FINANCE, STARTUPS, TECHNOLOGY

Remote inspection, revolution in insurance

Alexander Fokin is the owner of Calcul.ru, a small limited company with a share capital of RUR 50K ($800), annual sales of under RUR 500K, and not more than ten employees. The company’s main activity is software development. Calcul.ru has developed, for instance, a mobile application for visual tests of motor vehicles and other items to be insured such as houses, apartments, offices and devices. The program guides a user through taking photos step by step in a proper sequence and under a proper angle. For each stage, it offers detailed instructions. Once an inspection is over, the pictures are within two to five minutes sent over to the insurance company.

Recently, the company took part in Insurtech Lab program (December 2017 to March 2018), intended for startups in Russia’s insurance industry. The program was launched by Fintech Lab fintech accelerator. Calcul.ru has designed pilot projects for such companies as Alfa Insurance and VTB Insurance.

Small company’s big progress

15 year ago Alexander Fokin and some of his friends decided to start selling insurance policies and registered Strakhovaya Kassa insurance broker. Everything was fine until an economic recession broke out, and after 2014 market prices nosedived. Costs have been piling up while the number of fraud cases has been growing. For business optimization purposes, all data flows in the company went digital which allowed some personnel cuts. Computerization helped in reducing losses caused by fraud.

After that, the company started developing two software products, a calculator for a third party liability insurance and a comprehensive car insurance, and an application for a preinsurance inspection. The first program is intended to help an insurance broker’s employee to compare insurance policy’s prices and offer a customer the best option. The second digital product is an application for a visual examination of motor vehicles and real estate. This product appeared in early 2017 and was in line with the major technology shifts in the insurance market. Even though this is a purely insurance product, ViewApp program was developed on its basis. ViewApp can be used for visually inspecting any items for any purposes.

By employing the application the company can now save on logistics costs and charges of contractors who used to be hired by the insurer for conducting preinsurance inspections. The dream of underwriters of charging a client with a visual inspection and not paying for that, has come true.

The risks of fraud by the insured party are at the minimum. A client who operates the program for the first time, will be unable to cheat it since the application records the timing and location of the review, collects the data supplied by the sensors, and eventually does not allow a user to replace real photos.

On the verge of implementation

By now, the product has not reached the break even point, while its developers keep investing in its improvement. Yet an advertizing campaign and the company’s participation in Insurtech Lab accelerator, made all insurance companies and many banks, appraisal companies and pawnbrokers aware of the product.

So far, the application has been actively employed by Strakhovaya Kassa insurance broker only. Nevertheless, VTB Insurance is currently implementing the program into its claims settlement process. Many other insurers are now testing the application before making their final decision on purchasing it.

Jointly with Russian Military Historical Society, Calcul.ru launched a pilot project of visually inspecting Second World War memorials and monuments. For that, a special application styled to the Society’s designs, was released free of charge. The application is downloaded to a smartphone, and after that the phone owner can review a monument according to the guidelines set. The images are then downloaded, moderated and published at a special web platform on memorial sites, местопамяти.рф.

According to Alexander Fokin, Calcul.ru’s CEO, another pilot project is now being implemented jointly with a large state owned company. The name of the company is not disclosed, but once the project is successfully launched, millions of motor vehicles will be inspected with assistance of ViewApp.

Insurance and more

In fact, ViewApp can be employed for designing a product for inspection needs of any company. A customized application will take two weeks to develop. Inspection schemes integration takes up to two days. The developer’s infrastructure can be used to support business related processes, such as a call center, F1 Assistance appraiser to verify inspections. The developer uses the application for a visual testing of motor vehicles which witnesses to its functionality, efficiency and absence of any errors.

The main goal now is launching pilot projects jointly with foreign companies. Calcul.ru is certain its solutions will be of interest to customers abroad. Its main customers now are insurance companies (inspections before issuing a cover, or when filing claims), retailers (merchandizing and goods positioning control), banks (reviewing collateral), logistics companies.

Besides, the product may be useful for a scientific research as it simplifies recording the discovery-related facts, for monitoring migration and general sate of animals, trees and plants.

Alexander Fokin admits that Calcul.ru is a small IT company and hence its sales and marketing mechanisms require a great deal of improvement. The business owner had to personally visit every client to present his product, show its potential, explain its advantages, help setting and adjusting software, sign contracts. Now, a webpage has been designed with the product online presentation, and the application’s visual design has been finalized.

At the moment, Calcul.ru is looking forward to getting a major customer or a partner which will take both the product and the company to the next level.

By Christina Firsova

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