Internal tech adoption, inflexible legacy systems, and a need to balance automation with the human touch are just some of the challenges for insurers bringing in new tech, but the reward is immense.
With so many innovative technologies available, a group of panellists explored the factors that determine the most fit-for-purpose option that delivers value to the customer and provides maximum ROI during the Reuters Future of Insurance Europe 2021 virtual conference.
Panellists Joel Farvault, Head of Augmented Claims, AXA, Eduardo Caria, Director of Transformation & Efficiency, Grupo Ageas Portugal and Bob Riddler, Account Director, AdvantageGo, discussed how insurers can take advantage of the immense opportunity to leverage the advanced capabilities of new technology, data and AI to shift from payer to partner with a sophisticated, risk prevention insurance model.
Kicking off the session, moderator Susanne Chishti, CEO, FINTECH Circle, asked what panellists are prioritising when it comes to innovative tech and why. Eduardo, the first to answer, comments, “I’m going to start with why, and I start with why because we talk about technology and innovation, and we often get caught up in the technicalities and miss the essence of why we innovate. At Ageas Portugal, we strive to create an emotional and meaningful experience, and I’m a firm believer in customer-centricity. I know that is a terribly overused buzzword, but I really do believe it’s vital and it’s one of our overarching priorities, creating solutions and services that are not only relevant to the customer but also create something that’s great customer experience and engagement, that’s something we really have to keep in mind.”
Eduardo discusses how technology is a fundamental enabler in driving efficiency and competitiveness and how he sees two angles to innovative technology. The first is small breakthrough innovation, where Ageas is working with universities and start-up studios on innovation programmes and platforms. The second angle is incremental innovation, leveraging technology for efficiency and streamlining how his organisation delivers service. Eduardo also chats about how leveraging data analytics, automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Machine Learning (ML) enables insurers to do things that weren’t possible in the past; expanding on this point, Eduardo says, “We want to automate as much as we can. We’re introducing AI, cognitive services, building virtual assistants using speech analytics, looking at sentiment analysis, and really using those tools to support and strongly boost the capacity of our internal people.”
The panel also discusses how prioritising people and supporting them to develop their skills is a fundamental component of successful digital transformation and technology adoption.
Joel comments that Natural Language Processing (NLP) has been a focus when it comes to processing invoices and documents, which takes up valuable time. Joel explains the value of algorithms such as NLP to process documents, extract the proper value element and automate decision making. Speaking about automation in the claims process, Joel comments, “Claim analytics, tackling the topic around data and using machine learning, but machine learning not on the predictive part but more on the recommendation part.”
Turning to Bob, Susanne asks are AdvantageGo is using technology to meet customer needs. Bob outlines that in his view, he has seen three phases in tech application in insurance in the last 20-30 years. First, the focus on policy admin systems, the second phase was around getting a grasp on claims and process efficiency, which still has a way to run, with the last phase focusing on the boom in computing power. With data storage becoming more affordable and off-premise, businesses can quickly scale up and down.
Expanding further, Bob says, “We’re seeing a real focus now on the core of insurance business – on underwriting – and that’s where we’re applying the new technologies. So, cloud compute, AI, ML, and algorithms, all of that we’re now saying, let’s apply that to the core of an insurance business which is to underwrite and understand risk properly.” Bob discusses that where technology previously focused on the expense side of combined ratio, nowadays, technology needs to be applied to loss ratio, giving Underwriters the tools that allow them to lead the business and make the difference.
What are some challenges facing when coming to do with more with data, asks Susanne? Joel comments that data quality is a challenge, specifically around data extraction, because some data is still managed via legacy systems which can hinder access. Joel discusses that defining the right architecture to manage data extraction is vital. The second challenge is around working with unstructured data and data quality. Joel mentions that data management and the process might benefit from a rethink involving all the business stakeholders.
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