Auto Insurance

Filing a claim through an app? Auto insurers can tell if you’ve faked a photo

By: Jessica Mach on December 11, 2017

More Canadian auto insurance companies are offering apps that let you submit a claim right from your phone.

It means less hassle for consumers — no more holding the line for a claims agent at the scene of an accident — but it poses new risks for insurers. Fraud is still rampant within the industry and auto insurers are seeking out more solutions to help detect whether an image submitted through an app has been tampered with.

Now, Truepic, a San Diego-based company, says it has invented technology to help authenticate roadside photos, according to Canadian Underwriter.

Here’s how it works: when you take a photo on your phone, the metadata — information about the image, like its size, the location in which it was taken, the type of camera used, for example — is immediately saved on Truepic’s servers, allowing it to track any subsequent changes made to the image file.

But some information can still be faked. To combat that, Truepic can determine whether the phone itself is providing reliable information.

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The image’s information is then encrypted using blockchain technology, the ultra-secure digital ledger used by Bitcoin to record transactions.

Truepic’s services are not yet available in Canada, but the technology can be integrated into any existing platform, the company says.

The number of people using insurance apps, and the field of insurtech in general, continues to grow, with established companies looking to collaborate with insurtech startups to promote their use.

A report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) earlier this year found that many insurance companies have plans to invest heavily in mobile services.

This is good news for consumers. A single instance of fraud can jack up premiums for a lot of people — that's the nature of pooled risk. (The suburb of Brampton, Ont. is a prime example of this.) So, if insurance companies can cut back on the amount spent investigating claims, they could technically pass on the savings to policyholders in the form of lower premiums.

In general, the insurance industry lags behind other financial sectors when it comes to innovation, but that’s gradually changing. Over half of insurance executives surveyed by PwC — 68% — said they expected their company to use blockchain technology by 2018.