Touchless claims: An evolution in auto claim management

Touchless claims: An evolution in auto claim management | Insurance Business America

Touchless claims: An evolution in auto claim management

Technology and digital-first channels are revolutionizing how claimants manage their motor claims and repairs.

According to global market research released by vehicle lifecycle management company, Solera Holdings, there is increasing demand for digital-first automated claims, with trust in artificial intelligence (AI)-driven claims and repairs soaring to 79% globally. The Solera survey, published in April 2022, also revealed rapid acceleration of AI adoption among global car insurers, enterprise body shops and original equipment manufacturers (“OEM”) dealer networks to deliver on consumer expectations.

A majority (79%) of consumers today would trust automotive claims powered entirely by AI, up 7% year-over-year, according to the Solera Innovation Index 2022. Furthermore, 1/3 of consumers (34%) have completed a motor claim without ever speaking to a human. Almost all consumers (92%) called for self-service claims solutions, with 49% seeking fully digital self-serve motor claims, and 43% preferring a hybrid of digital and human contact. The era of touchless claims has arrived.

“The industry has made a lot of progress around touchless claims,” said Bill Brower, VP of industry relations at Solera. “It’s clear that those implementing cutting-edge technologies like AI will gain critical customer retention, efficiency, and resilience.”

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A veteran of the insurance industry, Brower is a respected thought leader in the concept of touchless claims. He is known for creating claims automation solutions, and designing and implementing digital transformation roadmaps across the insurance industry.

Two things Brower’s excited about at the moment are the use of AI and visual intelligence (which he calls VI) in vehicle damage assessment, and how insurers and body shops can leverage AI to transform the direct repair program (DRP) workflow.

If an insured driver is involved in a minor accident today, they can complete the entire claims process online or through an insurance app. Typically, they’ll have to provide their vehicle identification number (VIN) so that the insurer or body shop has a ‘vehicle mask’ to conduct the appraisal, and then they can upload photos of their damaged vehicle directly from their mobile phones, ideally using guided image capture to ensure the AI and VI detects damages with the highest accuracy.

That process can all happen within the space of a few minutes, live from the accident scene. From there, an automatic loss estimate is generated and sent to the insurer and body shop, who can then assess and tweak the estimate if needed. Once approved, the consumer will receive an electronic repair estimate and they can schedule their damaged vehicle in for repair.

Where Brower sees more room for innovation is in the DRP workflow. He envisages an Open Table-type solution for body shop selection, where insured drivers will be prompted at the scene of an accident to select a body shop and pick a rental car. Increasing efficiency through the process, and ease of communication between all key parties – insured, insurer, body shop, and rental car company – will go a long way in improving the customer experience.

“As insurers use this technology – and it’s not just AI estimating; it’s all kinds of digital tools that help to improve customer engagement – they’re making decisions on claims 55% faster,” Brower told Insurance Business. “The technology is there. The piece we’ve got to work on is changing the behaviors and the normal activities of the staff. If you just bolt digital capabilities onto the traditional claims process [without any strategy], you’re going to mess it up. Insurers have got to figure out what they can automate, what they trust with digital, and what requires a human touch.”

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Last week, Allstate – the fourth largest auto insurer in the US – was granted a patent for an automated mobile damage assessment and claims processing technology, which can calculate estimates and settle claims without the involvement of human adjusters. Allstate is not alone in developing touchless claims technology; many of the top players are delivering and/or developing similar tools.

“We’re seeing this touchless claims movement, but there’s still a lot of caution because insurers want to ensure their customer base is happy with the changes they’re making,” said Brower. “Companies are taking their time implementing this technology to make sure they do it right, but what I recommend is the test and learn approach. Try it with a small part of your business – maybe in one office, or one market – to get comfortable with the technology, and to perfect it.”

If insurers leverage digital tools properly, they can create an “Amazon-like experience,” according to Brower. Today, many insurers are struggling to maintain their claim service levels, due to staff shortages and the sheer volume of calls hitting the call centers.

“Digital tools would give them more bandwidth to improve their service levels,” said Brower. “What’s important with digital, if you want to get really high adoption, is giving users the opportunity to immediately chat with someone. If an insured is using a digital tool and they get stuck or they’re uncomfortable, they should be able to connect with a person immediately. When carriers have that type of design, it becomes very customer friendly.”