Does New Tech Effect Insurance Rates?

New car technologies have features in common with other IoT devices of today. The more automated the vehicle, the more reliant the system is on algorithms and AI. When shopping for auto insurance, there are questions that people of today need to be prepared to ask. The more knowledge you have, the better because the old method of the rate calculation for insurance no longer applies to these new variables. 

When shopping for a new car, it’s essential to weigh the latest model’s pros and cons against how much your insurance will increase. This could be something as small as a newer design of bumper or a back-up camera. Examine the levels of insurance being offered, including the premium vs. basic levels. For some people, it’s a waste of money to purchase the higher-end policies. For others, the extra cost is worth it if repairs or maintenance are needed. Opt-in discounts are also carefully worded and must be read carefully, such as with advanced anti-theft services only being considered when merged with a comprehensive premium coverage plan. 

The Repair Cycle 

It is a cyclical process. Over the past several years, car insurance rates have increased as a result of the latest technology. In the past, you could bring a car to an auto body shop or car dealer for a simple issue, such as a cracked bumper. Nowadays, there are built-in sensors and very complex electronic components. A car with a built-in navigation center or a backup camera will require more skilled labor than the past’s standard car repair. Not only will specialized parts need to be ordered, but the labor will also increase as jobs will take longer to complete. The mechanics themselves will be trained and more technical, which will also raise their hourly rates. 

Safety Features

Despite all the exciting new safety features being touted in today’s autonomous cars, there is still much testing left to be done. In addition, humans still have the ability to override a driving system, giving them just as much control as a regular driver. Insurance companies must consider the driver as well as the vehicle, no matter how complex. The learning curve might also hinder, as humans adjust to new distractions of lights and buttons that they are not familiar with. This could slow a person’s reaction time in a crisis. 

 The Driver

Regardless of the technology you have in your car, insurance rates will also depend on you, the driver. Moving violations and accidents on your driving record will increase your rate regardless of the type of car you drive. Demographics also play into how much insurance you will pay. Rural communities have fewer vehicles on the road, which lessens the probability of accidents occurring. This substantially lowers insurance rates.

 

Why Insurance Companies Need to Embrace Emerging Technology

It would be an understatement to say that machine learning and artificial intelligence have made some type of impact on nearly every sector and industry around the globe. In addition to the energy, healthcare, real estate, and consumer goods and services markets, the influx of emerging technologies is disrupting the financial and insurance worlds as well. 

It is crucial for industries to embrace the future of a reduced human workforce and to learn how to work in collaboration with machines, not against them. The advent of machine learning and its ability to process big data will give partnered insurance companies an enormous boost over the competition that refuses to do so. The main advantage comes from a machine’s ability to read and identify massive quantities of data that a human would never be able to. In addition, the device can see patterns in the data, sort it, and predict behaviors. This means making a fair estimate of an incident’s causes, leading to a timely and unbiased assessment of damages, resulting in speedy and accurate claims processing. From a customer service perspective, this is a dream come true. 

Another way that an insurance company would benefit from emerging technology is by having a chat-bot on their website. This is a feature that is becoming increasingly more popular because of its ability to respond 24/7 to the majority of general questions for customers. In addition to making customers happy, the call centers’ employees will also be relieved of stress due to fewer anxious phone calls and an overall decrease in caller volume.

Many industries are also embracing the concept of digital portals. These are web-based platforms that combine data from multiple sources into one easily manageable location. Unlike websites designed to maximize traffic, web portals are meant to filter out the majority of visitors and only share relevant data to those with login credentials. Customers and employees can access the interface and use it to review customer data, a claim’s history, and status updates.

In general, the future of machine learning and automation will benefit the world of insurance in many ways, either by saving time, money, or aggravation. Underwriting will be handled faster and more efficiently. Claims will be filed based on a vast array of knowledge sorted by a clients’ history and predictive analysis. 

 

How Insurance Companies Are Incorporating Machine Learning

Big data is named that for a very good reason. It refers to quantities of information that are so large or complex that it’s impossible to process using traditional methods. We as a species have collected more data within the past two years than mankind has in its entire history, yet we are unable to process it sufficiently. The variety of industries that are offering up data are constantly growing, including electrical engineering, telecommunications, vehicular technology, social media, voice analytics, connected sensors and wearable devices.

One of the great things about machine learning is its ability to handle big data like this. Machine learning takes a large amount of information and detects meaningful patterns. From there, it can make predictions at a rate of speed and accuracy that far surpasses humans. Machine learning and its ability to adapt is being used in almost every industry nowadays and the world of insurance is no exception.

Auto insurance is all about data when it comes to claims and premiums. When a driver seeks to purchase auto insurance, there are a number of factors that are considered, and the higher a person’s risk factor, the more it translates into real-world decisions like the costs of premiums.

Most insurance companies are only able to process 10 to 15 percent of the data they receive. This data is stagnant and stored in databases. This structured data is not used to its full potential, and it doesn’t display any predictive modeling behavior. Machine learning provides the boost they need to face their competition and enhance customer satisfaction. AI is also being explored in other departments as well, such as underwriting, fraud detection, and loss prevention.

Ultimately, direct machine-to-human interaction will begin from the moment the first interaction occurs between the customer and the insurance company. On the front-end, 24/7 chatbots have made it easier for potential customers to have answers at the ready, as well as existing customers filing claims. All while freeing up in-house employees to focus on other tasks. On the back-end, clients receive personalised products that are created by machine learning algorithms that have tailor-made packages based on users’ profiles.

The ultimate goal is to combine the Internet of Things (IoT) to share omnipresent data in an open source platform. This would apply to everything from smart homes to smart cars to the healthcare industry. 20 percent of companies have departments solely dedicated to guide and monitor the progress of machine learning.  

The Safety of Self-Driving Cars

Perhaps one of the biggest concerns about the migration over to self-driving cars is the safety factor. Many questions are being raised about the issue of ethics. While a computer can make lightning-fast decisions based on data and logic, the recurring fear is that, as a machine, it cannot possibly make the same type of life-affecting moral decision that a human can. For this reason, many studies are being done to determine whether it really is safer to have an AI system behind the wheel.

Research published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration division of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT NHTSA) found that the majority of all car crashes between 2005 and 2007 were the result of driver error, as opposed to a malfunction. Driver distraction and/or impairment caused 94% of the crashes. In order to be deemed safe, therefore, an automated system would just have to have better numbers than humans.

Testing has been a bit of a contentious issue since real-world scenarios are hard to employ without putting people in danger. There are test runs being done by companies such as Google, who are showing huge strides with their focus being on driver assistance, rather than car manufacturing. What began as a self-driving car project, their offshoot company, Waymo, has partnered with several major car developers to enhance their own cars for automation. 

If data analysts focus on the issue of driver error due to impairment and/or distraction, there will undoubtedly be fewer instances of alcohol- or drug-impaired driving when the human is removed from the equation. Within the next few years, safety testing will advance to real-world situations in order to help with the machine learning process. Tesla’s latest model has received high marks for safety tests. In order to earn its five-start rating, the Model 3 not only had to show good overall performance in crash protection but also display superior and robust crash avoidance technology.

That being said, all computing systems are vulnerable to hacks, and cyber protection will have to be at unprecedented levels in order to prevent malicious external cyberattacks from occurring. 

Insurance Technology Trends

There are several trends that are making a huge impact on the auto insurance industry. Some of these include maximizing efficiency, attracting fresh talent to the industry, and making people’s data more secure. 

AI

Artificial Intelligence has the ability to completely transform the insurance industry in areas from productivity and customer service, to security. New functions that focus on fraud protection help not only the insurance providers but also the customers who follow the rules. Robo-advisors are on the horizon which will save both clients and underwriters unnecessary wait times. The development of 24/7 chatbots has already been well-received for common user questions.  While humans are still working in tandem with machines, it is no secret that companies need to embrace this technology in order to survive in their industry. One example of AI already at work is CARPE DATA, which gathers real-time data and uses it for predictive scoring for every stage of an insurance lifecycle, including claims. Shift Technology is a company that focuses on fraud detection specifically for the insurance industry. 

Blockchain

Blockchain maintains the same advantage as the World Wide Web, in that there is no main point of control. Blockchain technology acts like a virtual ledger that records all transactions in a secure, unchangeable way. It takes the place of having a third verification party for each transaction, thereby saving the insurance company money which in turn, gets passed down to customers. Using this technology, insurers can quickly verify credentials, historical data, and contracts. It is also nearly impossible to duplicate, because of it’s multi-level verification transparency. It is a perfect fit for apps like Teambrella, who apply the democratic notion of insurance and filing claims. They support the concept of teamwork being part of every decision. Users cover each other and vote on payouts and premiums, as opposed to being presented with a limited number of options to choose from. Blockchain technology is used to securely handle all payments put all minds at ease. Lemonade makes full use of AI and blockchain technology to call themselves the home, rental, and pet health insurance provider for the 21st Century. The philanthropic arm of the firm also donates a portion of profits to various causes.

 

Machine Learning Transforming Insurance

The insurance industry is by far heavily dependent upon statistics and analytics. It thrives on data. By examining a variety of data and looking for patterns, they are able to predict probabilities. This helps insurance providers create personalized risk profiles, which are used to drive an individual’s premiums and payout amounts, among many other factors. Machine learning has taken away some of the tedium involved in data gathering and investigating insurance fraud, in addition to helping the insured get the help they need. 

Common sense dictates that the best protection against danger is prevention. Vision Zero is the goal of a worldwide zero-tolerance policy for traffic deaths and injuries. Many companies are on the path towards accomplishing it thru AI. Zendrive is a mobile app that monitors customers’ driving behavior. Through the use of sensors, it can help detect potential collisions, track phone use while driving and help the driver avoid drifting, among other features. It can also use this data to reward good drivers with auto insurance discounts. 

Despite all precautions, sometimes accidents do happen. When a claim is filed, it typically passes through checkpoints as it moves through the processing system. When it’s all human-controlled it can be a lengthy process. The advent of machine learning has automated the process for many standard claims, which frees up the system to concentrate on the ones that need more time for investigation.

Healthcare underwriting is another area that has benefitted greatly by a data-driven approach because of the cost of diseases, accidents, disabilities, and death. Daisy Intelligence uses artificial intelligence to suggest prices based on individual risk profiles.

One roadblock in any human-to-computer interaction is the difficulty in parsing human handwriting into usable data. Captricity uses an algorithm called READ that is able to read and extract data from both handwritten or typed forms with 99.9% accuracy. Lemonade is a carrier that uses AI to process all of their claims quickly and efficiently, providing customers with faster payouts. 

In addition to saving money for both the clients and the insurance carriers, AI-propelled chatbots can provide 24/7 customer care service to the majority of questions people need to be answered in a hurry. When it comes time to choose an insurance plan, customers can use AI resources to narrow down their choices to match the best plan for themselves and their families.  Not only does this free up phone lines during business hours, but it also goes a long way towards relieving people’s anxiety about claims, billing, and payouts. 

Updating Your Business’s Best Practices

When people discuss the best practices of a business, they are usually describing the policies, ideas, and ethics that represent the most sensible course of action in any given business situation. The best practices of a company are usually decided upon by a company’s management team and they are created to fix problems in the most prudent way possible. In addition, best practices are in place to encourage positive employee morale and to help people succeed.

Deciding on which best practices you intend to follow as a business should be something you as a management team agree upon during the earliest stages of company creation. It is tied in very closely with a company’s culture and how freely the employees feel they can come to their leaders with issues or for guidance. Employee engagement is one of the most important practices, as it makes them feel like they are a part of the company. Holding all-hands meetings to announce when changes occur and then giving employees the opportunity to ask any follow-up questions is a great motivator. Highlighting good performance by giving shout outs and honoring employees of the month are other ways of recognizing the efforts of your team members.

 In addition to hosting meetings, a good rule of thumb is to get employee feedback every few months on how they feel best practices are being used. As a leader, it is your job to be open to critique and suggestions without taking any of it personally, so ask the right questions that will really encourage people to give constructive answers. Most importantly, let them see that you take suggestions seriously by incorporating effective changes in the workplace and showing consistent enforcement.

If a major update is going to take place, it’s important to make sure that everyone is involved when it is announced. The last thing you want is for some people to not be alerted to an announcement and find it out through other channels. All people should be notified at the same time. Introduce change slowly and with plenty of time for training. All change will come with a learning curve. 

9 Reasons Why Low Employee Engagement Will Bleed Your Company Dry

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Employee engagement is the quality of the dynamic between an employee and the employer. The engagement is considered high when the employees are enthusiastic about their work, and aid in the expansion of the goals. Disengagement occurs when one employee or more are negatively impacted and decide to do and act on their own accord without caring for the common goal.

As a leader, you must be prepared for these situations. You should plan for prevention, as well as for consequences. If you do not think this is important enough, read nine reasons why low engagement will bleed your company dry.

1. Profitability: When one slows down, it all slows down.

Think merchandise. Think selling. Think time limits and quotas. A disengaged employee, in the field of sales, for example, will cause a loss of 22% as far as incoming earnings, according to a 2013 Gallup Poll. Disengagement slows down the dynamics of the selling process by disregarding marketing cues, ignoring potential customers, and stalling the very important opportunities that surface during negotiation.

This translates into financial loss and poor customer service. In turn, this can also transform into poor word-to-mouth reputation once unhappy customers start to speak to one another.

2. Productivity

In any field, from manufacturing to news reporting, disengagement means slowing down the important communication processes that most take place when employees work in cyclical work environments. Think what would happen if one step out of a series of 13, 100, prevents the rest of the cycle to be completed. It means loss of profits due to low production, or slow production.

Aside from production of goods, the productivity of a disengaged employee does not amount to the common goal of an organization. It is either poor quality, incomplete, or lackluster. Having a plan of action that rewards those who are engaged in productivity may be the solution that all leaders need.

3. Safety incidents 

We blame text messaging for many car accidents out there. But lack of attention is not limited to driving or crossing the street. A disengaged employee is likely to make assumptions about everything, from what is expected of employees, to how things are done. Contrastingly, an engaged employee is on alert at all times, partly, because alertness is one of the qualities that pays most attention to details. Not being in tandem with the purpose of working is what causes all safety to go awry, and what ends up costing the company time, replacements, medical care, absences, and much more.

4. Absenteeism

Disengaged employees only care about themselves, and about how the work environment benefits them. They also tend to think more about what they can get away with, rather than what they can do better. A disengaged employee may also be unmotivated to even go to work. It is all a part of the same thing. Leaders must pay attention to lack of motivation, as this is actually a very easy fix situation that can be arranged with a points or incentive system.

5. Quality issues

There cannot be good quality in production or manufacturing if there is no attention to detail. In order to achieve this attention, one must be focused and motivated to make something well done. Disengaged employees are not going to spend the extra time paying attention to detail; therefore, the quality of the final production may or may not be what leaders expect.

6. Shrinkage

Disengaged employees are likely to want to disengage others. This is a terrible influence that, in gullible and weaker employees, may turn into the “rotten apple” syndrome, where one person affects all the other ones negatively. When more than one employee is disenchanted with the work environment, they will inevitably leave it, or switch to another place. This means a shrinkage in your work force, sometimes losing employees who are actually good.

7. Property loss

We are all familiar with the prototype employee who loves to “supply” their home offices, or kitchen cabinets, with products from the work place. Engaged employees are very unlikely to engaged in unethical practices such as this one. Disengaged employees could really care less. Pay close attention because property loss equals money loss.

8. Unethical behavior

When disengagement comes from pure lack of work ethics, there is no motivation that will ever fix that. Pay close attention to behaviors that touch upon fraternization, excess familiarities, potential harassment, lateness or absenteeism. The results from this include loss, low productivity, potential law suits, low motivation, and overall disengagement from employees who are affected by those behaviors.

9. Unnecessary stress

A stressful work environment, caused by disengaged employees, will bleed a company dry. First, the culture and atmosphere of the work environment will be negatively impacted and will likely result in less enthusiastic production. Second, employees will be divided and grouped, breaking the overall balance of the workplace. Finally, it may cause added absences and could lead to people quitting, also causing loses to the organization.

Conclusion: Pay close attention to the cues of disengaged employees. Put a pan in place, whether it is to prevent disengagement or encourage motivation through incentives. Ultimately, it is the organization that pays the price. It is better to be safe than sorry.

How To Build A Strong Company Culture

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Best Practices: Email Marketing

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Email has become one of the main methods of communication in the business world. Whether you are communicating within your office or sending an email across the world, it has become a form of communication that brings us together.

Email is also an integral component of any marketing campaign, yet many marketers struggle when it comes to optimizing their brand’s potential through this channel. When composing an email — be it an e-newsletter, promotion, transactional email or announcement — there are a few best practices to follow.


Email Best Practices:

Subject Line

  • Keep it under 50 characters
  • Including incentives in the subject line can increase your open rates by 50% !!!
  • 35% of email recipients open email based on the subject line

Call to Action

  • Only use a single call to action per email
  • Don’t hide it inside an image, because your audience may miss it.
  • Call to action should be as big bold and obvious as possible
  • 55% of recipients will forward emails with promotions and coupons

Visuals

  • Include images when appropriate
  • Make sure they are sized properly
  • When images are too big, they can significantly slow down the load time, causing people to potentially delete the message before even reading it
  • Place your logo in the top left corner
  • Less text brings the reader to your call-to-action sooner

Content

  • Only deliver relevant information to consumers
  • Segment your email lists by interest

Mobile Optimization

  • Make sure your emails are always optimized for mobile devices
  • 70 million US consumers check email on mobile devices and this rate is constantly increasing

Email Regularly

  • Always email from the same address
  • Don’t overdo it
  • 47% of recipients opt-out because of receiving too many emails
  • Give subscribers the option to receive mobile optimized email

After considering all the factors listed here, always remember to test your emails thoroughly on all devices to make sure it is compatible. It is also a good idea to run a few tests on different emails that relay the same message, to see what your customers are best responding to.