Artificial Intelligence helping drivers get back on the road faster

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Written by: Gary Dransfield, CEO Insurance, Suncorp

Gary DransfieldData has always been at the core of the insurance industry, whether it be for calculating premiums, responding quickly to disasters or accurately determining liability for claims. Typically, when a customer interacts with an insurer, it’s because they’ve gone through a highly stressful incident like a car accident, so they are relying on us to help them get back on their feet as soon as possible.

Every year, Suncorp deals with around 500,000 motor claims from around the country. Thankfully, the large majority don’t result in serious injuries. If you’re fortunate enough to walk away unharmed, the first thing on your mind is getting your car fixed and back on the road quickly.

You can be the most careful driver but, chances are, you will have to make an insurance claim at some point in your life. In the past, this meant walking into a branch, talking on the phone or putting forms in the post.

Today, customers have come to expect not only a faster turnaround, but an easy and seamless self-service experience.

Our ability to improve this experience has now been accelerated thanks to new technologies like artificial intelligence. With AI, we’re able to completely rethink how we, as an insurer, operate and the value we provide to our customers, while being able to drive new ideas and innovation much faster than previously possible.

The customer is at the heart of our business, so when we think about the benefits of AI, we always start with how we can improve our customers’ experience.  We’re transforming to fundamentally change our customer experience, and for insurance claims, this means a faster and simpler service.

We’ve always strived for fast turnarounds. When we launched online self service (which seems like a lifetime ago!), this was a turning point for getting simple claims lodged and completed much faster than ever before.

But we wanted to take this further. How could we get even more customer claims lodged and booked into a repairer within minutes, and ultimately back on the road faster?

We looked to IBM Watson’s Natural Language Classifier to help us analyse the descriptions that customers enter into their claims to quickly and accurately determine liability. In layman’s terms, this means Watson helps our system analyse text and interpret what it means. It doesn’t just look at words, it can understand the intent of the sentence in context. Often when a customer enters the details around an incident, it’s in a conversational way.  Having a system which can understand their description and determine liability means we can fast-track a greater number of customers.

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Watson has helped speed up our digital claims process and in 90 per cent of cases can accurately determine liability. This means within five minutes, the majority of our customers can lodge their claims, pay their excess (or waive it depending on the decision) and book their repairs. Since the digital solution was implemented in June, we have tripled the proportion of customers who are being fast-tracked.

What happens with the other 10 per cent? If the customer hasn’t provided great detail in the description of the accident, then there isn’t much for the system to go on in determining liability. Likewise, with complex multi-vehicle accidents, a customer may need to speak with the consultant to clarify some details. Ultimately for Suncorp, we’ve been able to deliver a better experience for customers, while allowing our consultants to focus on the more complex claims.

It may sound quite simple, but for someone who’s had their day and means of transport completely disrupted, the difference between a few hours and five minutes to get through the process is profound.

At Suncorp, what started as a ‘passion project’ has quickly become core to our business and is making a difference in the lives of our customers. AI is helping us reinvigorate our view of what’s possible and it doesn’t stop with the claims process, our teams have seen the success and are looking for new ways to take that customer experience even further.

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