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Enabling future technologies


in future technologies





The success of the insurance and long-term savings industry helps boost the British economy now but also enables us to invest in new technologies that will secure Britain’s future prosperity. Just as insurers have been funding long-term, major infrastructure projects for decades, so they are investing in new technologies and start-ups that are transforming the UK’s economy and society.

From virtual reality simulations of oil rigs, to drones in agriculture, to the use of Machine Learning to lower stress for patients, insurers and their investment arms like AXA Strategic Ventures and Aviva Ventures are funding start-ups and spin-outs and helping them apply their technology to the challenges facing both companies and ordinary families across the country.

Spotlight on Future Technologies:

Investing in technology that improves lives

Technology is increasingly focused on devices that talk to us and each other, making our lives more efficient and seamless. Insurers like Zurich are using Internet of Things technology to detect and solve problems in the infrastructure in housing estates.

Reducing risk through gamification and Virtual Reality

Insurers are using high-tech visualisation tools – like Virtual Reality – to demonstrate to clients risks in their businesses and how they can be handled in a crisis. For instance, managing risks such as fire on oils rigs.

Funding research and the ideas of tomorrow

Insurers like AXA are funding academic research into future risks and also innovative new ideas and products – e.g., the application of Artificial Intelligence techniques that track lifestyle choices and encourage healthier living. 

View the whole story

Investing in technology that improves lives

Zurich Municipal Housing recently piloted Internet of Things technology with a housing association in Hampshire to detect issues in homes such a leaking pipes or damp. In a 10 week pilot the technology detected faults in five out of seven homes. Zurich is now looking at rolling this out across its business so that essential maintenance can be done before homes see costly damage.

In 2013, Direct Line Group partnered with a Birmingham technology company, TrakM8, to be the first UK insurer to create cutting-edge small hardware units that could be installed by the consumer in their cars. The black boxes automatically collect data on driving behaviour, vehicle health, and journey data. This has allowed Direct Line Group to reduce insurance premiums by up to 40 per cent and give customers vital insight into their vehicle’s performance. Through its partnership with Direct Line Group, TrakM8 has been able to swiftly develop cutting edge technology that has enabled it to attract new clients, grow significantly as a company and put the UK at the forefront of the global telematics market.

Reducing risk through gamification and Virtual Reality

Insurance and long-term savings companies are using the techniques developed in the gaming world – including the latest in Virtual Reality – to help individuals and companies deal with risk.  

Spotlight on Risk Room

Zurich risk room shows companies a 3-D simulation of how different risks interplay in different countries or regions around the world. It tracks 113 country risks in 174 countries on a monthly basis, with historical data going back to January 2007.

Zurich is now experimenting with how Virtual Reality might support risk management – for example training people to manage the dangers of offshore oil rigs before they get on site.

Spotlight on We Call Shotgun

Direct Line Group has developed an app called Shotgun aimed at drivers aged 25 and under who have just passed their test. The app is free to download and use and monitors driving performance, rewarding safer driving in a gaming platform where users compete against their friends.

The app's design and its social media based marketing specifically targets males aged 17-19 who are statistically most likely to drive dangerously whilst believing they are fully in control. The app lasts until drivers clock up their first 1,000 miles. 

Funding research and the ideas of tomorrow

AXA has given €20m to UK academics to conduct innovative scientific research into environmental, life, and socioeconomic risks of the future and is funding up to 25 Postdoc fellowships for outstanding researchers in 2017.

AXA Strategic Ventures – AXA’s investment fund – is also driving the application of AI to health and wellbeing. It recently added the London company BioBeats to its portfolio: a machine learning platform that delivers insights about the wellbeing of individuals in real-time. It uses extensive scientific research to build products that use heart rate variability, brain function, sleep, and physical activity to help you spot harmful patterns and adapt.

Supporting disruptors

Many insurers are directly investing in the growing number of InsurTech start-ups that are disrupting the industry and using technology to give consumers an even better deal. 

Spotlight on Trov

Trov is a new start-up insurance platform that offers the first 'on-demand' insurance. Consumers can insure specific items, for a specific period of time, all from their mobile phone. AXA invested in and partnered with Trov in November 2016 to respond to the changing needs of the mobile generation.

Insurers are also involved in InsurTech London, which gives new tech firms advice and mentorship through an accelerator programme, supporting ten start-ups and one start-up in residence in each round.

Spotlight on Aerobotics

Aerobotics is a start-up supported by InsurTech that provides cutting-edge data analytics from drones, applying machine learning to multi-spectral images to provide insight and competitive advantage to farmers. Their current mission: applying aerial analytics to improve accuracy and lower costs in crop insurance.

 Summer 2017
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