Phone apps based on artificial intelligence can now provide car insurance claim estimates in seconds, reducing the need for policyholder/adjuster interaction at the scene of car accidents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The phone apps aren’t widely used yet in the United States, but “their time is coming,” according to the New York Times.
The best A.I. algorithms currently provide insurance estimates in a few seconds which are as accurate as those done by experienced adjusters, according to the NYT.
London-based Tractable have produced A.I. which insurers in Europe and Asia have used to settle over $1 billion in claims. Tractable has fed around 10 million pictures of damaged cars to its A.I. algorithm, having obtained the photos from insurers.
Tractable co-founder Alex Dalyac explained how they trained their A.I., stating “instead of telling the A.I., ‘This is what a front bumper looks like; look for a corner like this and pixels like that,’ you feed the algorithm millions of images. Some contain a front bumper and some don’t. On a rainy day, a dark day, or a sunny one; an undamaged bumper; or one that needs three hours of repair. And the algorithm itself figures out the best combinations of pixel patterns that give it the most accuracy. It’s kind of magical, but it’s very data hungry.”
USAA has taken a different route, partnering with Google. USAA customers can upload pictures of their car damage to Google Cloud’s Vision API, which will analyze the damage.
The A.I. algorithms identify damage then pass the claims on to companies who calculate the costs of labor and obtain parts pricing. USAA customers’ damage assessments are passed onto Mitchell International, which uses A.I. to produce estimates for parts and labor.
Dalyac expects that American drivers will be able to obtain claim settlements almost instantly within a year. “In the next few quarters, there’s going to be an announcement of a very big American carrier — a household name — that’s going to be doing this,” Dalyac said.
USAA chief claims officer Sean Burgess said USAA customers would always be given the option of receiving a human estimate.
Dalyac doesn’t think this technology will necessarily put insurance adjusters out of work.
“The goal of our technology is to take care of the repetitive, straightforward cases so they can focus on the complex ones, or on providing better customer service,” Dalyac said. “Because sometimes when you’ve had an accident, you’re pretty shaken and want additional touch.”