This month, Firemark Ventures, the venture capital arm of Insurance Australia Group (IAG), announced an investment in Ravin AI, an Israel-based tech company that makes a vehicle inspection platform.
“Having scanned the market for comprehensive and efficient vehicle inspection solutions, we found Ravin AI’s deep learning technology to be the most promising, with their accuracy, speed and transparency being central to the platform,” said Scott Gunther, IAG Firemark Ventures general partner.
According to Ravin’s media release, the “platform is designed to improve the accuracy of vehicle assessments, reducing operational costs and improving customer trust by providing more transparent repair quotes.”
Eliron Ekstein (pictured above), the firm’s CEO, said he expects the technology to be deployed across IAG’s direct and intermediated auto insurance lines in Australia and New Zealand.
“We have a tool that can connect to your mobile phone camera when you’re submitting a claim, get into an accident, or just buying up new insurance,” he said. “The insurance company can ask you to activate it and it guides you in taking images of your car.”
Ekstein said the technology can also identify parts of the car and take the right pictures.
He said his five-year-old company has customers using the technology, predominantly in the United States, including car leasing companies like Toyota Financial Services.
“What we do with those pictures is create a condition profile of your vehicle,” said Ekstein. “That condition profile can be used to estimate what repairs need to be done physically and give the insurance company an overall assessment on the condition of the car.”
He said the “unique” feature of the artificially intelligent platform is its ability to analyse images and also manage their quality.
“We had to create technology that we can send to you on your phone and operate live because you gather lots of data points while you’re doing the scan - I don’t think any other solution offers that today,” he said.
The Firemark investment, he said, is “enough to get us going” in Australian markets.
The partnership was the result, said Ekstein, of an IAG/Firemark visit to Israel “looking for new opportunities” to “enhance the customer experience” in both the policy purchase process and claims handling.
“They were quite interested to see how we could integrate the technology in their business and a good way to start the relationship is to create the investment and have them also guide us on the Australian market,” said Ekstein. “We’ve never worked in Australia [or New Zealand] before so we really like the opportunity.”
He said, despite similarities with the European, UK and US motor insurance markets, he expected there to be “nuances” that are different.
The first way insurers tend to use the technology, he said, is to make the purchasing of a policy easier.
“If your car is in good shape because you’ve looked after it, then our technology can make it easier for you to buy the insurance, to do the checks on the car for the insurance and also give you some discounts,” said Ekstein.
The platform’s AI, he said, can also predict your likely driving ability based on how you actually scan the images of the car.
“There’s a lot of analytics we do behind the scenes and we can give the customer a score that the insurance company factors into their pricing and into their confidence in you as a customer,” said Ekstein. “On the other hand, it’s nothing personal because we apply the technology completely anonymized.”
IB suggested that some industry stakeholders might see IAG’s visit to Israel in search of motor insurance tech as an unusual choice of country.
“Israel, I think has the largest number of technology companies listed on the NASDAQ, other than America,” said Ekstein.
He said a “significant amount” of the country’s economy comes from innovation.
“In fact, it’s called a ‘startup nation’ over here,” he said. “Wherever you go, if you have conversation, everybody has an idea for a new tech company.”
He said technology breakthroughs like the flash drive, were an Israeli invention.
“If you look at the evolution of Israeli technology, there are really unique circumstances here that support it - like the military,” said Eckstine. “We’re not a big nation, so we have to use technology to help us also defend ourselves and there are lots of other governmental policies over the years that really nurtured this whole innovation ecosystem.”
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