How Chubb is utilizing drones, AI and blockchain for data analytics

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Drones, artificial intelligence and blockchain are top of mind for Chubb Insurance in modernizing company efforts around underwriting and claims management, according to Puneet Bhardwaj, SVP of digital analytics.

The use cases for blockchain in insurance are endless; he told a room full of industry peers, venture capital investors and startups at American Family Ventures’ second Insurtech NYC event, organized in partnership with Montoux. As an example, the ledger technology could prove critical after automobile accidents as a one-stop shop for claims information that no single corporation owns.

In all, 10 potential use cases for blockchain are possible in insurance, according to Bhardwaj. They include: product authentication—to help users check for counterfeit products and fraudulent transactions—smart reinsurance contracts for automatic payments on straightforward claims, automating customer verification and keeping and creating company business records. Of all the use cases identified, Chubb says it is currently working on at least half, but did not specify which.

“Blockchain is one technology that if you don’t know it today, learn it because it’s coming in the next five to 10 years,” said Bhardwaj. The same is true, he predicts, for when the industry will see a multitude of carriers writing coverage on smart contracts, he added.

Drones, or unmanned aircraft vehicles, are a technology Chubb has already deployed in full force. The company began its drone practice in 2017 to assess commercial risk—for roof inspection, as an example—but quickly learned their best use for UAVs was on the claims side. During Hurricane Harvey and the ensuing California wildfires, Chubb deployed drones to capture images of ravished areas following the CAT events.

“Drones capture stuff humans may miss,” Bhardwaj said.

Also see: 2017’s record hurricane season put insurance transformation to the test

As the insurer continues to innovate, it believes the role of humans in the claims management process will diminish. For instance, machines will soon be able to analyze all pictures coming in from UAVs. On smaller claims, such as damaged shingles, Chubb has already reached full automation, Bhardwaj says. Claims adjusters are still required in more complicated cases.

Finally, Chubb has seen a lot of innovation on the AI front as well, particularly in computer vision, speech analytics and natural language processing for chatbots. This is made possible by machine learning. However, the stream of relevant data to fuel the technology is lacking in the industry, he noted.

Chubb is now working with startups across the world, especially in Israel, to solve some of the shortcomings related to data for cognitive computing. The insurer has no established structure, such as an innovation lab or accelerator, to communicate with startups. Instead, it opts to work with and invest in industry newcomers on an ad hoc basis.

Much like blockchain, creating a steady flow of useable data for insurers makes a myriad of opportunities available to insurers, Bhardwaj said. The biggest impact is arguably in digital marketing, where Chubb can better understand when and how its customer base of high-net worth clients want new products delivered.

“More innovation is required in data quality to train our models and AI,” Bhardwaj concluded.

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Blockchain Drones Artificial intelligence Machine learning Predictive analytics Customer data Hurricane Harvey Natural disasters Chubb AmFam