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CES 2017: Liberty Mutual Goes API, AI , and Gamify

January 04, 2017

Insurance company Liberty Mutual announced today it is launching an open API developer portal combining public data with proprietary insurance knowledge.  New apps using the APIs should be able to help consumers do everything from finding safe driving routes to assessing car damage with a smartphone camera.

“We introduced this initiative to develop products and services that benefit everyone and ultimately help drivers make informed choices and feel less worry on the road.” said Ted Kwartler, assistant vice president, Innovation, at Liberty Mutual Insurance. “We expect to deliver new value to the community with a focus on improving safety by combining our expertise and insights while employing emerging technology.”  

Solaria Labs, Liberty Mutual’s innovation incubator, plans the launch of the developer portal later this year.  It will aggregate public data on auto theft, parking citations as well as crashes using proprietary insurance information.  After signing up, developers and Big Data wonks can analyze the aggregated data to identify such things as the safest driving routes and places to park in major U.S. cities.

Providing the comprehensive collection of data is expected to fuel the development of future apps to improve safety for both drivers and passengers.    Liberty Mutual is demoing one experimental app to enable auto owners to gauge damage to their car in real-time and receive a recommendation on repair costs leveraging their smartphone camera. Using artificial intelligence, the new feature would be based on thousands of car crash photos.  

The developer portal is spearheaded by Solaria Labs, the company’s in-house technology incubator founded in September 2015. The lab has partnered with universities, including MIT AgeLab, to fund research and participate in relevant discoveries on new trends, including next generation vehicles, the sharing economy, and connected home products that enable real-time connectivity in the areas of security, efficiency, safety and convenience.

One of those “relevant discoveries” not highlighted in the announcement is Solaria’s work with artificial intelligence (AI).  Edward Kwartler, a Solaria Labs member, said the lab is working on training neural networks to do repair estimates from cell phone photographs.  In the not-so-far-off future, customers will be able to get automatic automated repair estimates from pictures they take themselves via app, giving them an instant estimate.  Currently, human beings assess damage, which means time to pull up and look at photos, then file a request.  An AI-powered automated cost estimate means lower costs for Liberty and faster claims for customers.

Gamification is a big deal in call centers, but it has been applied to insurance estimates and lowering rates with Liberty Mutual’s new, free HighwayHero app. The app tracks and scores driving behavior, providing feedback after trips so the app is never a distraction. Users can track their progress, see how they stack up against other local drivers on city leaderboards and win achievement badges such as “Safest Driver.” Drivers in 16 states are currently eligible for discounts from Liberty Mutual based on their scores. There’s also an option to run the app for two weeks in a “try before you buy” mode so consumers can self-monitor their own driving habits and compare potential Liberty Mutual rates against what they are currently getting.

Edited by Alicia Young

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