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Insurance managed by chatbot

03 Nov 2017

A Kiwi start-up insurance company plans to use chat-bot technology to allow people to apply for insurance and make a claim via their mobile phone.

Chat-bots are computer programs that mimic conversation with people using artificial intelligence.

They aim to transform the way you interact with the internet from a series of self-initiated tasks to a quasi-conversation.

Internationally, chatbots in the insurance industry have enabled claims to be paid in as little as 3 seconds, and policies purchased in just 90 seconds.

Andrew Coon, chief executive and one of three co-founders of Cove Insurance, wants to use the technology to move insurance from being a series of form filling exercises to a much more user-friendly experience.

Coon, who is the son of Chris Coon who helped found New Zealand life insurers Sovereign and Partners Life and is on the board of the start-up, said and he and his brother Rob, another co-founder, had grown up around insurance.

But more recently the brothers had come back from Europe where they were with insurance start-up Finance Fox and they were looking to use a technology approach to insurance.

The pair point to the success of US insurance start-up Lemonade which has used chat-bot technology to speed up claims.

"Lemonade in New York is a good example of the sort of thing we would like to achieve."

Coon said consumer research pointed to claims being both the best and worst thing about dealing with insurers.

Lemonade promises to pay out claims within three seconds and Coon believes it is plausible that Cove Insurance will be able to offer the same service here for straightforward claims.

The company plans to launch in the first quarter of next year and will focus on providing car, house and contents insurance, with an initial focus on one of those areas.

Coon said it hoped to use a lot of artificial intelligence technology, including image recognition.

Photos of people would allow the company to identify customers, and work out their age and general health.

Photos of a car would help it pre-populate data based on number plate details and photos of contents could help with working out how much an item was worth and with prevention of dishonesty claims.

Coon said Cove hoped to tap into a growing proportion of the population that did not want to speak to a person on the phone, although people will also be able to speak to a person if they want to.

“Initially we are looking at offering insurance products that will be clear and easy to understand, easy to manage, and simple to purchase” explained Head of Product, Rob.

“Early feedback from consumer testing on our next range of insurance products has been extremely positive, and we look forward to introducing them to New Zealanders in 2018.”

"I think a younger market will naturally gravitate towards it," he said.

The company will partner with a yet to be announced significant player in the insurance industry who would have all the capital and licensing requirements needed.

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