What happens when a family heirloom or unique piece of jewellery is stolen or lost? What chance your insurance company could replace it truly ‘like for like’? The world’s first 3D printed jewellery insurance claims have now proved that it is possible for insurers to replace the irreplaceable. What’s more, the use of this technology is now likely to transform the future of contents insurance claims across a wide range of items.
Thanks to a ground-breaking collaboration it has brokered between Birmingham City University’s Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre, Cooksongold and The Assay Office Birmingham, claims specialists SBS Insurance Services has successfully replaced a range of bespoke items – a unique gold bangle, pendant and several sets of gold earrings – through the use of 3D printing technology, much to the delight of the policyholders who had assumed they would be lost forever.
This is a major innovation in the insurance industry which has faced increasing costs and complaints around jewellery claims. The project was funded by Innovate UK as part of a Knowledge Transfer Programme.
Results from the first trials of this approach show that SBS Insurance Services are able to replace items faster and cheaper, with savings of 30-50% against High Street prices, and with very high levels of customer satisfaction.
Paul Fairbrass, Technical Director at SBS Insurance Services, says: “The major problem for insurers is that they are often faced with valuing and settling claims for high value items based on vague descriptions and old records, such as photographs, out-dated valuations or old sales invoices. Once an item has been validated, the insurer must find a matching equivalent from a limited range on offer from retailers.
This can be impossible with bespoke items or family heirlooms. “Alternatively, a bespoke item can be manufactured using wax casts to try and replicate the item. But this has been expensive, cumbersome, and it makes the claims process very slow for the customer who might, even then, not be pleased with the replacement item.
Consequently, many insurers opt for a cash or voucher settlement – which doesn’t always achieve the best outcome for the customer or the best value solution for the insurer. We’ve now proved that 3D printing completely changes what is possible.”
“This innovation is not just relevant to jewellery claims. The longer term impact of 3D printing technology for other insurance claims is likely to be hugely significant. The ability to have required parts and components printed on demand will reduce product obsolescence factors, and enable more economical fixes on many accidental damage claims for appliances. Items which currently are just written off may be able to be repaired very cost-effectively. This is particularly relevant in our expertise of household contents claims.
We have tested and embedded this technology in jewellery claims and are now ready to roll this out to other products areas.”