Published on the 24/08/2017 | Written by Donovan Jackson
Industry newcomer tackles traditional bugbears with tech…
The Insurance Council of Australia estimates the cost of fraud at up to $2 billion per year – costs which are passed on to consumers. And with much of the insurance industry still stuck in an analogue world of paper forms, there’s ample opportunity for fraudsters to slip through the cracks.
At least, that’s what the founders of Huddle, a year-old startup, will have you believe. Co-founders, Jason Wilby and Jonathan Buck said they saw an opportunity to use technology to disrupt the traditional insurance industry, reduce fraud, and regain consumer trust.
In a statement, Wilby said: “While so many people depend on insurance, most people don’t like insurance companies and don’t trust them. It also goes the other way – there are so many incidents of fraud that insurance companies don’t always trust customers either. So, we asked ourselves, how do we bring it back to its roots and to the community? The answer is by using technology to reduce fraud and rebuild that trust”.
Huddle’s platform, the company said, automates claims assessment and insurance processes. Pushing the right hype buttons, it said its Instant Claims software ‘uses AI technology to simplify and automate the claims process’.
Buck said: “We’re more of a technology company than an insurance company because so much of our work is focused on continuously improving our platform. Digitising everything was key to helping us tackle fraud. It means we can automate our fraud management processes and even use other sources of structured data to cross-check the validity of claims. It also means that we’ve taken any human bias out of the claims process – the computer checks your claim and can approve it in less than 60 seconds.”
Impressive, certainly, but not unprecedented. Disruption in the insurance industry has a poster child, Lemonade, which recently laid claim to a world record in, well, paying out a claim. Three seconds, apparently, although at least one online publication was motivated to take a closer look at that, er, claim.
In any event, Huddle said it has ambitious targets to shake up the insurance industry, ‘seeking to deconstruct and democratise the traditional financial sector’.
It said its business model focuses on removing barriers to trust – including conflicts of interests, human bias and the imbalance of power as large organisations dominate the sector.
As Wilby put it, “Our model is designed to be simple for a reason – we want members to understand our business and make it clear that we won’t profit from making it hard for them to use our services and by denying claims. We take a fixed fee, pay claims fast and give surplus profits to causes our members care about.”
Huddle said it has around 10,000 members, with ‘excess profits’ (that is the surplus funds from low claims) donated to a range of charity and community groups, as chosen by members.
Aiming for the socially conscious, who clearly don’t believe the very act of providing a service which the market finds valuable is itself ‘doing good’, Huddle said it ‘is part of a growing movement of organisations in Australia and around the world committed to the idea that businesses can be a force for good’. Good.
“Just because we’re more digital doesn’t mean we’re less human. We are focused on prioritising social purpose alongside profit and making sure we’re not depersonalising the experience for our members,” said the founders.