How a Fintech Conference Changes the Nature of Financial Education

By Robert S. Anthony

January 12, 2017

Liberty Mutual's development portal

LAS VEGAS—So, you just got into a car accident. You’re Okay, but you’re upset. What next? Take a picture, of course, and let your new app do the heavy lifting.

Technology is changing personal finance in profound ways—and the newest stuff should be on the agenda of financial educators everywhere. Just as the artificial intelligence in “chatbots” and various apps is poised to change the way we bank, the AI behind insurance apps will change the way we make claims.

An experimental app developed by Liberty Mutual Insurance uses AI to analyze car crash photos and estimate the cost of repair before the tow truck arrives. No need to get a physical estimate. The app, developed by Liberty Mutual’s Solaria Labs, an innovation incubator, was previewed here last week at the 2017 CES, the big annual consumer electronics showcase.

Financial AI was all over the conference, hinting at a financial future that will make understanding how to use new technologies a core aspect of financial literacy. During the Digital Money Forum, vendors previewed mobile wallets, smarter robo advisers and much more.

The Liberty Mutual technology may seem pedestrian by comparison. But it illustrates how tech is overtaking every corner of personal finance. Liberty Mutual’s AI examines digital photos down to the pixel and uses a database of thousands of car crash photos and insurance and accident data to assess damage and fine-tune the estimate, said a Solaria Labs representative. The goal, he said, is to arm customers with as much information as possible before they get the insurance process started.

In addition to the accident app, Solaria Labs is aggregating public and proprietary accident, insurance, traffic, parking citation, auto theft data and making the data available to other software publishers. Look for more innovation in this area soon.

At a CES press event Liberty Mutual also showed off RightTrack, an app that offers customers lower insurance rates by letting it track their driving habits. RightTrack records driving behaviors like acceleration and braking, miles driven and late-night driving, and calculates a discount exclusive to the driver. Better driving habits result in lower premiums. This is an easy way to lower your bill—assuming you know about it, and drive safely.

Posted in Gadgets & Apps on January, 2017