Virtual reality, or VR for short, may have some limited applications outside of video games and entertainment, but major US insurer Allstate Insurance Company believes there is potential in the technology for use in the insurance industry.
A patent application assigned to Allstate was recently uncovered on the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) website. Filed on November 12, 2021, the patent presents the idea of using VR in insurance.
NewsRx first broke news on the patent filing. The inventors who filed the patent believe that VR could ultimately help both consumers and insurers.
“Selecting an appropriate level of insurance is a challenge for most insurance customers,” the inventors said under the background information of the patent. “It can be difficult to gauge what kinds of liability coverage, deductible levels, and other options a particular user may wish to have, and many users end up selecting coverage that is either too much coverage or not enough coverage. There remains an ever-present need to help insurance customers make better-informed decisions when selecting their insurance.”
In their summary of the patent, the inventors explained that users can undertake a driving simulator on a computing device, and when a simulated accident occurs the computing device could evaluate the estimated damages.
“The computing device may then calculate a plurality of liability estimates for the user corresponding to different insurance coverage options, indicating how much the user would have paid for the simulated accident had the user purchased the different insurance coverage options, and present these liability estimates to the user,” the summary continued, adding that users can then use the liability estimates to determine which level of coverage they need.
Apart from simulating crashes and showing what kind of coverage a driver would need, the inventors also noted that the VR device can be set to simulate a “variety of driving impairments” to test drivers’ abilities.
VR can also be used to observe a user’s driving habits without simulating a crash, the inventors have said. Those habits can then be quantified by the computing device to determine the user’s level of risk and driving skill, and then assign an insurance premium rate based on the data. It was also suggested that even undergoing the VR simulator affords the user a discount on their coverage.
The VR devices can also be used for home insurance customers, the inventors have noted. VR can create a home simulation to observe a user’s home living conditions, and assess their risk for accidents or crimes.
Allstate’s potential VR applications do not stop at just the consumer level. The company’s inventors have hinted that the simulations can also be used to train insurance adjusters in estimating repair costs. The adjuster’s performance could also be compared to the computing device’s damage estimate.