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Though the concept of insurance has existed for centuries, the changes the industry has gone through in just the last decade may have been some of the most consequential since the introduction of the internet. Today, one of the biggest driving forces in insurance is the implementation of automation and how it’s changing a number of tried-but-true industry processes and routines. Insurers continuously pursue a paradox that has existed in the business world for generations – consistently provide exceptional customer service while simultaneously looking for ways to lower overhead and operating costs. The traditional response for insurers to achieve the first half of the paradox was to simply hire more customer service agents. Although hiring more humans to answer the phone might end up with less wait times, increased customer satisfaction is not guaranteed, and operating costs are not lowered.
A solution that many organizations are looking towards and also adopting now is the automation of common processes and systems. Taking the most repetitive tasks found in day-to-day operations, and automate them using intelligent, cognitive based software technology to replicate human labor, that leads to the reduction of repetition for humans, reduction of errors and gives time for employees to do more meaningful and higher-valued work. It’s important to keep in mind that while the implementation of cognitive driven automation does not replace humans, but rather it augments humans’ intelligence and amplify its reach.
There are six areas where we’re seeing that automation is transforming the industry:
- Smart underwriting
Insurers increasingly know more about their customers and their habits, which allows them to offer products and services individualized to their specific needs and demands. For instance, a married couple with a teenager daughter or son could actively be offered and educated on new driver auto insurance options. Another example is a recent homebuyer could be actively educated on home and property insurance, and ultimately driving to a purchase of homeowners and/or property insurance. Insurers are looking for new ways to leverage cognitive to develop new offerings and gain market share.
- Telemetric data collection
As big data continues to get bigger every day, in one example, sensory data from automobiles gives us insights into driving habits and trends that we are just scratching the surface on understanding and making use of. A simple dongle that plugs into the the OBD port of a modern automobile and paired with a mobile phone, can collect large amounts of automobile and location-based data to benefit both the driver and the insurer. Insurers like Progressive are already utilizing this technology for many of their auto insurance clients. The benefits are twofold – the dongle provides the driver with insights such as trip information, gas mileage, and mechanical information about the automobile. The insurer gains insights as well that tells them what kind of driver their client is – does the driver observe the speed limit? Does the driver frequently drive on more dangerous roads? Does the driver use their mobile phone as the car is moving frequently? All of these questions can be answered by the type of coverage and rates for a specific driver is offered. This information is processed, cognitively, and done with little to no human intervention.
- Instant claims processing
Mobile apps are a constant in our every day lives as is a toothbrush or a microwave. While insurance apps are nothing new, they have advanced to the point where much of the claims process is expedited and automated before a human is involved. A claims process for something like an automobile accident can start instantly through a photo of auto damage submitted through the mobile app. This photo can be analyzed and processed with AI to decipher the exact damage to the automobile and give the claims agent a head start in providing relief to the client. In the case of a severe accident, an alert to the authorities could be triggered from aforementioned telematics OBD sensor, a drone could be dispatched to survey the damage safely from above. Sounds very futuristic and maybe a little farfetched, but it is already happening already in the industry.
- Blockchain for cars
As blockchain continues to find new ways to disrupt the insurance industry, auto insurance is no exception. To further expedite and automate the claims process after an accident, a simple photo of a license plate and shared through the mobile app, can instantly access and share the personal data necessary as part of the accident reporting process, thanks to a blockchain. Benefits of moving DMV auto registration to a secure ledger include reducing costs involved in resolving disputes, lowering the settlement time for claims to be decided after an accident, and simplifying the overall process and complexity of what exactly happens after an automobile accident.
- Chatbots leading to painless customer service calls
Virtual assistants (VAs) in insurance have come a long way. Gone are the days when their functionality was mostly limited to “press 1 or say English.” As they are becoming commonplace in our homes with Alexa, Siri, and Google Home, insurers are taking them seriously as well, and their ability and functionality has grown considerably. Cognitive chatbots have been used to automate the process of the most frequently asked questions from customers, which frees up human customer service agents to handle the more individualized, specific requests. Chatbots are also being used as an advisor to customer service agents, analyzing their voice or text conversation with customers in real time, giving guidance and the best possible responses to the customer agents, based on existing data previously analyzed and processed.
- The bottom line: Lowering costs
Using RPA to automate and streamline several of the processes that insurers repeat most often when it comes to claims and customer service leads an overall reduction of both customers’ bills as well as the operating costs of the insurer. This is accomplished by lowering the amount of human hours dedicated to these issues prior to implementing an automated virtual agent, or thanks to something like secure blockchain ledgers, increasing overall accuracy of information exchanged during a claims process. Or, using the vast amounts of IoT data collected from telematics sensors allows these insurers to make data-driven, better decisions that impact their business and their customers. Add these points up and you’re both lowering the costs for the insurer, and able to turn that into savings and satisfaction for your customer. Paradox achieved!
Learn more about how RPA is transforming the insurance industry, here.