Insurers to offer 3D printed service to replace the irreplaceable

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The news will come as a relief to some people

The world’s first jewellery insurance to replace items with 3D printed replicas claims it is set to transform the future of contents insurance claims across a wide range of items.

Thanks to a collaboration 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, and was funded by Innovate UK as part of a Knowledge Transfer Programme.

A render example of a piece for a policyholder


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 per cent against High Street prices, and with very high levels of customer satisfaction.

Paul Fairbrass, Technical Director at SBS Insurance Services, said: 
”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.”

The system works by the insurers using photographs and descriptions of the item to develop CAD models, of which renders are sent to the policyholder, and any requested changes to design can be completed within an hour.

Once the design is signed off, the Cooksongold M080 SLS 3D printer direct metal laser sinters the gold powder, before the item is assembled, polished and hand-finished.

It is then laser hallmarked with a special SBS hallmark at The Assay Office in Birmingham to ensure full traceability and validation of weight and quality.