This interview is part of our new AI in Insurance series, where we interview the world's top thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between AI and insurance.
In this interview, we speak with Joe Settimi, SVP & General Manager at HYLA Mobile, to understand how his company is using AI to transform insurance, and what the future of the insurance industry holds.
1. What's the story behind HYLA Mobile? Why and how did you begin?
JS: Our founders had a long history in the mobile industry and came to the realization that mobile devices were being discarded while still holding residual value. Often, they were being thrown into a drawer when a new device was bought, or worse yet, thrown into landfills adding to the e-waste problems.
With the phones still holding value, there was a huge missed economic opportunity for the phone owners, the carriers and the many individuals that could benefit from having access to affordable technology. Since 2009, we have processed over 53 million devices, which has put $6 billion in the pockets of consumers and diverted 24 million pounds of e-waste from landfills. Many smartphones now go on to have two, three, or even four lives.
And now, to further extend the lifecycle of smartphones, it is only natural for us to look at device protection and how to provide this service to a wider audience. Allowing consumers to insure their device even after their initial purchase while mitigating the risk of fraud has been paramount in designing our solution.
2. Please describe your use case and how HYLA Mobile uses artificial intelligence:
JS: We've developed and patented AI-based technology to determine if a mobile phone screen is cracked or not. The screen is the most common item to break (as most of us have learned by now!) and the costliest item to remedy. By leveraging this tech, we allow insurance companies, wireless carriers, and retailers to minimize fraud (consumers attempting to insure a device which is already damaged), improve customer experience and efficiency (consumers doing more via digital channels and removing wait time in stores) and ultimately reduce operating costs.
Two most common use cases:
(a) the ability to sell insurance on devices no matter their age, even on pre-owned devices, which is a growing portion of device sales today due to the ever-rising prices for new devices. Today, many programs require the device to be insured within the first 30 days of activation, so this removes that requirement — opening a much larger available market — without having to physically inspect every device.
(b) the ability to remotely value the device for buy-back/trade-in, allowing consumers to complete the diagnostics and receive value for their device, thus determining whether they want to sell/trade it without needing to go into a store and (often) wait around.
3. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has HYLA Mobile done for them?
JS: Enterprise benefit: Working with an underwriter in Europe, they will use the AI-based diagnostics technology to greatly reduce fraud (consumers attempting to purchase insurance on a device already broken), which will lead to lower necessary reserves and could ultimately lower consumer price points for the device insurance since today the cost of fraud must be built into reserves and product pricing.
Consumer benefit: Two main benefits for consumers — first, this provides consumers increased access to device insurance because in many countries programs simply won't sell insurance on non-new devices because of the high rate of fraud and inability to physically inspect every device prior to coverage. With the seemingly ever-increasing cost of devices, this enables devices with second+ lives to still be covered. Second, by reducing the issue of fraud — which can be as high as 20 percent in some global programs — consumers could see lower-priced device insurance in the future.