Your Insurance Reality, Augmented

Michael Spiar, Broker Relations & Communications Specialist | Saskatchewan Insurance Broker, July 2016

Many emerging technologies haven’t yet achieved wide popularity, but nonetheless have immense potential to change the P&C insurance industry – and augmented reality (AR) is one example that brokers should keep an eye on. AR superimposes computer generated information on a live image, providing users with information that  supplements their view of the real world. 

AR for Consumers

A 2015 Forrester survey shows that 65% of P&C insured Canadians use a smartphone and 47% use a tablet, providing many opportunities for the broker channel to think outside the box when it comes to mobile apps for policy management and claims filing. European insurer Allianz did just that when it commissioned an AR app for current and potential policyholders. Users simply point their tablet’s camera anywhere inside their home, and the app detects which object it sees and generates an on-screen simulation showing the risks associated with that object. This type of strong, memorable imagery resonates with consumers and may prompt them to review their coverage.

As we at CSIO advocate for paperless environments, we especially admire Hyundai’s innovative AR Virtual Guide app. Launched in late 2015, it replaces the paper car owner’s manual by allowing owners to point their smartphone or tablet camera at any part of the car and overlaying the image on screen with practical information, such as how to replace the car’s air filter. AR apps such as this could help consumers go paperless, and it is easy to imagine how an app of this sort could apply to insurance, such as simply pointing a smartphone at a vehicle to renew or update its insurance policy.

AR for the Insurance Industry

AR apps could also benefit insurance professionals working in the field to help them record and analyze their environment in real time. A Polish software firm, for example, developed an app that uses AR for precise car damage inspection. The app take a visual image of a damaged car and quickly overlays damage area measurements, dent damage detection and even a repair cost estimate for the adjuster, leading to improved customer service through faster claims processing.

And 17% of Canadian online adults aged 18 to 35 use wearable devices, including 18% of the highest-earning consumers, who have a household income of $100,000 or more (Forrester). AR technology is often integrated into wearables, such as with Microsoft’s HoloLens, announced in 2015. HoloLens is a smart-glasses headset that uses a natural user interface, meaning that users interact with 3D graphics and screens overlaid on their environment through gaze, voice and hand gestures.

Brokers and adjusters in the field could easily benefit from HoloLens, overlaying their live view of a buildingwith relevant data such as its fire district, tenants, current premiums, exposures, etc.

AR for Employee Training

AR technology can even be used for employee training purposes, and Zurich Insurance has already taken advantage of this opportunity. In 2015, Zurich launched an AR smartphone app for over 10,000 of its managers in 170 countries to improve their coaching, project management and people management skills. The app is used during classroom-based training sessions, where managers can point their phones at a poster or a ‘learning card’ that takes them to a video, an online training course, or a book with more in-depth information. Providing this AR technology allows Zurich to meet the unique needs of their managers, including visual, aural, reading/writing, or kinesthetic.

Brokerages could use this to their advantage as well, using an AR device or app that shows a new hire or recent graduate the ins and outs of a brokerage in a more engaging, in-depth manner than a basic tour through the office can provide. Brokers should start thinking about how innovative technologies such as AR could support their business, both from workflow efficiency and customer service perspectives. To get yourself thinking about other types of technology that have ‘wowed’ insurance professionals, check out CSIO’s Technology Eye-Opener video series, available at