Farmers Insurance XR/Metaverse Case Study
Farmers Insurance XR/Metaverse Case Study
Farmers Insurance Group: Leading the Way in Applying VR/AR Technology
Founded in 1928 in Los Angeles, California, the Farmers Insurance Group (informally called “Farmers”) is an American insurer of vehicles, homes, small businesses, and related products. Farmers has approximately 21,000 employees. It sells products through more than 48,000 exclusive and independent agents. Farmer’s parent is the Zurich Insurance Group, which is among the top 10, publicly traded, non-health global insurance companies. With revenues of $11.8 billion (2021), Farmers is the 10th largest property & casualty and insurance company in the US. While not the largest, Farmers has separated themselves from the pack by being a leader in the use of VR/AR technology. Here are two important use cases Farmers is applying VR/AR technologies to.
Use Case #1: VR for Claims Adjuster Training
Being an insurance claims adjuster is challenging work. Individuals in these positions need to deal with thousands of different scenarios that even the best training and mentorship program cannot prepare them for. The old way of training claims adjusters was expensive, time consuming, labor intensive and neither scalable nor standardized. It included:
- Mentor or manager ride-alongs
- Watching videos
- Studying training manuals
- Renting or carving out dedicated office space
Unfortunately, as experienced claims adjusters are about to retire, they are not necessarily available or interested to mentor their replacements.
Farmers saw this writing on the wall and in 2017 began using VR training for claims adjusters. They partnered with an external developer of enterprise XR solutions to create a VR simulator that allows claims adjusters to practice assessing damage to homes and vehicles in a variety of scenarios. The VR simulator is comprised of six different floor plans and more than 500 damage combinations, resulting in thousands of potential claims scenarios.
By strapping on a VR headset, trainees transport to a simulated home where they can see and assess potential damage such as water leaks or fire wreckage. The trainee is obliged to do everything in the VR training environment they would need to do if they were in the actual client’s home. For example, to see water on the bathroom floor, the trainee must literally get down on their knees and bend down near the bathtub to see where the water leak is coming from.
Part of what keeps trainees engaged in the VR simulator is the gamification experience built into program, which adds a ‘fun aspect’ to engaging while learning at the same time. There are different settings in the VR training simulator based on the adjuster’s level of claims knowledge and experience, which allows trainees to learn at their own pace and to pause in the middle of the training to rest, or for example to ask their manager questions.
What are the Benefits of the VR Simulator?
- Virtual Reality shortens the learning curve.
Farmers can train new adjusters and refresh existing ones in a matter of days and months instead of months and years. Speeding up a claims adjuster’s readiness lowers their onboarding cost, and adjusters get to start their work sooner and with a higher level of confidence. A study by Farmers found that adjusters who completed the VR training were more confident in their ability to assess damage and make accurate estimates. They were also less likely to make mistakes. A recent PWC study supports these findings: they found VR learning is 4X faster than traditional learning, and VR learners were 275% more confident in their abilities versus learners who acquired knowledge via more traditional approaches.
- VR is scalable.
If a VR headset is available to them, Farmer employees all over the country can review thousands of immersive insurance claim scenarios. Adding new VR headsets or additional claims scenarios can be done quickly and cost-effectively.
- The environment is safe and controlled.
Immersive scenarios in the VR training allows employees to feel safe. If they are in a water-damaged building, or a home that has burned down, there is no personal risk to explore the damage. Employees can also take off their VR headset at any time, allowing them to control the pace of training.
- Employees like VR training and learn more.
VR trainees rate Farmer’s VR training 4.7 out of 5-stars. Trainees also claim they are 20% more accurate in their decisions versus traditional training methods.
- Positive financial impact.
In addition to better trained claims adjusters, Farmers VR training program also saves the company hundreds of thousands of dollars per year in reduced travel costs to various training facilities.
Use Case #2: AR for Customer Service
AR is a technology that superimposes a computer-generated image on a user's view of the real world. Farmers is exploring the use of AR for customer service in a few different ways.
- Farmers is using AR to help clients visualize their insurance policies. For example, a client could use an AR app to see a 3D rendering of their home and see how it would be affected by different types of damage. This could help the client understand their coverage better and make informed decisions about their insurance needs.
- Farmers is using AR to help a client find and repair damage to their homes or cars. In this scenario, a client would use the AR app to see a 3D rendering of their car and identify potential damage. The app could then provide information about how to fix the damage.
- Farmers is using AR virtual agents. This agent can answer client questions and help them with tasks such as filing a claim or changing their insurance information. This can help clients get the help they need more quickly and easily.
With 6 years of substantial experience performing claims adjuster VR training, and applying AR for customer support, Farmers is well positioned to be successful in their new and valuable VR/AR technology applications to include:
- AR home inspection app: This app allows a client to see a 3D rendering of their home and identify potential hazards. This can help homeowners improve the safety of their homes.
- VR distracted driving simulator: This simulator allows users to experience the dangers of distracted driving. This can help raise awareness of the issue and encourage people to drive more safely.
- AR claims process simulator: This simulator allows clients to experience the claims process from start to finish, thereby helping customers understand what to expect, and making the process more understandable and easier for everyone involved.
- VR avatar training: These ‘virtual humans’ put trainees through difficult client discussions to improve their ability to negotiate with challenging clients. Avatars teach things such as leadership bias, performance management techniques, communication practices, and customer experience training.
Trainees speak directly with the avatar the way they might speak to a client. The avatar, supported by AI knowledge, is designed to respond with believable, emotional, and relevant reactions, and may have constructive suggestions when it does not agree with what the trainee says.
While Farmers continues to lead in the innovative uses of VR/AR technology, there are many other insurance companies also applying VR/AR creatively. I would like to close with one final AR use case, namely AR for inspection and damage estimation. Let us use the example of a damaged building. Using AR, claims adjusters can remotely view damage using 3D photos of the building. They can then compile these 3D photos and overlay them against the architectural model of the building created prior to the damage. This allows adjustors to better assess the damage and calculate required repair costs. Going a step further, using ultrasound and related AR tools, inspectors can now literally look behind the building walls to determine, for example, the location of key gas or electrical lines to determine damages and ongoing risk.
In closing, I see the insurance industry as an excellent breeding ground not only for the existing VR/AR applications, but also for new and creative VR/AR applications that are not yet available in the market. It would not surprise me to learn these applications are being developed right now, for example, by Apple Vision Pro developers for a likely Q1 2024 launch. While one often hears the insurance industry is conservative and move slowly, for an insurance company to remain competitive in the future, mastering these use cases and getting your AR/VR strategy in place today is imperative.
My Metaverse business partner, Tim Bajarin, and I are keen to assist institutions at each step of the way to ensure their successful entry into the Metaverse. To read about other aerospace and defense industry Metaverse use cases, I strongly recommend you visit ISM’s award-winning Metaverse Resource Center – www.ismguide.com/metaverse-resource-center – where in addition to hundreds of Metaverse use cases, articles and videos, you can also download ISM’s new “8 Steps to Do Business Successfully in the Metaverse” White Paper, and where you can also learn about and sign up for ISM’s complimentary, 2-hour Metaverse Bootcamp, which is targeted for a company’s executive team.
Barton Goldenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of ISM, Inc. Since 1985, ISM has established itself as the premier strategic advisor leveraging leading edge technologies – the Metaverse, Digital Communities, and CRM – to create and implement customer strategy with a focus on sales, marketing and customer service. His thought leadership including creator of the ‘Business Success in a Virtual World’ podcast, creator of the award winning Metaverse Resource Center, and author of three business books including The Definitive Guide to Social CRM. He is also in high demand as a keynote speaker (www.bartongoldenberg.com).