Magazine Article | November 20, 2006

Auto Insurer Integrates Digital Camera With Tablet PC

Source: Field Technologies Magazine
Integrated Solutions, December 2006

Auto Insurance Specialists (AIS) is the largest auto insurance broker in California, with more than 400,000 drivers insured. Shopping from over 30 different insurance carriers, AIS can tailor insurance solutions designed to provide consumers with the best combination of price and protection. The company’s 650 employees are located in 24 offices throughout the state.

AIS has experienced rapid growth, but it understands that it must continue to adhere to an exacting level of underwriting standards to maintain relationships with its panel of insurance carriers. In many instances, AIS is required by its major insurance carriers to provide photographs of newly insured vehicles. A minimum of two photos must be taken from opposite corners of the vehicle, with extra photographs documenting any existing damage.

Photos were taken by AIS customer service staff equipped with Polaroid cameras. Once the pictures developed, the customer service staff viewed the photos to determine whether they met the specifications of the insurance carrier. Once verified, company employees completed the customer application form, attached the photos, and mailed the entire package to the appropriate insurance carrier. “We were spending tens of thousands of dollars per month on film,” says Jeff Strack, project manager at AIS. “Our service staff and customers are forced to stand around in the parking lot, waiting for the film to develop. Many times we find that the picture is unacceptable and must be retaken.”


AIS deployed Fujitsu Stylistic Series 4000 tablet PCs to a selection of customer service staff in a pilot project, integrating a digital camera with a mobile computer that weighs approximately three pounds. Using Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, users control the Tablet PC using a digital pen, as well as convert searchable, handwritten documents into typed text for use in other applications through the Microsoft Windows Journal note-taking utility. 

AIS IT developers are working with Microsoft Consulting Services and Lifeview Animation Technologies, Inc. to create an application for the staff to use while photographing vehicles and collecting preliminary data to include in the customer’s insurance application. Lifeview is modifying its digital camera to integrate with the tablet PC by sliding into the PCMCIA slot at the top of the slate. “The camera will face outward, and as the user moves the tablet PC, he will receive a live feed directly to the application,” explains Strack. “To take pictures, the user simply hits one of three buttons on the top right side of the tablet PC.” The picture automatically fills the appropriate spot in the template. If necessary, the AIS representative can use the digital pen on the photograph to circle any damage or make appropriate annotations.