Investment in insurtech is being stepped up, as the number of insurance-related patents filed worldwide jumped 40 per cent last year to 917 in 2017, up from 657 in 2016, says London-based law firm RPC. RPC reveals that insurance patent filings per annum have jumped by 116 per cent over 5 years from just 435 in 2013. RPC says that insurance patents filed last year were for innovations as diverse as the use of a system that checks whether a self-driving car is operating autonomously and switches between insurance policies automatically, and a mobile app to speed up the claims process for people affected by natural disasters.
The law firm said that some of the most frequent filers of insurance-related patents last year included Allstate Insurance and State Farm, two leading American insurers who filed 35 and 34 insurance patents respectively and Ping An Insurance of China, which filed 23 patents. Other active filers of insurtech patents outside of traditional insurers include Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, which filed eight patents last year.
RPC says that insurers and brokers now have significant opportunities to carve out competitive advantage through technology as the shift to automated processing has been slower in some parts of the insurance industry than in many other areas of financial services. Paul Joseph, partner at RPC commented: ‘The rising number of insurtech patents shows just how important technology now is to insurers in increasing efficiency, delivering a better user experience and developing brand new products.’ He added: ‘insurtech is touching all areas of the market from P2P retail insurance products to ever more sophisticated risk analysis capabilities.’ Telematics, artificial technology and machine learning, and peer-to-peer insurance among top patent trends. Mr Joseph explained, ‘whether insurers are engaging in proprietary R&D or collaborating with smaller players, protecting intellectual property (IP) rights by securing patents is clearly essential to secure that first mover advantage and stay ahead of the competition.’