Jonathan Kost of Symbility Solutions: “Smart Sensors will Predict the Future”

Jonathan Kost of Symbility SolutionsJonathan Kost is Chief Strategy Officer for Toronto-based Symbility Solutions® (TSX.V: SY), a global provider of cloud-based and smartphone/tablet-enabled claims technology for the property and health insurance industries. He was previously Senior VP at Marshall and Swift/Boeckh (acquired by CoreLogic), responsible for commercial underwriting and property claims divisions.

In March 2014 Symbility and Enservio announced a partnership to integrate Enservio’s contents claims valuation software with Symbility’s structural estimating cloud and mobile products. The combined solution creates a single sign-on, best-of-breed claims settlement application that empowers adjusters to estimate and process both contents and structural claims in a more streamlined fashion.

“Innovations in Insurance” is a Q&A Enservio blog that interviews thought leaders working to improve the quality of work while managing change within their organizations.


How would you define an innovation in insurance?

Some good examples include the use of data to drive automated decisions, and the de-complication of the claims or underwriting process. A good example are things like risk-specific or property-specific ratings, which are two different concepts, though complementary. The idea of understanding the specific risk a property or a specific automobile and occupant has, makes risk different from the car next to it or the property next to it.

Similarly, the ability to predict what claims have occurred, what damage they might involve and which claims have a higher propensity for fraudulent activity in the claims space. This is all a result of the diverse amount of data sources we have available today for all types of underwriting and claims processing.

Other exciting areas of innovation include the leverage of mobile devices by adjusters and inspectors to perform many new tasks in the field. This includes leverage of sensors inside devices to perform automated dimensioning (e.g., calculating the size of a room), data collection, and to further streamline what was previously a very “hands on” process.


How much further can mobile innovation go?

Mobile innovation has a bright future. Sensors of various types will be embedded into the core mobile device. Whether it’s a phone or a wrist-watch, it doesn’t matter. These sensors are creating amazing new capabilities, and they’re largely being deployed in a way that is open and programmable. Developers who are creating these sensors are doing so with a specific purpose in mind, yet realizing they can have vastly different applications that they may never have originally conceived. Additional applications can be built which allow for more automated data collection; data collection about the environment, or data collection about the attributes of a certain item.

An example is the ability for an individual to walk through a home with just a smartphone as a tool to collect information about a loss. They can capture images or use video and apps to create all the dimensional characteristics on-demand and also to recognize attributes, say, of the exterior: “This is a window, this is lap siding,” and so forth. The app would spot an electronic device and link that device to a database to calculate the make, model and price of a replacement. All of that data is simultaneously being uploaded to the cloud where it’s available for other uses.

The number of connected devices beyond smartphones, such as smart boxes in cars and extensible boxes for appliances, offers a huge promise as these devices become aware of one another. These devices will be used for safety purposes, for mitigation purposes, and for alerting and pre-notification about things that are going on in homes, cars and elsewhere. The capabilities of these devices will evolve to include information not just about current status, but predictions on what may happen and when. For example, they could report on aspects of a home’s condition today and be leveraged to predict what may occur to an item in the near future if mitigation steps are not taken.

There is development being done with the insertion of very thin layers of material between building product layers that can collect and transmit data on the performance of such things as roofing systems over time.

Overall, the “Internet of Things” will allow people to have safer homes, to react more quickly to conditions that are developing in their homes, and to make for a greater ownership experience for the consumer and a less risky place for the insurer.


Symbility’s integration with Enservio’s ContentsExpress allows companies to deploy a single cloud-based app for both contents and structural estimating. How have customers responded to this combined solution?

The feedback has been fantastic. What we’re hearing from the marketplace is, “Oh, that checks the box. That’s perfect.” It is what both carriers and service providers are looking for, including a completely integrated view of the claim for the consumer; they’re getting one report, one output that includes the structural, contents, additional living expenses… everything involved in a claim. Similarly from the operations side for insurance carriers, they’re enjoying the idea of receiving one consolidated data feed that tells them about their entire claims experience, as opposed to having to go to different places for data on each of the segments of structural or contents. It’s a great example of two best-of-breed providers coming together and taking their singular focus on solving a singular problem and then joining forces to create something that’s really much better than anything else available in the market today.

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