Experts Weigh In on Emerging Tech Trends Likely To Transform Commercial Insurance

Emerging technologies continuously change how businesses conduct their everyday lives. These technologies often incrementally help businesses and sometimes even disrupt businesses entirely.

The most successful insurers take advantage of these trends while they’re still in their infancy. Time and again, the companies that are ahead of the curve come out on top.

I recently asked three industry experts to share their thoughts about the emerging technologies that will have the biggest impact on commercial insurance over the next five to ten years. A few of these technologies already exist but are still in their infancy when it comes to insurance use cases.

Predictions about AI

Abel Travis, VP Underwriting & Innovation, AF Group

AI technologies can create insights from unstructured claim data

“Natural language processing (NLP) and deep learning methodologies can help to parse all of the unstructured data in adjusters’ notes.. [These technologies can] look for trends and then figure out what’s going to help you serve that policyholder better. There is a lot of powerful information that is being put in the notes, but no insurer has the ability to go back and sort through everything.”

AI will streamline the underwriting process

“Insurers can and will use AI to gather and leverage third-party data that is already on the web in order to provide a quote to policyholders, without underwriters having to spend as much time collecting insurance information.”

Computer vision will change how we do claims

“The prospect of computer vision, which would allow algorithms to assess damage from customer-submitted photos, could help expedite the claims process. It could potentially reduce the time over the entire repair cycle.”

Jennifer Tomilin’s predictions about Auto Insurance and Workers Comp

Jennifer Tomilin, Consultant, Former Chief Underwriting Officer at Zurich and CNA 

Wearable devices may change how workers’ compensation is underwritten

“In the coming years, we will better understand how objective data for example data from wearable devices can give underwriters factual insights into the actual risk like employees’ behavior on the job. These new technologies providing additional data will never replace the need for loss history/experience, but they will definitely enhance the credibility of the underwriting decisions and pricing accuracy.”

Electronic logging devices (ELD) and in-dash data-capture devices will improve auto insurance

“Studies have shown a credible correlation between driver behavior over time and the potential for the frequency and severity of claims. Therefore, it will be interesting to see underwriters begin to use ELDs and in-dash data-capture device data to underwrite and more accurately price risks in the future.

Bill Pieroni’s predictions about data and the next generation of computing. 

Bill Pieroni, President & CEO, ACORD.

AI enables more accurate data

“With artificial intelligence, data can be leveraged at the moment of value, in real time, with zero marginal cost. AI technologies are key to separating fact, fiction, and future for insurers. Informational scale and scope economies are rapidly becoming the key differentiator for superior performance.”

Technologies are helping carriers visualize patterns

“New technologies will help insurers turn the data into information that cannot be ignored. Carriers will be able to visualize patterns with new types of software that can act passively and address issues before they become material challenges.”

Quantum computing will impact data analysis

“We are seeing early endeavors in quantum computing which will ultimately improve the veracity and velocity of data, enabling insurers of all types to use more types of deep-learning methodologies.”

On-demand computing impacts IT

“Cloud computing has been here for some time, but our industry has only recently migrated to the cloud. Insurers of any scale or scope are now able to access computing and storage capacity on demand. Cloud computing dramatically lowers barriers to entry and diminishes operational scale advantages. Today, the smallest carrier has access to the same computing power and variable cost as large carriers, with no fixed costs. As smaller insurers take advantage of cloud computing, they will not only improve efficiency but also effectiveness, allowing them to focus on higher value-added capabilities.”


Emerging technologies will enable insurers to learn insights from past claims, write insurance with more accurate data in real time today, and streamline the claims processes in the future.

Abel notes that natural language processing, a type of AI, can help make sense of unstructured free-text claim data AI can also streamline current underwriting processes by gathering underwriting insights from the web. Furthermore, computer vision can also help streamline auto claims. Customers will be able to upload images of auto accidents, and an insurer will be able to understand the extent of the damage, all in real time.

Jennifer believes the Internet of Things will play a big part in underwriting workers’ compensation. Furthermore, the evolution of auto-tracking technologies will also influence how commercial auto insurance is underwritten.

Bill stressed the importance of emerging technologies helping smaller insurers level the playing field. In addition, Bill believes that many emerging technologies are intertwined. Quantum computing, for example, will take deep learning to a whole new level. Furthermore, artificial intelligence will help insurers gather data in real time, create more accurate data, and consume data more easily through visualizations.

All in all, the future is bright for insurance. Emerging technologies will impact the entire value chain for insurers.

Full Bios

Jennifer Tomilin, AAI, AIC, Consultant
Former Chief Underwriting Officer at Zurich and CNA

Jennifer is now a full time consultant. At Zurich as Global Head for Commercial Motor, she provided strategic leadership and management of a team responsible for a $4-billion portfolio across 5 continents Jennifer gained extensive experience in commercial lines insurance technical underwriting and underwriting leadership roles with Zurich Insurance, CNA, AIG, and Aetna, and earlier in her career in personal and commercial lines insurance sales and marketing with independent agents and brokers. In her role with Zurich as Global Head for Commercial Motor, she provided strategic leadership and management of a team responsible for a $4-billion portfolio across 5 continents (North America, South America, Asia Pacific and Australia, the Middle East and South Africa, and Europe). She also has an extensive background in workers’ compensation insurance, insurance pricing, statistics, and analytics.

She is currently an independent consultant for clients such as Indenseo Inc and Keep Truckin, Inc. She carries several insurance degrees and has served on many industry boards.

Abel Travis
Vice President, Underwriting & Product Innovation
AF Group

Abel Travis is currently the Vice President of Underwriting & Product Innovation at AF Group, a multiline carrier located in Lansing, Michigan. Abel has deep subject matter expertise in the insurance industry, with over 15 years of experience. Abel is an expert in innovation, designing new products and business models to drive growth and transformation. Abel, no stranger to the startup world, also built and sold an insurance technology company before the “InsurTech” phenomenon. Abel has provided leadership and guidance in all aspects of the insurance industry from technology, underwriting, product management, innovation, strategy, and product development. Abel has a deep affinity for insurance innovation and seeing the proliferation of innovation change this industry. He hosts the Insurance Innovators Unscripted podcast to provide and engage in thought leadership with innovators, influencers, and executives in insurance. Abel serves as an advisor to regional technology startups, provides consultation for private equity firms investing in the insurance sector, and mentors future industry leaders and innovators.

Bill Pieroni, President & CEO

Bill Pieroni is President & CEO of ACORD, the standards-setting body for the global insurance industry. His career has spanned technology, operations, and top executive roles at several top insurers, brokers, and consulting firms, including Marsh, State Farm, Aon, IBM, McKinsey, and Accenture. He holds degrees with honors from the University of Illinois and the Harvard School of Business Administration. Bill regularly presents the results of ACORD research at dozens of conferences, board meetings, and executive sessions hosted by industry-leading organizations across the globe.

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