Photo Finish: Seeing is Believing

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14 December 2021

Auto Insurers Race To Use Images As Data


Smartphones enable collecting observational data for telematics programs. These images are now being used as data—where visual data come into play along with timestamps, devices, and locations. They are being used to curate permission, pre-fill, and photos during underwriting, claims, and billing. Images are now being used as data at scale by auto insurers.

Having photos from start to finish (from quote to issue in underwriting, from crash to repair in a claim, or capturing miles used for billing) is a new race for data-driven decision-making in auto insurance. A picture may be worth more than a thousand words (of data) in some instances, like the evidence of damage from being hit while parked, a car fire, a head-on collision with airbag deployment, or a flooded vehicle.

While using smartphones, sensors, and IoT data can accomplish many things around risk rating through observational data, there is still much risk data that is still unseen. That’s why obtaining more meaningful context and data matters. No one sees the car that is never driven except the policyholder when they wander into their garage.

Companies are combining photos with other telematics data to be smarter in the market and quicker to react to change. They continuously re-rate in near real time at the customer level, not the entire book of business, so they dynamically update as risks change. This “risk of unit one” is a personalization breakthrough for portfolio management. The whole is now exactly the sum of its parts at each point in time.