Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning remain two of the most talked about technologies across virtually every industry. And with good reason. AI and machine learning solutions are capable of helping organizations automate mundane, repetitive tasks by effectively teaching machines to handle them.
As part of the digital revolution of the insurance industry, and the rapid emergence and adoption of insurtech solutions, there is a new generation of AI solutions entering the marketplace that are designed to disrupt antiquated and ineffective insurance processes and, instead, replace them with smarter, faster and more effective ones.
One of the exciting and innovative new startup companies working to bring AI into the insurance marketplace is Flyreel, which recently announced that it would be working with Microsoft to bring its underwriting AI solution to market and make it available for insurance companies. Build on the Microsoft Azure cloud, Flyreel uses computer vision and AI to make underwriting less “hands on” and more efficient.
To learn more about the solution, what this alliance with Microsoft means and why AI is a great fit for the insurance industry, we sat down with Cole Winans, Flyreel’s CEO. Here is what he had to say:
Insurance Tech Insider (ITI): In what part of the insurance customer journey does Flyreel’s solution play a role?
Cole Winans: Flyreel transforms the entire customer journey, beginning with underwriting. Our solution helps P&C carriers offer customers the right coverage at the right price.
Using our proprietary computer vision technology and machine learning, our AI assistant guides users through an initial underwriting inspection while creating a comprehensive report of a commercial or residential property, including its contents, in real time. Carriers get access to valuable data faster and more efficiently during the underwriting process, positioning them to better serve their customers while managing their risk exposure.
Beyond underwriting, Flyreel unlocks new customer engagement opportunities around joint risk management, resinspection and claims. Our AI assistant is adaptive and configurable, meaning that it can be positioned to assist users through reinspections, claims filing and more.
ITI: How does Flyreel’s AI solution help underwriters? What role does AI play in enabling this?
Cole Winans: Today, many carriers insure properties sight unseen, providing coverage based on averages that may or may not reflect the property’s true risk. Or, carriers send an inspector to the property, which can delay coverage as the evaluation process can take up to 60 days from the time you schedule to the time you receive the inspection report.
We use our patent-pending computer vision and machine learning technology to quickly capture and catalog home and business assets as well as interior and exterior property details (not including the roof). Flyreel adapts to each property’s unique conditions, guiding users through the underwriting process using insurance-specific computer vision to create a detailed baseline record of the property and its contents. This accelerates the inspection process and improves coverage accuracy.
“Digital transformation” is a popular buzzword in the insurance industry today. Our goal isn’t merely to leverage technology to support existing processes — it’s to create new, more efficient ways to conduct business. Flyreel enables true digital transformation with new processes that improve underwriting accuracy, eliminate pain points related to inspections, and increase customer satisfaction through transparency and personalization.
ITI: Is Flyreel intuitive to use? Does it require any special training?
Flyreel was built from the ground up to be easy-to-use and requires no special training. As user experience experts, our team designed the interface with the comfort of policyholders, carriers and brokers in mind.
The solution uses a smartphone camera and friendly chatbot to guide users through the process — just as an expert inspector with great people skills would. Behind the scenes, the AI-enabled solution consistently delivers a high quality, next generation customer experience.
ITI: What is the user experience like for underwriters? What is the process like? How is the information displayed?
Cole Winans: The underwriter sends a link to the end user, who can be a customer or third-party. The end user taps the link to download and activate the inspection process on their iPhone or Android device.
For underwriters, it’s like sending their best expert into the field to conduct an inspection — without the hassles of scheduling an appointment or waiting for a report to be submitted. Inspection information is transmitted back to the underwriter in real time, as the end user walks through the property.
Underwriters receive a visually immersive, detail-rich, web-based report that can be integrated into their system or viewed online at any time. As the end user is guided through the underwriting process, our AI-powered assistant consistently captures valuable, high-quality data that provides unprecedented visibility into conditions on the ground.
ITI: How does Flyreel impact the customer experience? How can it improve CX and increase retention for insurance carriers?
Cole Winans: We’re seeing an increased demand from customers for more do-it-yourself and self-service tools. One of the benefits of Flyreel is that cataloging your most important assets becomes as simple as scanning the room with your smartphone. The AI and computer vision do all of the hard work.
In addition to being easy to use, Flyreel fundamentally improves the customer experience by increasing transparency and delivering peace of mind. Instead of issuing coverage based on estimates or averages, Flyreel allows carriers to base policies on a comprehensive assessment of the customer’s property and contents. Customers receive appropriate coverage and pricing, and they can get quotes faster.
In the event of a claim, customers can receive faster resolution that contains no surprises since their property and inventory have been accurately documented prior. In the aftermath of a traumatic event like a natural disaster or fire, the last thing customers need is a resolution that disappoints them. Flyreel eliminates unpleasant surprises that can cause disappointment and churn.
An increase in retention is only one of the benefits carriers can receive from using Flyreel. Brokers who use Flyreel can focus less on mundane or burdensome tasks like scheduling inspections and waiting for reports. This allows them to focus on more strategic tasks, such as working with customers to obtain the right type and amount of coverage, and reduce risks.
ITI: Is the Flyreel solution available on the market? How are insurers looking to use Flyreel?
Cole Winans: Flyreel is available in market now.
We’ve been talking to people across the insurance industry – carriers, brokers, agents, inspectors and MGAs. There’s tremendous interest in addressing the problem of insufficient information. Some of the most exciting conversations have been with the insurance carriers.
While we knew there would be interest from the underwriting teams, we’ve received a lot of attention from teams in claims, innovation, technology, product management and strategic ventures. A common theme in each conversation is the ability to provide an incredible amount of data and insights, through an easy-to-use application.
Cole Winans: Being involved with Microsoft has been a game-changer for Flyreel. First and foremost, Microsoft is a trusted technology partner to some of the largest carriers in the U.S. and globally. Our relationship has unlocked access to key decision-makers at some of the top insurance carrier organizations, leading to incredible insights that have helped shape our product.
The relationship with Microsoft began as a chance meeting at an industry conference. We started talking and quickly realized the opportunities of working together. Several of Microsoft’s clients had expressed needs for insurance-specific computer vision as well as better, more robust insights detailing the properties they’re insuring. Our solution was a natural fit.
Beyond the industry insights and access to Microsoft customers, they’ve provided technical resources that have allowed us to scale more rapidly to get to market significantly faster than we would have on our own. Microsoft has given us access to their best and brightest across insurance, engineering, product development, sales and marketing.
ITI: Flyreel was built on the Microsoft Azure Cloud. What role are cloud solutions like Azure playing in getting AI solutions to market? How are they driving the continued evolution and adoption of AI?
Cole Winans: Azure enables Flyreel to rapidly scale our proprietary, insurance-specific computer vision with the infrastructure and cloud-based compute power that’s required for a robust AI system. By using Azure, we’re able to easily scale and drag-and-drop a ready-made infrastructure for our customers with unprecedented ease and efficiency.
As we continue training our computer vision, we’re using Azure to affordably manage our datasets. This helps us streamline continuous machine learning and improvement. Azure’s flexible pricing and ability to “right-size” our platform as we scale up and down helps Flyreel manage our costs.
ITI: What do you envision for Flyreel in the future? What added functionality/capability is the company looking to add to the solution? What additional ways would you like to see Flyreel’s solution fitting into the insurance process and lifecycle in the future?
Cole Winans: At Flyreel, we see an unprecedented opportunity to help insurers improve and automate the core tenants of their businesses so that they can be less “heads down” and more “heads up,” interacting with and serving their customers to the best of their ability.
We have no interest in simply digitizing old, inefficient processes for the sake of digitizing them. Instead, we are and will continue to be focused on applying the best of today’s technology to reimagine and redefine business operations in ways that provide new efficiency and business value to carriers and their customers.
We’re laser-focused on improving the insurance experience for all parties by introducing smart automation that continuously improves through machine learning. Our insurance-specific computer vision becomes more robust each day as it views more properties and contents, opening up a number of opportunities for our customers and their businesses. There’s a lot to look forward to.