Episode 15 – How AI is Transforming the Auto Insurance Industry with Charles Boyle

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The auto insurance industry is rapidly transforming with the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics, like many other businesses. In this episode of the Decisions Now podcast, Charles Boyle, VP, and global chief data officer at Octo Telematics discusses how the industry is succeeding by leveraging the power of data and technology.  

Co-hosts Rigvinath Chevala, Evalueserve’s chief technology officer, and Erin Pearson, VP of marketing chat with Boyle on how AI is being used to assess driving risk, insurance rates, driving behaviors, predictive maintenance, and more!  

Digital transformation 

The auto industry is currently amid a digital transformation, brought on by developments in technology. This transition shows the migration from device-based telematics to using smartphones as a sensor, collecting data from tablets, and smart tags that can be installed in a vehicle.  

As the sector moves from hardware-centric platforms to embedding telematics, data can be derived from different trips and drivers and added to a centralized repository for analytics purposes, Boyle said.  

Like most things, there are pros and cons to this journey. The pro being there will be an all-digital platform, someday, but the con is that OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) haven’t yet caught up with the level of granularity.   

“What’s interesting about that topic is there’s a lot of granularities in the data that could be captured on a device that’s embedded in your OBD2 port or in a smart tag or even in your smartphone quite honestly. But when we think about the playing field for data procurement as it relates to smart mobility, not all OEMs are using the same devices,” Boyle said.  

Currently, a core area of AI and machine learning (ML) leveraged by Octo is extensive work around crash detection, crash reconstruction, and damage estimation. 

With these technologies, the company gets ahead of claims management processes.  

“You’ve seen on the different television commercials, you could take a picture of the damage it’ll get sent into a claims adjuster,” Boyle said. “We can accelerate some of that by being proactive, detecting that an accident or event has taken place. Upload that information for first notice of loss, and send that to your insurance carrier via a digital platform.” 

This Telemetry data from these vehicles allows companies to reconstruct what took place in an accident or incident, pulling together a crash dossier that the insurance adjuster can work from as opposed to just photography, and digital images. 


AI and ML in the Auto Industry 

The trio dived into how changes due to world events like the pandemic and changing technology have resulted in new trends.  

There is a shift for auto manufacturers to also become data companies, embedding firmware within the vehicle to capture data from predictive maintenance, being one of them. 

“It’s just the interesting change in culture. I think we’re going to become more of an e-commerce platform where we’re buying directly from the manufacturer,” Boyle said. “We’re not going through dealers anymore. We’re going to multi-brand car dealers now.” 

He explained the lack of movement of cars during COVID, which resulted in many different outcomes, like: 

  1. Lower amounts of data were collected due to the slowdown in driving activity, including insights into crashes.
  2. The current aggressive market for use cars due to low mileage on cars during the pandemic 

“So that was a rough patch for us from a data procurement, and data collection perspective. But we’ve obviously come out of that people are out and about again and that data’s being compiled and put into our data lake,” Boyle said.  

Currently, they have about 6 million connected users worldwide, with over 510 billion kilometers of driving behavior data and events as well data on new types of drivers like Instacart and Doordashers, he said.