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A.I. insurance firm Tractable marks ‘unicorn’ status as it expands from cars into property claims

June 16, 2021, 11:01 PM UTC

If you’ve ever had your house damaged in a big storm, one of the most frustrating things can be the time it takes to receive compensation from your insurance company.

On average it takes more than two days to even get a call back from an insurance agent—longer after a serious natural disaster, according to data from C3 Group, a company that specializes in insurance loss adjustment.

It takes another three days on average to actually get a loss adjustor out to your property. Then, once a claim is submitted, it takes up to 30 days for the insurance company to make a decision whether to pay or deny it, C3 says.

Now, a London-based startup is hoping to cut critical time out of this process by using artificial intelligence to give insurers the ability to estimate monetary damage through photos that homeowners take themselves. The company, Tractable, has just raised a further $60 million in venture capital funding to help them build this new capability.

The funding round values Tractable at $1 billion, according to the company, meaning it has achieved “unicorn” status. It is the first British computer vision-oriented startup to do so, according to the company. The new funding was provided by Insight Partners, a venture capital firm based in New York City, and Georgian, an investment firm in Toronto, both of which have invested in Tractable previously. With the new investment, the startup has raised $115 million in total venture capital funding since being founded in 2014.

Tractable’s technology is already being used extensively in auto claims, where, after an accident, insurers offers customers the ability to photograph the damage with an app on their mobile phones and obtain an instant estimate for how much the repair will cost or whether the car is a write off.

The company says the 20 of the world’s 100 largest auto insurers are using its technology. These include Geico, the U.S.’s second largest motor insurer, Tokio Marine and Mitsui Sumitomo in Japan, and Covea in France, among others. Alex Dalyac, Tractable’s co-founder and chief executive officer, said the company assesses millions of vehicles for damage each year and that it currently has annual revenues “well into eight figures.” He said in the past two years, the company’s revenues have grown 600%.

Robin Challand, the claims director at British car insurer Ageas UK, says the company piloted Tractable’s technology in 2016 and put it into wide use in 2019 and 2020 through the company’s own Photo Assist mobile app.

Photo of Tractable founders
Tactable co-founders Aldex Dalyac (left), Razvan Ranca, and Adrien Cohen (right).
Photo courtesy of Tractable

Challand says Ageas liked that Tractable allowed the company to give customers claims decisions within miniutes and, in the case of complete write-offs, meant that many customers might receive payment in as little as three days.

That leads to higher customer satisfaction and retention. It also, critically, saves insurers the time and expense of having to send human loss estimators out to inspect the damage. The technology also enables insurers to streamline the process of getting the car sent to the best authorized repair garage and helps that garage order the right parts and prepare to carry out the repair, improving turnaround times.

Tractable says it is beginning to move from using still images to assess car damage to analyzing short videos. Videos contain far more information than a set of still photos. This can allow Tractable’s A.I. to avoid issues with reflections or shadows that can confuse its damage assessment algorithms. It’s also much harder to fake damage in videos than in photographs, providing an important check on potential insurance fraud.

Dalyac says the company will use the money from its latest financing round to expand its technology into new market segments. The first of these is used car parts and recycled vehicles. Tractable is already helping LKQ North America, the world’s largest car recycler, determine how much it should pay for the used cars it buys and what parts from those cars may be salvageable for resale. Now, Tractable wants to expand more heavily into that area.

Challand says Ageas is already exploring whether it can use Tractable to help supply recycled car parts to the repair garages in its network, something that will help Ageas meet its corporate sustainability goals.

“We have a green car parts program, where we use parts saved from one car to fix another after it’s been involved in an accident,” he says. “We are looking into whether it’s possible to feed in the data on green parts to Tractable so the app can instantly see if green repairs are an option.”

Beyond recycled parts and scrapped vehicles, Dalyac says Tractable is looking to expand into the market for secondhand cars more generally, offering its technology to used car dealerships to help them assess what they should offer on purchases and trade-ins.

Then there is property insurance, where Tractable plans to offer its technology to insurers to enable their customers to get instant claims assessments for exterior damage to buildings, not including roofs. (Photographing roofs is too difficult and dangerous for most customers; besides, there are other companies offering insurers’ computer vision technology to assess roof damage based on drone and other aerial imagery, Dalyac says.)

The company is starting an initial pilot program with an unnamed Japanese home insurer that it says should be in place before the autumn Pacific typhoon season.

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