Relaunched Cookhouse Labs Base for Insurance Innovation/Disruption from Ideation Through Creation

Cookhouse Labs (www.cookhouselabs.com), InsurTech’s global innovation hub, launched Cookhouse Labs 2.0 this week with a new space in Toronto’s downtown core and a revised menu of programs and innovation opportunities, created based on member feedback.

Cookhouse Labs, which first opened its doors in 2017, offers like-minded insurance pioneers and innovators opportunities to collaborate and co-create to rethink and reinvent insurance. Its new space at 30-34 Duncan St. will play host to myriad innovation/creation sprints, training sessions, lunch & learns and other events that will bring together insurance industry innovators, including insurance companies, brokers, vendors, start-ups and academics.

“With our relaunch, we are actually saying, ‘Welcome Home,’ to all of our members and potential collaborators,” said Sven Roehl, Head of Innovation for msg global solutions and a Co-founder of Cookhouse Labs. “Our ultimate goal is to #MakeInsuranceBetter. During the past nine months, we have taken your input and revamped our Cookhouse Labs menu to meet the needs of the insurance industry and create a home for innovation and collaboration.

“This is your space and we hope you will use it to help the industry meet ever-present challenges.”

Roehl offered opening remarks at the relaunch, followed by a panel discussion featuring three industry professionals: Till Heydel, Vice-President, Strategy & Corporate Development for BI&I/Munich Re; Emily Hill, Manager of Insurance Innovation for CAASCO; and Sam Jazayeri, Producer Team Lead for PrimeService Insurance. They discussed How Collaboration and Co-creation Can Help the Industry to Make Insurance Better.

“We don’t want to innovate for the sake of innovating,” Hill emphasized. Heydel noted, “Technology is not a cost center. Technology is our business model going forward! If we don’t get this, we will not survive.” Jazayeri, speaking as a member of the Insurance Brokers Association of Ontario, noted, “A lot of the young brokers are in the survivor phase, busy fighting fires. … The value is forcing them to take time away, saying, ‘Okay, you’re in a three-day program at Cookhouse Labs. Let’s think about what 2025 looks like … and how can we actually shape it?” Heydel added, “… Cookhouse Labs has been very beneficial for the Munich Re group. … We are extremely fortunate to have this independent lab focusing on insurance in a city like Toronto, five minutes away from our office.”

Ibeth Ramos, Program Manager and Innovation Coach for Cookhouse Labs, reflected that the panel posed questions that need answers, issues that can be tackled collaboratively at Cookhouse Labs. “Cookhouse Labs is a space that encourages self-disruption, one that arose from our vision of a collaborative process of solving industry challenges,” Ramos said.

Entering 2020, Cookhouse Labs will offer programs themed by season, beginning in January with a focus on Insurance Innovation, followed quarterly by the Internet of Things, Customer Experience and International Collaboration. Annual memberships are offered at a discount through Dec. 31.

The Effect of Autonomous Vehicles on Insurance

What if I told you that in just twenty years, it is estimated that there will be 23 million autonomous vehicles on highways in the US?

How does it make you feel? Uneasy? Excited? Both?!

The technology for autonomous driving has arrived. And with that, change is inevitable. Here are some of the ways this technology will shift the insurance industry:

Premium Shifts

When buying auto insurance today, accident liability rests on the driver of the vehicle. So what happens when the driver is removed from this equation? While many debate that the accident rate will drop once autonomous driving is widely implemented, it’s impossible to presume that this rate will be reduced to zero. This means that accident liability still exists – but will shift away from the driver.

In the UK, the Department of Transport has unveiled a plan for two-in-one insurance products for autonomous vehicles. This product covers both the risk of the motorist when they’re driving and the car when it is in autonomous mode.

Scott Mclaren, Executive VP and Chief Marketing Officer of Fortegra, explains an alternative possibility where premiums could be passed off to other parties including the auto manufacturer, software designer, or even the government.

Regulation Shifts

As society norms shift with the usage of autonomous vehicles, the terms used in insurance today could become fuzzy. This, in turn, will necessitate a shift in regulations.

What is considered to be negligent driving today will be radically different from what is considered negligent driving with an autonomous vehicle. For example, taking your eyes off the road while driving today would be extremely dangerous and considered negligent, but will this still apply when the car is automated? 

Product Shifts

As more people start to use autonomous vehicles, new products will need to be introduced to complement their usage.

An example of this is cyber-insurance. Autonomous vehicles are connected devices, and as such, they will need to be protected against the same threats that computers face. These threats include something as simple as a system error to something more severe like a criminal or terrorist hijacking – which will be a new avenue that underwriters will need to explore.

Infrastructure is another avenue that needs to be explored. As the responsibility of driving shifts away from the driver towards artificial intelligence, the data that is uploaded for analyzing will increase. This means that servers will also need to be insured.

Change is coming to the industry, and the earliest movers will have the most to gain. If your organization wants to be a part of this movement, co-create with us on our upcoming autonomous vehicle project

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[Chatbot Series: Part 2] A Cookhouse Conversation: BOTFriends & Chatbots

Cookhouse Lab had the pleasure of hosting the BOTFriends team earlier this month as Cookhouse embarked on its first chatbot project. While they were in town, we had the opportunity to sit down with the team to learn more about their story and their thoughts on chatbots, innovation, and the future. Read more on our Q&A session below:

Tell us a bit about yourselves!

Kevin: All of us are students at the University of Applied Sciences in Würzberg, with plans to graduate next year in March. At BOTFriends, I’m responsible for customer success, sales, and in addition, I also have a small part in product development.

Tobias: My focus at BOTFriends is on product development. Michelle is responsible for marketing and user experience. Lastly, Daniel is responsible for monitoring future trends to make concrete products.

What’s the story behind the creation of BOTFriends?

Daniel: Kevin and I met at while we were working at Porsche. During our spare time throughout our internship, we developed a chatbot prototype for Porsche recruitment. We introduced our prototype to some of the employees and they sent us to the Porsche digital lab in Berlin earlier this year. We conceived our original idea in February, and our prototype was developed in October.

Kevin: After our experiences at Porsche, we recruited Tobias and Michelle, and the four of us founded BOTFriends in March 2017. We officially incorporated the start-up in the middle of June 2017.

What have your lives been like since June 2017?

Michelle: We’ve had the opportunity to attend a variety of events in various capacities. We’ve taken part in discussion panels, launched conference chatbots, and attended various start-up events regionally. For the hashtag.business conference in Germany, we launched a chatbot that gave participants the ability get automatic answers about general conference inquiries (agenda, parking, speaker biographies).

Kevin: We’ve also had many meetings with potential customers, run workshops, and gained our first contracts.

What next steps do you want to take with BOTFriends?

Daniel: We’re currently working with customers (like Porsche who pay per hour), but we eventually want to establish our own messaging platform and other products. In terms of location, we’re currently based in Würzberg, but we want to open another office in Berlin in the future.

Michelle: I hope that our next milestones will include more client contracts and more product development. Right now, our services take up a lot of our personal resources so I want to come up with a plan that makes our services more scalable.

Where do you see chatbots going in the next 5 years?

Daniel: There is a lot of conversation happening in all facets of business, which include services like call centers and online support. I believe that eventually chatbots will overtake a lot of these processes, and this could be very helpful for companies.

Tobias: Chatbots can be applied in every sector, and they can overtake things like event planning. Nobody wants to download an app for an event that lasts two days.

Michelle: Companies can also use chatbots as a new communication avenue. Sometimes, it’s difficult to keep up engagement because less people activate push notifications on their apps, but for apps like Messenger, they are usually on.

Interested in chatbots? Make sure to subscribe and check out our upcoming chatbot project

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[Chatbot Series: Part 1] The Chatbot Impact in Insurance

Artificial intelligence (AI) dates back to the year 1950, when Alan Turing developed the Turing test to evaluate a machine’s ability to exhibit intelligent behaviour that could be equivalated to those of humans. Since then, the field has exploded. 

In businesses today, AI can be found in many forms including intelligent conversational chatbots. These bots are becoming increasingly popular, with over 30,000 chatbots (as of 2016) existing on various messaging interfaces. These chatbots cater to an audience of 4.1 billion users, most of whom are on these platforms every day.

So why does this matter for the insurance industry?

Using chatbots gives companies across insurance, financial services, sales and customer service the potential to save over $174 billion. This number not only showcases a huge opportunity, but also the sheer size of this market that firms can capitalize on.

This sentiment is one that is shared throughout the financial services industry. As Accenture reports, 79% of surveyed banks agree that AI will revolutionize the way that consumers gain their information and 76% believe that some sort of AI mechanism will become their primary point of communication within the next three years.

Current Industry Chatbots

Insurance firms across the globe have started to take advantage of this technology.

  • Lemonade, the New York City-based property and casualty insurance company has already introduced two chatbots: Maya and Jim, both of whom tackle different problems. Maya’s job is to sell insurance to both homeowners and renters, while Jim’s job is to settle claims – which he has done in three seconds.
  • The Singaporean PolicyPal has launched Kate, backed with technology from IBM Watson. Watson was given access to a database of more than 9,000 policies, and users are now able to buy and manage their policies through their mobile phones with Kate’s help.

Room for Growth

The emergence of these chatbots have undoubtedly elevated the customer experience, but these first-generation chatbots have also left room for growth. The majority of current chatbots are built for simple questions whose responses are guided by key words or sentences that a human still needs to continuously keep track of and update.

This gap leads to the next big leap in this technology: machine learning. 

<< Read our Machine Learning Innovation Challenge Recap! >>

This is a step that financial institutions are already striving to reach today through extensive R&D. One of these institutions is Wells Fargo, where their innovation department is looking to develop technology that would give artificial intelligence not only the ability to understand emotion, but to also layer it into conversation when dealing with customers.

All in all, it’s clear that chatbots are already making waves in insurance. However, it’s also clear that there is enormous opportunity that is still untapped. If leveraged correctly, these friends that you create can help your business save time, money, and effort.  This is why Cookhouse Lab is running a chatbot project soon! Stay tuned as we release full project details. 

Still hungry? Subscribe now and stay tuned for Part 2 of our Chatbot Series, which will feature a personal interview from BOTFriends, a chatbot start-up from Germany!

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