April 14, 2014

Tablets and smartphones are already enabling improved productivity for insurance field employees, such as claims adjusters and risk engineers, giving them the ability to connect with claims and risk engineering systems in real time. But new technology innovation that pushes the envelope of miniaturization, portability, and human integration is capable of doing so much more to advance productivity and efficiency in the future.

One such technology is Google Glass, which has captured the imagination of a wide audience and could potentially transform the insurance industry, shifting how insurers work and engage with customers. By offering hands-free constant connectivity and the ability to access massive computing power, Glass could be a productivity booster for field adjusters and property risk engineers, who can easily compile photos and notes and collaborate with remote specialists.

Michael Kim, Cognizant
Michael Kim, Cognizant

Industries such as healthcare, banking and financial services, and media have all begun to explore how Glass can help them be more productive and efficient. For instance, banks are experimenting with Glass for daily customer transactions, such as depositing checks, paying bills, and completing payments via QR code. Several U.S. banks are developing apps for customers; others already have Glass apps for monitoring the stock market.

[Previously from Francis and Kim: Changing the culture in insurance marketing]

As other industries explore the possibilities of leveraging Glass and building apps for customers and employees, the time is right for insurers to consider the first-mover opportunities Glass presents for them and their customers. The upgrades in features and functionality offered by Glass may help reduce operational costs through increased productivity, efficiency, and effectiveness of field staff, as well as help improve claims submission experience for customers.

Agil Francis, Cognizant
Agil Francis, Cognizant

Whether it's claims adjusters, risk engineers, or customers submitting claims, Glass can help the insurance industry in many ways. For claims adjusters and risk engineers, Glass cuts down the number of devices they need to carry to just one. With Glass, they can take photos and videos, and with voice commands, dictate captions and upload photos and videos instantaneously, while keeping their hands free to perform other tasks. If Glass could also add in a projected full-size keyboard to its capabilities, it would allow claims adjusters to quickly capture detailed notes, even in strenuous circumstances--for example, while examining the undercarriage of a car.

Glass would give adjusters and risk engineers easy access to remote specialists via videoconferencing, and those specialists would get an exact first-person view, enabling quicker decision making. Videoconferencing also enables multiple specialists to participate actively in the risk survey simultaneously. They could provide specific instructions to the risk engineer to obtain high-quality visuals, eliminating the need for multiple site visits and significantly reducing the time needed to prepare risk survey reports, leading to improved quality of reports and underwriting. Glass can also provide risk engineers with risk assessment checklists and survey guidelines that are right in front of their eyes, ensuring that nothing is missed.

[Esurance taps wearable tech for marketing]

For insurance customers, Glass can assist with the claims submission process. In most auto accidents, photos are unavailable when the customer service representative is engaged--instead, the first photo is usually taken by the claims adjuster, who has to create a visual of the accident through time-consuming and sometimes inaccurate interviews. This delays the settlement process, often leading to claims leakage and decreased customer satisfaction. In some scenarios, loss payouts can rise due to insufficient loss control measures that could have been taken by customers if they were aware of them. With Glass, customers can share their first-person view of the accident with the claims service representative, who can walk them through the claims submission process. Service representatives could help customers with loss prevention measures; with their hands now free, customers could easily follow the instructions, reducing loss payout. Capturing vital information upfront could reduce claims settlement time and also improve the claims submission experience.

Looking ahead, Glass has the potential to be the next wave of the technological revolution, changing consumer behavior and disrupting industries with new ways of doing business. As customers adopt Glass, they will expect to execute insurance transactions using this technology, and insurers need to be well-equipped to meet these demands. And, as insurance carriers build business and technology use cases as well as architecture and services, for mobile devices, they must consider how and where wearable technology such as Glass fits into their roadmap. Insurance carriers must prepare for this technological innovation now.

About the authors: Michael Kim is Vice-President, Insurance Consulting, and Agil Francis is Senior Manager, Insurance Consulting, at Cognizant.