Industry newcomer, Huddle, tackling insurance fraud with Australian-first technology

Insurance industry newcomer, Huddle, is taking significant steps to tackle fraud within the sector while dramatically increasing the speed at which claims are approved and paid.

The Insurance Council of Australia currently estimates the cost of fraud is up to $2bn per year – most of which gets passed on to the end consumer. With the insurance industry largely offline – in the form of paper forms and applications – the opportunity for potential fraudsters to slip through the cracks is large, and damaging for the whole industry.

Huddle co-founders, Jason Wilby and Jonathan Buck, saw an opportunity to use technology to disrupt the traditional insurance industry, reduce fraud, and regain consumer trust.

Jason Wilby says, “While so many people depend on insurance in the event of an accident, emergency or other issues out of their control, most people don’t like insurance companies and don’t trust them. It also goes the other way – there are so many incidents of fraud that insurance companies don’t always trust customers either. So we asked ourselves, how do we bring it back to its roots and to the community? The answer is by using technology to reduce fraud and rebuild that trust”.

Unable to find anything in market that could do what they needed, Huddle created their own technology. The end result was a new, proprietary platform that incorporated machine learning and artificial intelligence to assess claims information and automate insurance processes. At the heart sits Huddle’s Instant ClaimsTM, Australian-first software that uses AI technology to simplify and automate the claims process.

Jonathan Buck says, “We’re more of a technology company in some ways than an insurance company because so much of our work is focused on continuously improving our platform. Digitising everything was key to helping us tackle fraud. It means we can automate our fraud management processes and even use other sources of structured data to cross-check the validity of claims. It also means that we’ve taken any human bias out of the claims process – the computer checks your claim and can approve it in less than 60 seconds.”

The startup has set some ambitious targets to shake up the insurance industry, seeking to deconstruct and democratise the traditional financial sector. Huddle’s business model focuses on removing those barriers to trust – including conflicts of interests, human bias and the imbalance of power as large organisations dominate the sector.

As Jason puts it, “Our model is designed to be simple for a reason – we want members to understand our business and make it clear that we won’t profit from making it hard for them to use our services and by denying claims. We take a fixed fee, pay claims fast and give surplus profits to causes our members care about.”

Now, just one year old, Huddle already has more than 10,000 members, with excess profits (that is the surplus funds from low claims) donated to a range of charity and community groups, as chosen by members. This month, Huddle members will donate 1,018 meals to Meals on Wheels NSW and clean water for more than 2,500 families via Oxfam Australia. Among other recipients are sports clubs receiving new kits for their junior teams and new rescue equipment for surf clubs.

Huddle is part of a growing movement of organisations in Australia and around the world committed to the idea that businesses can be a force for good. Huddle is one of more than 2,000 Certified B Corporations worldwide and 200 in Australia. To qualify, Huddle went through a rigorous assessment process to determine their commitment to the highest social and environmental standards, as well as transparency.

Jonathan said their business model is designed to use technology to disrupt the traditional sector – and give consumers a positive alternative.

“Just because we’re more digital doesn’t mean we’re less human. We are focused on prioritising social purpose alongside profit and making sure we’re not depersonalising the experience for our members.”