(Flickr/Marco Verch)
  • Discovery launched Discovery Business Insurance on Tuesday, with the promise to help especially smaller businesses become "healthier" when it comes to risk.
  • It plans to help small businesses reduce their risk and so their premiums.
  • The tools it will use to do so include drones equipped with thermal cameras to spot fire risks, and smart glasses that can put experts on the scene virtually.

Discovery Business Insurance will help make businesses "healthier" in their risk profile, the Discovery group promised on Tuesday – in part through the use of high-tech tools.

Much like Discovery promises to encourage people to be healthier (and so manage its own risk as their health insurer) the new business insurance unit hopes to help its customers reduce its risk.

One way of doing that: drones equipped with thermal cameras.

"Drones allow us to overcome human constraints, they allow us to get to places the human eye usually doesn't see, and in a short space of time," says Zuriel Naiker, the unit's head.

Drones with thermal cameras takes that one step further, allowing engineers to see overloaded electrical circuits that could start fires or structural weaknesses.

Over time it will also allow Discovery to monitor how a property ages and develops, and so better anticipate trouble.

"The ability to collect more data, in terms of volume and better accuracy is critical," says Naiker.

Discovery's other units have used telematics in cars to monitor how customers drive, and encourage regular health screenings.

The concept is roughly the same, Naiker says – gather data, encourage changes that reduce risk, and so offer lower premiums.

Also in the company's technology arsenal is smart glasses that will allow an on-site risk engineer to loop in, in real time, fire experts, chemical engineers and other specialists for advice and recommendations.

In the future Discovery Business Insurance anticipates using tools such as augmented reality and artificial intelligence, as it seeks to better manage risk.

Risk assessment for customers starts with an online self-assessment tool, which also provides recommendations on how to reduce risk. Depending on the nature of the industry, level of cover, and other factors, risk engineers may be dispatched to business premises. 

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