As a whole, insurers have been reluctant to touch their reliable claims systems—let alone reaping serious competitive advantage by investing heavily in them. Nearly 80 percent of insurers, according to Towers Watson's "Property & Casualty Claim Officer Survey," are not beyond "initiative exploration of claims-related predictive analytics."

But change appears to be inevitable, and large insurers (those with more than $750 million in direct written premium) are leading the way. A less-gaudy 58 percent have yet to seriously explore predictive analytics; also, 92 percent have made a "major claims modification" within the last three years, compared to 70 percent of medium insurers and 63 percent of small.

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