, Tractable’s CEO and cofounder. " 

Aarian Marshall in Wired 13th April 2021

LexisNexis in a 2021 “Future of Claims” survey of 25 leading auto insurers (all US) found six of them using or piloting “touchless claims” potentially fully managed by technology. 

Five of the six are from Top 10 carriers, according to LexisNexis. Two years ago, none of the executives LexisNexis polled had said they’d reached that level of deployment.

LexisNexis defines “touchless claims” as claims handled potentially without any involvement.

“Technology handles the entire claims process, including damage assessment and electronic customer communication,” LexisNexis wrote in the “Future of Claims Report.” “A system audit determines if the claim gets approved. If so, it is paid automatically without human intervention.”

The study also found six more Top 50 insurers using “virtual claims” than two years ago. LexisNexis defines this as remote processes like human photo estimating or video chats.

Ironically, the number of executives sure they wouldn’t use touchless claims rose by three from 2019, and another Top 50 executive agreed they wouldn’t use virtual claims.

The slight rise in naysayers is interesting given LexisNexis also found some insurers who had gone nearly all virtual during the pandemic have scaled back this methodology.

“Prior to the shutdown, fewer than 15% of claims were handled virtually,” LexisNexis wrote, citing feedback from LexisNexis Risk Solutions customers. “Based on our conversations with carriers, as soon as the first shutdown was implemented, virtual claims handling increased to nearly 100%. Almost a year later, virtual claims handling has settled to a level of a little over 60%.” (Emphasis LexisNexis.)

LexisNexis found all 25 carriers were using traditional field inspections, and 23 were using “Fast Track” processes involving a third-party, such as a body shop, writing the initial estimate. Both were slight increases over 2019.

Reported in Repair Driven News June 2021. ( follow link at bottom of article). 

There are similar projects in mainland Europe and the UK, but you can see from the visual below that it is one thing to run projects and another to see this evidenced as widespread deployment.  NB- these are for simple accidental repair; more complex ones will always require human intuition and engagement even when virtual inspections help in the process. 

 Source: LexisNexis

Tracking Claims

Take something that all online customers take for granted from Amazon- being able to track my purchase from warehouse to the door with a predicted delivery date. 

In 2020 the DigitalBar shows just 11% of insurers providing any tracking information and only 3% delivering an Amazonesque quality information. I know some that have initiated real-time tracking in 2021 so expect to see that increase.

So, the overall outcome today is a case of the Curate’s Egg! 

Why is that and what to do about this state of affairs?

It is not for a lack of viable technology; viable in that it is proven, scalable, affordable and others have tried it before so there is little risk. I have described many below but before we talk digital platforms let’s look at the human side. 

It is more likely the fact that VP Claims, Claims Directors and Managers are very focussed on today’s issues and crises and have limited motivation and time to consider the ever-increasing number of technology solutions available. Technology vendors often forget that so fixated are they on their own solutions rather than a buyer’s problems. Buyers have a vast legacy technology stack that central IT has to maintain (about 80% of the IT budget according to Gartner) interspersed with new digital point solutions. Plus a large team of claims adjusters, counter-fraud experts and a dispersed network in the supply chain to compete for their attention. 

Add to that the normal human aversion to change and it all takes time. The technology that enables virtual motor inspections, application of AI to speed up damage repair and claim settlement have been going on since 2017. Accuracy rates were initially no better than human intuition and only now are climbing towards the 80% level that makes a real outcome difference.

Add to that the repair network with its own body/repair shop management system stacks and an aversion to open up the appointments book so that insurers ( or customers) can book a vehicle in, manage time and keep the customer informed as to progress and it takes much effort and time to effectively implement solutions like virtual handling and touchless claims.

To make it more complicated what’s the use of tackling just that stage unless you also make it easy for customers, claims teams and supply chain partners across the whole claim lifecycle? You need technology partners that can help you with the complete picture and not just a specific stage. That means they think more about your numbers and your customers than about their own numbers i.e. licensing fees.

Who spend less time keen to talk about their solutions and more time to talk about your issues. Where you are today and where you want/need to be tomorrow. 

Digital transformation takes time to achieve effectively. Neobanks might seem to have sprung on the scene and digital payment systems but they have taken a decade or more to appear. There must be a clear vision, business case, strategy, resourcing and the culture and organisation must be ready and able to leverage the technology. And should embrace all of insurance from Quote & Buy through Distribution to Claims and Supply chain management. 

That takes leadership across all processes from the CEO and C-Suite to managers and team leaders. Clear direction, organisation, planning and motivation. Only then can technology deliver the outcomes desired for customers, business partners and staff. 

And it should be said that digital transformation of bad processes will not yield advantage. The NFU might score lower down in the DigitalBar but its products, processes and customer service are very good. It is Which Magazine’s recommended car insurer.

Nevertheless, customers expect more virtual experience, more real-time updates to the phone and tablet, 24/7 engagement whilst at the same time being able to talk to a real human being at any time they want to. That demands more digital transformation to augment homo sapiens claims capabilities. There is an extra motivation today.

UK motor insurers expected to make losses in 2021 and 2022

Premiums are set to drop by 6% this year due to changes in car usage and the whiplash reforms 

While the UK motor insurance market reported its best underwriting profit in 2020, with a net combined ratio (NCR) of 90.3%, in 2021 and 2022 the sector is expected to make losses, according to professional services firm EY.

In its latest UK motor insurance results predicts that the sector’s net combined ratio (NCR) for 2021 will be 103.7% due to underlying inflation. This will also cause a NCR of 112% for 2022.

Rodney Bonnard, UK insurance leader at EY, said: “There has been a great deal of disruption over the past year and the challenging market environment is set to continue, compounded by an increasingly soft market and a ramp up of regulatory requirements.

(See full report in Insurance Times) or contact EY.

This is an added challenge for insurers and claims leaders. They must transform, must find the time and money but face falling profitability. To help, the modern digital claims platforms offer cash-flow efficient licensing, little or no Capex burden, can be implemented in small bites and faster and customised to every motor claim peril and journey.

They will help you to halve the size of call centres over time and transform them from call centres to customer engagement centres. This can be accomplished in an evolutionary manner to keep morale high, upskill jobs and roles and minimise disquiet. Given the prediction about profitability it is a necessity. 

Better still, the no-code and low-code platforms mean that you can train a small number of business and/or systems analysts to keep innovation and constant improvement inhouse rather than be dependent on the vendor all the time. That saves time and cost and being platform-as-a-service (PaaS) on AWS, Azure or other clouds platforms you will always be on the latest version and no longer subject to major upgrades every three to five years.

One word of warning; beware of those vendors who are not ready to integrate with and recognise the constraints of your current core systems that you cannot afford to throw away. They will need to have integration resources and skills and incorporate other third-party point solutions. Examine the technology roadmaps to see how far they go e.g. can they really tackle cost-control and reserving across all stages including recoveries and subrogation. The devil is always in the detail and another reason digital transformation takes longer and costs more than you think.

They will have to put some development and integration resource skin into the game.  

You probably know the main potential technology partners to choose from.

•    Major core platforms Guidewire, Duck Creek, Majesco, ICE, Pega and so on. Good on breadth of functionality but sometimes lacking in specifics e.g. claim management. And traditionally involving Capex and high annual licensing costs though that is changing.

•    Quote & Buy Platforms like HUGHUB that enables an insurer to allow a customer to interactively manage all their policies from one dashboard 

    Digital Claims Platforms Synergy Cloud, RightIndem, Snapsheet, ClaimsGenius, Salesforce Industries, Five Sigma, 360Globalnet, etc

•    Auto Ecosystems Core Logic, Verisk, Lexis Nexis, Mitchell International etc

•    Point Solutions Weathernet, Tractable, Audatex/Solera, Shift, Friss Sprout.ai, Solera and many others

•    Combined claims services and technology providers Crawford & Company, Sedgwick, Davies Group, Claims Consortium Group. Control€xpert etc.

•    No-Code/Low-Code app building platforms from Unqork, Netcall…

•    Embedded insurance Wrisk, Qover, etc


It can be bewildering to search through all the potential technology partners. Traditionally insurers relied on systems integrators and the big consulting companies. They come with a big price tag and some say inbuilt bias. And with so many new insurtechs entering the market all the time how do you and they keep track?

In the UK Instech London with Robin Mertens, Matthew Grant and Craig Polley is a good starting point with webinars, reports and starting again in September live events. 


I have found Sonr a goldmine of information on established, new and upcoming technology partners. When no one partner delivers everything CTOs and business leaders need to know who best to be part of an integrated overall solution to deliver competitive advantage without breaking the bank or delaying progress. Sonr offers the tools to find out what you need backed by custom research if needed.

Other sources include:-

  • CB Insights
  • Beauhurst
  • Tracxn
  • Pitchbook
  • Innovator’s Edge
  • Global Data


So, the digital transformation picture for motor insurers may be like the Curate’s Egg today, but it is improving and there are the technology partners out there to achieve success. The rate of competition is accelerating and in the longer term disruption will be seen from a number of trends.

The adoption and implementation of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

Currently at level two and advancing to level three  the quality and quantity of data generated by vehicles is enormous and currently auto OEMS share only a small portion with insurers. As ADAS advances to level four (autonomous driving) the auto OEMs may outflank Google/WAYMO and have the best data for underwriting and claims management.

The role of companies that can integrate that data for auto OEMs and Insurers will be important e.g. Tractable, Audatex, Verisk, Core Logic, Mitchells, LexisNexis.

AS will be the platforms that are needed on which to integrate these services and technologies. Best to ask how many data scientists these technology companies have. The likes of Synergy Cloud, Sprout.ai. , Control€xpert, Tractable Mitchells and LexisNexis are well resourced. 

Insurers had better plan for that- how do they keep a leadership position in growing auto and insurance ecosystems. We all know Tesla currently has the best data on Tesla vehicle and driver behaviour and wants to offer insurance and manage claims itself. Other auto OEMs will catch up and already offer embedded insurance so embedded claims management is a next step.

Finally fully autonomous driving (AD) may be some way away and probably limited to city centres and major highways but the data will be there whether AD is achieved or not. Who controls the data controls the monetisation of insurance products and services. 

And at some time insurance will pivot from insuring the driver/vehicle to product liability. Until hen auto insurers must plan the strategies, ecosystems and digital transformation to monetise the value-add they deliver. 

If you would like to discuss this topic more please message me on LinkedIn or call me on +44 7341 971132


Thank you


PS: This article parallels that I published on Home Insurance which you can access here:

Home Claims Digital Maturity, Strategic & Tactical Digital Transformation and choosing the right technology partners though three use cases