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Systems and methods for home inventory and insurance

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Title: Systems and methods for home inventory and insurance.
Abstract: A method of operating a home inventory and insurance system includes providing a processor, providing a home inventory database coupled to the processor, and providing an insurance database coupled to the processor. The method also includes receiving data related to an item purchased by a user, determining, using the processor and the insurance database, a policy cap for an insurance policy associated with the user, and determining, using the processor and the insurance database, that adding the item to the insurance policy will result in a value of items covered by the insurance policy exceeding the policy cap by a predetermined amount. The method further includes providing, using the processor, an insurance quote for an updated insurance policy having a new policy cap greater than or equal to the policy cap plus the predetermined amount. ...


Inventors: Andre Rene BUENTELLO, Bradly Jay BILLMAN, Gail Ann BENNETT
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120095783 - Class: 705 4 (USPTO) - 04/19/12 - Class 705 
Data Processing: Financial, Business Practice, Management, Or Cost/price Determination > Automated Electrical Financial Or Business Practice Or Management Arrangement >Insurance (e.g., Computer Implemented System Or Method For Writing Insurance Policy, Processing Insurance Claim, Etc.)

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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120095783, Systems and methods for home inventory and insurance.

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CROSS-REFERENCES TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application is a continuation of U.S. patent application Ser. No. 12/487,866, filed on Jun. 19, 2009, now issued as U.S. Pat. No. ______, the disclosure of which is hereby incorporated by reference in its entirety.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Insurance is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent loss, and may be defined as the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for a premium. An insurer is a company that sells insurance. An insurance rate is a factor used to determine the amount, called the premium, to be charged for a certain amount of insurance coverage. Adding personal property items to an insurance policy is a manual and time consuming process and is often neglected by the owner of the items.

A home inventory of personal property items is useful in conjunction with insuring those items. A user may have a handwritten inventory, but this may be destroyed in a loss that also destroys the items. The user may store the inventory in a difficult to access location, such as a safe deposit box, which makes updating the inventory burdensome. Maintaining a home inventory is a time consuming process and therefore many people do not maintain a home inventory or keep a home inventory up to date. This may leave some of their personal property items unprotected by insurance.

SUMMARY

OF THE INVENTION

Information may be received regarding one or more items purchased or otherwise acquired by a user, and the item(s) may be added to an electronic home inventory maintained in storage by an institution system and the item(s) may be added to an insurance policy issued by the institution system.

In an implementation, the institution system may receive information about the item(s) from the merchant who sold the item(s), an appraiser, the user (e.g., who provides information by a website, by providing a receipt, etc.), from a barcode that is provided on the receipt associated with the purchase from the merchant, by a barcode generated by the user (e.g., using data from the receipt and other information from the user), and/or via data from a financial card transaction directed to the purchase of the item(s).

In an implementation, the user may be provided with a listing of the items that they have purchased or otherwise acquired using the data provided to the institution system, and can select which items are to be included in the home inventory and which items are to be added to an insurance policy.

This summary is provided to introduce a selection of concepts in a simplified form that are further described below in the detailed description. This summary is not intended to identify key features or essential features of the claimed subject matter, nor is it intended to be used to limit the scope of the claimed subject matter.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The foregoing summary, as well as the following detailed description of illustrative embodiments, is better understood when read in conjunction with the appended drawings. For the purpose of illustrating the embodiments, there are shown in the drawings example constructions of the embodiments; however, the embodiments are not limited to the specific methods and instrumentalities disclosed. In the drawings:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of an implementation of a system that may be used to provide home inventory and insurance;

FIG. 2 is an operational flow of an implementation of a method that may be used to provide home inventory and insurance;

FIG. 3 is an operational flow of another implementation of a method that may be used to provide home inventory and insurance;

FIG. 4 is an operational flow of another implementation of a method that may be used to provide home inventory and insurance;

FIG. 5 is an operational flow of another implementation of a method that may be used to provide home inventory and insurance;

FIG. 6 is an operational flow of another implementation of a method that may be used to provide home inventory and insurance; and

FIG. 7 is a block diagram of an example computing environment in which example embodiments and aspects may be implemented.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

OF THE INVENTION

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of an implementation of a system that may be used to provide home inventory and insurance. An institution system 105 may be associated with an institution which may be any type of entity capable of providing an insurance policy and maintaining in storage a home inventory of items. For example, the institution may be any type of insurance company, financial services company, etc.

A user 185 and an associated user computing device 187 are shown, along with a merchant 175 and a financial card issuer 170. The user 185 may make a purchase from the merchant 175 using a financial card 189 and insure item(s) associated with the purchase with the institution system 105. The institution system 105 may also generate an inventory of the items purchased as a home inventory and store the home inventory in storage, such as storage 108 or one more data sources 139. In an implementation, the home inventory of the user 185 may be associated in storage (e.g., in a database) of the institution system 105 with the insurance policy of the user 185 that insures the items in the home inventory.

The financial card issuer 170 may issue the financial card 189 and/or process transactions associated with the financial card 189. The financial card issuer 170 may be an entity that provides services pertaining to aspects and behaviors of financial cards. It is contemplated that the institution system 105 may handle such aspects and/or behaviors of financial cards using a financial card processor 130 for example, and that the financial card issuer 170 may not be used.

The financial card 189 may be a credit card or a prepaid credit card, for example. A credit card is a system of payment in which money is not removed from the user\'s account after every transaction. The financial card issuer 170, which may be an entity associated with the institution system 105 or a third party, lends money to the user 185 to be paid to the merchant 175. A prepaid credit card (referred to herein as a “prepaid card”) is not really a credit card, as no credit is offered by the financial card issuer 170. The user 185 spends money which has been “stored” via a prior deposit by the user 185 or someone else, such as a parent or employer. However, it carries a credit card brand (e.g., Visa or MasterCard) and can be used in similar ways. After obtaining a prepaid card, the user 185 loads it with any amount of money and then uses the prepaid card to spend the money. In addition to a credit card or a prepaid card, the financial card 189 may be any type of payment device such as a debit card, a stored value card, a department store credit card, a mobile device, an RFID (radio-frequency identification) device, or a near-field communications device, for example.

The user 185 may use the financial card 189 to make a purchase at the merchant 175. As described further herein, the institution system 105 may receive and analyze transaction data associated with the purchase. The institution system 105 may send a notice to the user 185, e.g. via email, instant messaging, telephone, facsimile, mail, SMS (short message service), MMS (multimedia messaging service), a proprietary application residing on the user computing device 187, etc., asking if the user 185 would like to add the item(s) to a home inventory and/or obtain insurance coverage for the item(s) pertaining to the purchase. The notice may request the user send a photo of the item(s) or documentation pertaining to the item(s) to the institution system 105. The notice may be sent to a computing device associated with the user 185, such as the user computing device 187.

As described further herein, information may be received at the institution system 105 regarding one or more items purchased (or otherwise acquired) by the user 185, and the item(s) may be added to an electronic home inventory (e.g., maintained in storage by the institution system 105) and the item(s) may be added to an insurance policy (e.g., a homeowner\'s insurance policy or rider to the policy issued by the institution system 105). In an implementation, the institution system 105 may receive information about the item(s) from the merchant 175 who sold the item(s), an appraiser, the user 185 (e.g., who provides information by a website, by providing a receipt, etc.), from a barcode that is provided on the receipt associated with the purchase from the merchant 175, by a barcode generated by the user 185 (e.g., using data from the receipt and other information from the user 185), and/or via data (e.g., level 3 credit card data, etc.) from a financial card 189 transaction directed to the purchase of the item(s). The user 185 may be provided with a listing of the items that they have purchased or acquired using the data provided to the institution system 105, and can select which items are to be included in the home inventory and which items are to be added to an insurance policy.

The institution system 105 may include a user interface module 120, an insurance engine 121, an inventory engine 126, and a data source access engine 137. The user interface module 120 may generate and format one or more pages of content 119 as a unified graphical presentation that may be provided to the user computing device 187 as an output from the insurance engine 121 and/or the inventory engine 126. In an implementation, the page(s) of content 119 may be provided to the user computing device 187 via a secure website 118 associated with the institution system 105.

In an implementation, instead of hosting the website 118, the institution system 105 may comprise a conventional application server hosting a proprietary online service accessible only by a private network. In any event, the institution system 105 may have appropriate security mechanisms in place to prevent unauthorized third parties from intercepting the user\'s information.

The user 185 may be an individual who owns an insurance product (also may be referred to herein as a policy) or other account that may be provided by or held by the institution associated with the institution system 105. The user 185 may provide data to the institution system 105 via the user computing device 187. The user computing device 187 may be a handheld computing device such as a personal digital assistant (PDA) or a mobile phone, for example, or any type of personal computer (PC). The user computing device 187 and the institution system 105 may be connected over a network. The user 185 may communicate with the institution system 105 by way of a communications network such as an intranet, the Internet, a local area network (LAN), a wide area network (WAN), a wireless fidelity (WiFi) network, a public switched telephone network (PSTN), a cellular network, a voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) network, and the like. An example user computing device is described with respect to FIG. 6. The user 185 may also communicate with the institution system 105 by phone, email, instant message, text message, web chat, facsimile, mail, and the like.

The merchant 175 may be any entity that may sell an item to the user 185. The user 185, as well as the institution system 105 and the financial card issuer 170, may be in communication with the merchant 175 via a communications network. During the authorization of a transaction, the merchant 175 may send data associated with the purchase, such as amount, merchant name, merchant category code (MCC), and financial card number, for example, to the financial card issuer 170 in an authorization message for verification and processing. An MCC is a number assigned to a business and is used to classify the business by the type of goods or services it provides. In an implementation, the authorization message may comprise additional data such as an itemized listing of the purchased items.

The institution system 105 may have the ability to interact with information that may be maintained and/or provided by the merchant 175, e.g., information pertaining to purchases made by the user 185. Additionally, the financial card issuer 170 and the user 185 may be in communication with the institution system 105 via a communications network.

In an implementation, the user 185 may have a barcode processor 188 which may comprise any type of device that can read a barcode on a receipt or an item, generate a barcode for a receipt or an item, and/or transmit a barcode to the user computing device 187 or the institution system 105. The barcode may contain information about items purchased or otherwise acquired by the user 185, as described further herein.

In an implementation, the user 185 may provide photo(s) or documentation to the institution system 105 about the item(s) purchased that they would like to add to a home inventory and/or insure. The user 185 may use an image generator, comprising a scanner for example, to generate a digital image of the item(s), receipt, proof of purchase, or other documentation. It is contemplated that any device that is capable of generating a digital image may be used to make the digital image(s). Additional devices that may be used in the generation of a digital image include a digital camera, a photocopier, a fax machine, and the like, for example.

The user 185 may transmit the digital image to the institution system 105 via the user computing device 187. The institution system 105 may use the digital image to generate or update a home inventory of the user 185 and/or generate or revise a premium quote for insuring the item(s) purchased by the user 185 or finalize insurance for the item(s). If a digital image is received, the insurance engine 121 may use any known image processing software or other application(s) to obtain the data from the digital image. The data may be used in the generation and/or updating of a home inventory and a premium quote. Alternatively, the user 185 may provide the photo, receipt, proof of purchase, or other documentation about the item(s) to the institution system 105 by any other electronic or physical techniques.

As described further herein, the insurance engine 121 may receive the transaction data pertaining to the purchase (or data relating to items that have been acquired by the user 185), which may include a receipt, a proof of purchase, and/or other documentation, and generate a premium quote using a premium generator 124. The premium generator 124 may use any techniques(s) for generating a premium quote for insuring the item(s). The premium generator 124 may use data retrieved from data source(s) 139 by a data source access engine 137. Additionally, the premium generator 124 may request and receive information pertaining to the item(s) from the user 185 and/or the merchant 175. This information may be used in generation of the premium quote. After retrieving or otherwise receiving the data from the various sources, the premium generator 124 may use tools, applications, and aggregators, for example, to generate a premium quote for insurance of the item(s). The premium quote may be provided to the user 185, who may accept the premium quote.

The insurance engine 121 may comprise an insurance processor 122 that may receive and analyze transaction data as described herein. The insurance processor 122 may also send a request to the user 185 requesting instructions regarding insuring items the user may have purchased with the financial card 189 or otherwise acquired. The insurance processor 122 may receive instructions from the user 185 and act on the instructions accordingly.

The inventory engine 126 may receive the transaction data pertaining to the purchase (or data relating to items that have been acquired by the user 185), request instructions from the user 185 as to whether the items are to be added to a home inventory, and/or generate a home inventory or update an existing home inventory comprising a listing of the items purchased and/or indicated by the user 185 to be included in the home inventory.

As described further herein, the inventory engine 126 may comprise an inventory generator 129 that may generate and maintain a home inventory (e.g., an inventory list of the items), as described further herein. The home inventory may comprise items purchased by the user 185 with the financial card 189, as well as items that the user may add to the inventory list, e.g., via the website 118. The inventory generator 129 may use data retrieved from data source(s) 139 by a data source access engine 137. Additionally, the inventory generator 129 may request and receive information pertaining to the item(s) from the user 185 and/or the merchant 175. This information may be used in generation or updating of the home inventory. After retrieving or otherwise receiving the data from the various sources, the inventory generator 129 may use tools, applications, and aggregators, for example, to generate a home inventory of the item(s). The home inventory may be provided to the user 185, who may review and revise the home inventory in an implementation.

The inventory engine 126 may comprise an inventory processor 127 that may receive and analyze transaction data as described herein. The inventory processor 127 may also send a request to the user 185 requesting instructions regarding adding items the user 185 may have purchased with the financial card 189 or otherwise acquired by the user 185 to the home inventory. The inventory processor 122 may receive instructions from the user 185 and act on the instructions accordingly. The inventory processor 127 may store the home inventory in storage 108 or the data source(s) 139.

Because the home inventory is maintained by the institution system 105 and is electronically accessible by the user 185, the home inventory is secure, readily available, and can be updated by the user 185 and/or the institution system 105. The home inventory provides legible, comprehensive item listings for insurance claim settlements in the event of a loss of the items. For example, the home inventory could be made accessible immediately to a claims adjuster in the event of a loss. The home inventory would be current, legible, and immediately available to begin the settlement process. The home inventory may be continuously updated and maintained to provide the most current information about items of the user 185.

The insurance engine 121 and the inventory engine 126 have access to data, files, and documents pertaining to the user 185 as well as any other data, files, and documents that are currently stored by the institution system 105 as well as external data, files, and documents and that may be useful in generating premium quotes, writing insurance policies, and generating and maintaining inventory lists such as home inventories.

The institution system 105 has the ability to retrieve information from one or more data sources 139 via a data source access engine 137. Data pertaining to the user 185, the user\'s home inventory, the user\'s insurance policies, and/or the user account(s) may be retrieved from data source(s) 139 and/or external data sources. The retrieved data may be stored centrally, perhaps in storage 108. Other information may be provided to the institution system 105 from the user 185 and/or the merchant 175.

Data source(s) 139 may contain data, metadata, email, files, and/or documents that the institution system 105 maintains pertaining to the user 185, such as personal data such as name, physical address, email address, etc., home inventory data such as listings of items and data associated with item (e.g., item purchase price, item acquisition date, merchant or other entity item acquired from, where the item is placed in the user\'s house, etc.), insurance policy data such as items covered, premiums, and coverage amounts and limits, as well as other account information. The institution system 105 may access this information when generating premium quotes, writing insurance policies, or maintaining inventory lists, for example.

A user access system may be communicatively coupled to the insurance engine 121 and the inventory engine 126 and may be configured to send machine-readable instructions to the insurance engine 121 and the inventory engine 126. As mentioned above, the institution system 105 may provide a unified graphical presentation output. The unified graphical presentation may be transmitted to the user access system. In an implementation, the unified graphical presentation may be combined with other materials and transmitted to the user 185. In an implementation, the unified graphical presentation is received by the user access system and transmitted directly to the user 185 without the inclusion of any other materials.

The user access system may be implemented as a web server in an implementation. The user access system, through the use of any suitable interactive web technology, provides an interactive experience to the user 185 through which access to insurance and inventory data and status and related data can be accomplished. The user 185 may enter information into the web pages via a web browser on the user computing device 187. Any technology that provides interactivity through a web browser is considered to be within the scope of the present discussion and may include, without limitation, Hyper-Text Mark-Up Language (HTML), Dynamic HTML (DHTML), JavaScript, and Ajax.

The institution system 105 may include any combination of systems and subsystems such as electronic devices including, but not limited to, computers, servers, databases, or the like. The electronic devices may include any combination of hardware components such as processors, databases, storage drives, registers, cache, random access memory (RAM) chips, data buses, or the like and/or software components such as operating systems, database management applications, or the like.

The institution system 105 may comprise one or more computing devices 106. The computing device(s) 106 may have one or more processors 107, storage 108 (e.g., storage devices, memory, etc.), and software modules 109. The computing device(s) 106, including its processor(s) 107, storage 108, and software modules 109, may be used in the performance of the techniques and operations described herein.

Examples of software modules 109 may include modules that may be used in conjunction with generating a premium quote and sending the premium quote to the user 185, issuing an insurance policy, maintaining a home inventory (e.g., an inventory list), generating web page content for display, and receiving instructions from the user 185, for example. While specific functionality is described herein as occurring with respect to specific modules, the functionality may likewise be performed by more, fewer, or other modules. An example computing device and its components are described in more detail with respect to FIG. 6.

FIG. 2 is an operational flow of an implementation of a method 200 that may be used to provide home inventory and insurance. At 210, a user 185 may purchase or otherwise acquire an item, e.g. from a merchant 175, as a gift, etc. At 220, the user 185 may forward a receipt, proof of purchase, and/or other documentation pertaining to the purchase and/or acquisition of the item to the institution system 105, via email, a website, mail, facsimile, instant message, text message, web chat, etc.

In an implementation, the institution system 105 may obtain item data for the purchase, e.g., by contacting the merchant 175 associated with the purchase and/or by contacting the user 185. In an implementation, the institution system 105 may request from the user 185 and/or the merchant 175 a list of the particular items that were purchased and their associated purchase prices and other information such as purchase date and a description of the item. Alternatively or additionally, the institution system 105 may ask the user 185 for a copy (e.g., via facsimile or digital image sent by email or via a website) of the receipt associated with the purchase, and may use the receipt to identify the particular items that were purchased and their associated purchase prices and other information.



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120095783 A1
Publish Date
04/19/2012
Document #
13083533
File Date
04/09/2011
USPTO Class
705/4
Other USPTO Classes
International Class
06Q40/08
Drawings
8



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