We realized that most of the cars getting repaired were going through auto insurance rather than paying out of pocket, so we started meeting with carriers and listening to the problems they had. We realized that our technology fit perfectly hand in hand with that. We proposed to a couple chief claims officers implanting a solution with us, and they jumped all over it. Back in 2012, the evolution of smart phones and smart phone adoption were still very early on. We’re much more advanced in smart phones today than we were back then.
We pretty much plug straight into carriers’ existing processes. We allow the insurance carriers to assign us work to get estimates. We propose to the customer through our contact center to either use a self-service branded application for that carrier to take its own photos of the vehicle or a crowd-sourced photo inspection network, or we’ll work directly with any body shop. Our technology enables us to capture photos through different ways, but primarily it’s through the branded self-service app. The customers never really know that we exist.
Everything is white-labeled for that carrier, from the call scripting to the design of the application. We capture photos from that customer, and then the bulk of our Snapsheet employees write auto repair estimates. We have a bunch of checks and balances and technology to make sure that estimate is accurate and then provide the estimate back to the customer, back to the insurance carrier and then back to a shop. Then, we negotiate all the repairs with the shop if the car does end up getting repaired. We provide virtual touchless claims. The customer falls within the carrier’s brand, and the carrier doesn’t have to worry about anything. They let us and our technology take over the claim.
By the time the carriers realized they had underinvested in claims, it became kind of a scramble. The customers were demanding virtual channels. The carrier infrastructure and processes simply couldn’t handle it. Insurance carriers were finally forced to come to the realization that the customer interacts with them during a claim and sometimes that’s the only time they interact with them for a long time. You have to do everything you can to make that experience good, because even if you control your expenses in that claim but you churn that customer out, you have to pay to get a new customer. You can see what the carriers are interested in—things like chatbots, visual recognition, anything that helps streamline the process and the cost of their operations while increasing customer satisfaction.
What matters is to help optimize certain functions. From a technology perspective and claims, you’re going to see more adoption of virtual like we do. Probably less than 2% of the auto claims market is adjusted that way. The whole industry has to reset itself onto this new virtual infrastructure, and that’s going to take years to do in insurance. For years, carriers will be catching up to those kinds of platforms.
I don’t see a world where the insurance carriers—as much as they’re trying—tie all the pieces together. I think it’s much better for third parties to put everything together. Then, it can be distributed to everyone in the industry. It’s all going to come down to the application inside the carrier workflows.