The insurance industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by growing demand for digitalisation and personalisation. With growing importance of technologies such as telematics, machine learning, big data, deep learning, and data science, insurers are overcoming demographic challenges, low penetration rates, cybercrimes and fraudulent claims. In the last three years alone, there have been over 11,000 patents filed and granted in the insurance industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Insurance: Automated damage assessment.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

90 innovations will shape the insurance industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the insurance industry using innovation intensity models built on over 65,000 patents, there are 90 innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, property maintenance sensor networks and automated data annotation are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Fall detection sensing alarms, vehicle motion estimation, and building design risk analysis are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are trip metering-based insurance and real-time fault monitoring systems, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the insurance industry

Automated damage assessment is a key innovation area in insurance

Insurance firms use artificial intelligence and computer vision-based vehicle damage detection to assess damages remotely via automated damage assessment. It expedites the processing of insurance claims as analysts can obtain real-time damage reports and evaluate repairs instantly.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 10+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established insurance companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of automated damage assessment.

Key players in automated damage assessment – a disruptive innovation in the insurance industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to automated damage assessment

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
SoftBank Group 107 Unlock company profile
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance 90 Unlock company profile
Clearlake Capital Group 76 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 59 Unlock company profile
Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China 30 Unlock company profile
Tractable 23 Unlock company profile
Mitchell International 12 Unlock company profile
Cox Enterprises 12 Unlock company profile
Allstate 12 Unlock company profile
Toronto-Dominion Bank 11 Unlock company profile
Healthy io 11 Unlock company profile
Baidu 10 Unlock company profile
Yembo 9 Unlock company profile
American International Group (AIG) 6 Unlock company profile
Emergent Network Intelligence 6 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 5 Unlock company profile
Leonard Green & Partners 5 Unlock company profile
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

SoftBank Group is one of the leading patent filers in automated damage assessment. Their method includes creating an identifiable vehicle feature library. The technique determines whether any car damage is related to the same collision and whether any human assistance is required. The data is automatically logged and sent to a specific server system, such as an insurance provider. Therefore, even if survey staff or an unintentional user deletes the photo or video of the accident damage, the knowledge that the damage was already detected from another accident cannot be covered up, reducing the danger of fraud. Some other key patent filers in AI for the insurance industry include State Farm Mutual, Ping An Insurance, Clearlake Capital Group, Ping An Insurance, and Alphabet.

In terms of application diversity, Alphabet leads the pack, with Healthy io and Tractable in the second and third positions, respectively. By means of geographic reach, Alphabet holds the top position, followed by Emergent Network Intelligence and Cox Enterprises.

Ping An is another standout player in this space. Its image-based damage technology has been successfully deployed in China, allowing the insurer to digitise the claims process. This prompted Swiss Re to partner with Ping An to develop a digital end-to-end solution for the European market, dubbed Smart Claims. Like other solutions in this area, Smart Claims allows drivers to take a photo of car damage, so that the solution identifies an appropriate repair strategy and costs within minutes. Insurers using the technology can either offer direct cash payouts or else direct drivers to workshops where repairs can be carried out.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the insurance industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Insurance.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.