When most people think about insurance companies, they don’t immediately think of tech. Sudesh Kannan thought the same when he started at Allstate.
“When I walked in, I didn’t realise how much technology is being created here,” he recalls. As a cybersecurity and app security training lead, Kannan works with thousands of employees who develop software for Allstate. Across the company, a diverse workforce is developing new technologies that are reshaping and broadening how Allstate protects customers.
Data scientist Meg Walters believes that insurance and data science have always gone together. As part of a department called D3 — or Data, Discovery and Decision Science — Walters works directly with new machine learning techniques and makes them available to data scientists at Allstate. “I would argue [insurance] is one of the oldest fields of data science,” she says. “Analytics and data science are helping to solve age-old problems in insurance and serve as the foundation for solving new ones. There’s a lot we can do with data and analytics, which is why our department has gone from less than 100 people, when I joined six years ago, to now around 350.”
Allstate uses data to get a more accurate view of customer behaviour, which can add up to rewards for safe driving and savings on their pay-per-mile auto policy, if they are driving less.
Walters has been working on safe driving data for years but has recently taken on projects focused on artificial intelligence. Using AI, Allstate can provide a better customer experience when car accidents happen. “We have a product called QuickFoto Claim, which allows customers to take photos of their damaged vehicle and send those to us instead of waiting for a claims adjuster to come to the vehicle,” she says.
That’s just one example of how the company is using AI to benefit customers. Through research developed with academic partners, Allstate expedites the initial screening of vehicle damage for claims by providing automated insights to the adjuster. This could, for example, help determine “if an image is spliced together from multiple images, which would be indicative of possible fraud,” Walters says. Using AI to screen user-submitted photos for signs of manipulation allows Allstate’s claims adjusters to focus on customer service rather than repetitive tasks.
While Allstate has created tech-based safeguards to protect the data customers share, it’s also educating people about how to be safer in any digital ecosystem. “Technology companies are concerned with things like firewalls,” says Kannan, who teaches employees and consumers cybersecurity best practices. “I’m not telling you that’s wrong, but for example, a recent prominent study found that unintentional privacy incidents are caused by human error – 96% of the time of the total in 2020. It’s somebody clicking the wrong button.” That’s why Allstate has set up programs like Cyber Security for Kids to make sure young people who are vulnerable to cybersecurity attacks are informed and protected. “What we do as a company is relevant,” Kannan says. “We’re not just looking at profitability here, we want to protect people.”
Teaching children about cybersecurity isn’t the only way Allstate is encouraging the next generation to get involved with tech. Kokila Nagaraj, senior manager of collaboration and communication, works to promote diversity in tech. From going into schools to teach girls about careers in technology to partnering with women’s business groups to help train CEOs to use technology, Nagaraj is proud that her job allows her to support women in tech. “We want our younger generation to learn as they’re growing up that there are interesting roles within the IT sector,” she says.
Allstate has set up several strategies to make space for new voices. It’s developing a three-year inclusive diversity and equity strategy overseen by the board of directors and the chief inclusive diversity and equity officer. Allstate also supports 11 employee resource groups that include more than 9,000 members. Many of these groups are focused on equity and inclusion.
Allstate is creating the future of insurance, not only through evolving technology, but also through inclusive practices. And the company is committed to expanding its skilled and diverse tech talent to keep consumers safe, secure and in good hands for years to come.
To join Allstate in building the future of protection, visit AllstateLeadershipJobs.com.
Rosa Escandón is a writer, comedian, and educator in Brooklyn, NY. When she isn’t performing, she is writing about the entertainment industry, food, and tech.
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