The future of the non-life insurance industry will be shaped by a range of disruptive themes, with robotics being one of the themes that will have a significant impact on non-life insurance companies.
GlobalData defines a robot as a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically and repeatedly. Insurers are increasingly using a key segment of the robotics value chain, drones, to streamline claims and risk assessment processes.
Robotics is helping insurers inspect post-catastrophe areas that are hazardous for human adjusters. For example, Farmers Insurance uses Boston Dynamics’ robot dog for in-field catastrophe claims handling and property inspections. Such robots can relay their findings via video footage in real-time and feature third-party software. On the same note, drones can inspect dangerous terrains and assets, saving on the need for additional agents and infrastructure for human inspections. In addition, drones allow inspections to be carried out more quickly, improving customer service.
Medical robots and exoskeletons are growing areas of interest for insurers, who are increasingly offering policyholders access at no additional cost. For example, AIG partnered with Cyberdyne to offer policyholders in rehabilitation from severe injuries an exoskeleton to help them recover. Moreover, Aflac has developed a social robot that comforts children undergoing cancer or sickle cell treatment and is distributing them in hospitals across the US. Such activity can bolster an insurer’s reputation and improve patients’ quality of life.
The increased deployment of robots by industries and consumers presents a growing risk exposure for insurers to cover. Robotics insurance is not yet commonplace, with insurers and regulators still needing to navigate the issue of liability in the event of a robot causing injury or damage. Drone insurance is more widely available, and insurers will continue to offer coverage as the popularity of drones increases.
However, not all companies are equal when it comes to their capabilities and investments in the key themes that matter most to their industry. Understanding how companies are positioned and ranked in the most important themes can be a key leading indicator of their future earnings potential and relative competitive position.
According to GlobalData’s thematic research report, Robotics in Insurance, leading adopters of robotics in the non-life insurance sector include: AIG, Allianz, Travelers, Chubb, Zurich, MetLife, Munich Re, Swiss Re and Farmers.
Insights from top ranked companies
In 2017, Allianz partnered with insurtech startup Flock to develop an app for commercial and recreational drone pilots to purchase pay-as-you-fly drone insurance. In 2021, Bajaj Allianz similarly partnered with TropoGo to develop another drone insurance product, with covers including damage, third-party liability, beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS), and night flying. Allianz has partnered with Droneflight to provide customers with various drone services, including drone inspection, drone training, and drone mapping. Allianz also deploys drones to inspect complex and hazardous environments.
In 2017, Swiss Re partnered with FlyIcarus, a drone insurance provider to commercial and recreational pilots, to underwrite the latter’s insurance products. This pooled their collective aviation underwriting knowledge and expanded Swiss Re’s share of the drone insurance market. Swiss Re has also been using drones for flood risk assessment. Its flood assessment tool (FLOAT) uses aerial imagery to understand better where floodwater is likely to flow in the event of a flood. The tool utilises 3D contour modelling to identify low-elevation points by simulating flood scenarios using drone data.
Zurich uses drones to speed up inspections, particularly to assist insurance claims for damaged crop fields for its Rural Community Insurance Services (RCIS) policyholders. There are high-efficiency gains to be made in this area considering the time and effort expended by walking through hundreds, sometimes thousands, of acres of land. Its drone activity is supported by its partnership with specialist drone flight company Iprosurv since 2018. Zurich has pushed its drone sustainability agenda more than some competitors, stressing the environmentally-friendly nature of drone technology. It also offers drone insurance covering first-party property coverage and third-party liability coverage, developed in partnership with Global Aerospace Underwriting Managers.
To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the insurance industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Robotics in Insurance.
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