Mitchell releases 2013 insurance industry predictions

Mitchell, a provider of technology, connectivity and information solutions to the Property and Casualty claims and Collision Repair industries, released predictions for trends related to cloud computing and big data analytics that could affect the insurance industry throughout 2013. Focusing on trends expected to impact an ecosystem that includes repair and body shops, insurance companies, claims adjusters and payers, Mitchell is forecasting experiences workers' compensation, auto casualty and auto physical damage professionals could undergo this year.

"In today's fast paced, competitive business landscape, there is increased pressure on the insurance industry to think creatively about the services they offer and how those services are delivered to maintain a competitive edge," said Erez Nir, CTO at Mitchell. "Cloud computing strategies have been popular in the IT-focused environment. We have embraced cloud computing at Mitchell, in the way we deliver software-as-a-service to our customers as well as in how we consume our own business systems. Beyond the core competencies our industry has, in part due to the complexity and change 2013 will bring, we expect the industry to continue to deploy various cloud and big data strategies to help overcome business and technology challenges."

The broad industry and specific predictions from the company's core Auto Physical Damage, Auto Causality and Workers' Compensation divisions include:

Large-scale trends

More attention will be given to leveraging complex data sets: The ability to incorporate data from multiple sources, such as different areas of a business or business lines, and combine them with external data sources to enable more intelligent decision-making will become central to business operations. In addition to addressing the complexities of big data (e.g. volume, velocity and data management), companies will explore how to incorporate ancillary sources and more sophisticated combinations of data sets to get an edge on the competition.

The demand for cloud computing will increase: In 2012, adoption of cloud platforms and services continued to increase along with interest in a single environment and partner for cloud computing technologies. In 2013, insurance carriers will begin to consolidate cloud computing vendors and realize the benefits of working with a single provider, such as streamlined and accelerated deployment of new offerings, reduced operational costs, and improved data exchange and information sharing.

Micro trends

Recycled parts prices will decrease: We will see a softening of salvage vehicle values globally in 2013. As the European debt crisis continues to outpace our own, the Euro will further soften against the US dollar. This will make it more expensive for Europeans to purchase US-based salvage vehicles, reducing demand. An additional factor impacting salvage values is the increase in the annual rate of new car sales, expected to hit $15 million for 2012. Combining these factors with the 250,000 total loss vehicles expected out of Hurricane Sandy will depress salvage car values in 2013. For consumers, this means that there will be an increase in the availability of recycled parts for vehicle repairs at a lower cost.

The average industry cost to repair auto collision damage will increase. This will occur in part, to the softening of salvage values, putting more borderline vehicles in the 'repairable' column rather than 'total loss' and an overall inflation of labor, parts and paint in 2013. This will also occur from an increase in the cost of raw materials (such as paint mica and chemicals) as well as plastics and steel prices. In addition, we expect to see an increase in average hourly body shop labor charges if the economy continues to recover in 2013.

There will be a rise in healthcare ePayment solutions: More carriers will use ePayment systems to gain a competitive advantage. They will work with the provider community to be better aligned with changes in healthcare regulation that promote eBill, eRemittance and ePayment through electronic funds transfer (EFT). ePayment systems provide the capacity to substantially lower transaction expenses, decrease the burden on adjusters and call centers, and enable similar benefits to accrue to medical provider trading partners.

There will be increased attention on keeping out-of-network costs down: Despite increased efforts to direct injured workers to network providers, many state regulations or employer programs offer the flexibility to use providers of their choice, which puts workers' comp insurance payers in the challenging out-of-network territory. Therefore, such payers will leverage third-party negotiation services to settle out-of-network claims. Tapping into an outside team of skilled negotiators will help workers' comp insurance payers and providers reach mutually beneficial agreements. The negotiation process will be accelerated, and insurance payers will achieve an average of 30 to 40 percent success rates in negotiating out-of-network charges.