Artificial intelligence, or AI, is here to stay. For better or for worse, robots and learning machines are going to play an ever-larger role in our everyday lives – from autonomous cars and virtual personal assistants like Siri and Alexa, to buying and claiming on insurance.
You don’t need to read the latest scientific research to see how fast AI – the ability of computers or machines to perform tasks commonly associated with humans – is developing.
If you really want to consider how quickly AI has become a part of all of our lives, just think about the last time you registered for a new service online. How much bother did you have to go through just to prove you weren’t a robot? Once, all you had to do was tick a box. Then robots learnt how to tick boxes. Then you had to read a word set in a strange and curvy way. Now you have to identify individual elements that are contained within a selection of photographs.
In fact, from chatbots and spam filters in your email box, to recommendations on online shopping sites, you are probably engaging with AI more than you realise.
There are all sorts of ways AI, used together with other emerging technologies, could in future help the insurance claims process – and make your experience of claiming smoother and easier.
Thanks to the internet of things – connecting devices to the internet and other devices – insurance companies will probably be able to let policyholders know when something has happened, before they have even noticed it themselves. They could tell you your freezer has broken down the very moment it happens, before you notice a pool of water all over your kitchen floor, helping you quickly take action and stop a freezer of food from defrosting.
AI will be combined with other technologies to minimise damage. Thanks to remote sensors, insurers will be able to know where things are and what state they are in – all in real time. For example, if your water tank freezes, you could be alerted immediately. It could be repaired before the ice thaws and the water that pours out destroys the ceilings, carpets and partition walls below.
If you changed your behaviour in ways that could affect your insurance premiums, your insurer might be able to alert you before it starts costing you. For example, telematics enable your insurance company to see if a policyholder with a mileage cap on their motor insurance is suddenly driving many more miles than usual – perhaps commuting to a new job – before they’ve invalidated their policy by covering too much ground.
Big data – the analysis of huge amounts of data – combined with AI, will allow greater predictive accuracy about the likelihood of claims and the entire claims process.
A picture is worth a thousand words
The examples above only scratch the surface of AI’s potential use in insurance. There are many small technology companies trying new things that could revolutionise how people buy their insurance and make claims.
For example, one US start-up company called Lapetus has used AI to invent an entirely new way of calculating risk for life insurance policies, by using a single photograph. The company claims that from this single image, its algorithm can draw a huge amount of data – including gender, rate of ageing and body mass index – to help it produce a reliable and accurate prediction of life expectancy.
Nobody knows how big a role AI will have on people’s insurance policies in the future. But AI, combined with the human touch, looks likely to make everyone’s lives easier.