INTERVIEW: AI bringing insurance industry closer to customers

August 3, 2019 • Artificial Intelligence, Features, Top Stories

INTERVIEW_ AI bringing insurance industry closer to customers

Anton Keet, Head of Risk Services at 1Life

The insurance industry is synonymous with outdated processes, tedious paperwork and slow turnaround times. However, there’s one company that’s attempting to digitally transform their organisation in order to better serve customers. That company is life insurance provider, 1Life. 

IT News Africa’s Jenna Cook had the opportunity to chat with Anton Keet, Head of Risk Services at 1Life, about the collaboration of insurance and AI. Here’s what transpired: 

How is technology changing the insurance sector?

Digital disruption continues to change the game in the insurance industry, where insurers are revising their business models in order to stay relevant. One key change in this space is the intrinsic focus on the claims process – ensuring businesses are better able to expedite claim turnaround times, remove human error as far as possible — ensuring that customers’ interactions with the business are quicker and more convenient.

In fact, a recent McKinsey report indicated that automation of claims can reduce the cost of a claims journey by as much as 30 per cent. Furthermore, research suggests that a large incumbent could more than double profits over 5 years by digitising existing business.

The insurance industry’s technology evolution is well underway. Insurtech is making a meaningful impact on risk management and insurance, with plenty of potential left to explore.

What is Robot Process Automation (RPA) and how it is applied to this industry? 

RPA is the software technology that use’s Artificial Intelligence to perform tasks – like controlling desktop-based applications, collecting items from numerous databases – dependant on requirements, feeding the gathered data to certain applications and analysing the data that is already gathered from previous processes based on the current scenario.

Robotic and cognitive automation across the insurance value chain is significant. Claims processing is a perfect example given that it is data and document intensive – where lengthy, time-consuming manual processes can be troublesome to both provider and customer, delaying the timely response that customers desire when they file a claim. 

RPA, when applied correctly, offers better customer experience, less documentation, quicker turnaround, more productive claims agents, less processing time etc. 

1Life is working on processing claims in just 3 minutes. How is technology able to process a claim and payout in such a short amount of time?

When a claim is requested, the platform triggers a series of events that automatically and simultaneously cross-check all relevant information to ensure that there are no anomalies and that all information is correct and available. 

For example, while one robotic process is checking that all rules were followed (according to what has been set up), another is checking the death certificate against a name and ID number, while API links to specific databases are verifying further information. 

Once a claim is verified (this happens in 3 minutes or less), the system comes to a conclusion either for immediate payment or to be referred to a consultant for follow up.

This process ensures that 1Life is able to not only serve their customers’ needs in unparalleled timeframes by streamlining processes but, more so, that they are eliminating potential errors that arise from manual processing of such claims.

Will the RPA target specific consumers, if so, who?

We are piloting this technology within the funeral insurance space – given the need to fulfil payment as quickly as possible with this kind of event-based insurance. The technology allows us to pay out selected funeral claims in as little as 3 minutes. 

By eliminating this substantial manual processing by consultants, we will be enabling our consultants to focus on what matters most – servicing customers’ immediate needs.  

With time and through ongoing machine learning – this will give us access to even more granular detail to further enhance the business of long-term insurance and create much more opportunity for speed and efficiency.

How will this affect customer service going forward?

It will improve customer service by reducing the turnaround time in making a claims decision, as well as in the payout of such claims – critical to the consumer in a time of need.

As such, consumers will feel the benefit of RPA when they need to file a funeral claim with 1Life. While dealing with the loss of a loved one is a terrible time for the consumer – RPA aims at reducing the admin and ensuring they have the funds they need as soon as possible, to provide a dignified farewell. 

How will consumers gain access to 1Life’s RPA?

RPA is not something that is necessarily accessed but rather, it is a process that enables a more convenient outcome for the consumer when they need it most. By providing a quick decision on a funeral claim, we are limiting the time consumers need to wait for their claim to be paid out – this is critical in terms of funeral claims where immediacy and reducing admin intensity is life-changing for the consumer. 

What about the human touch?

We can’t deny that human touch is required within customer servicing organisations so that service offerings don’t appear cold and impersonal. However, there are certain functions that require meticulous and precise evaluation. 

One such function is the claims process where human touch and technology need to merge to form a stronger, more cohesive and less error-based approach.

Why has 1Life decided to integrate RPA instead of bringing in more client-facing employees?

We believe that RPA is a value add to our existing staff, as well as to our clients. From a staff perspective, we have a specialised claims team that are trained to deliver this full service without RPA technology. 

However, with the addition of RPA, we are able to remove the tedious tasks associated with the claims process and give our agents the opportunity to focus on what matters most – servicing our clients effectively. 

When it comes to funeral claims our customers don’t have the luxury of time – we provide them with peace of mind that their claims will be paid out timely – as they need it. This helps us ensure that our customers are serviced effectively and that the claim is processed speedily.

What is the proven accuracy of the RPA technology?

The IT-enabled RPA market has been growing rapidly at a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 60.5% from 2014 and is expected to reach $5 billion by 2020. 

By using AI and robotics, RPA technology is able to source and process data from a vast array of platforms in real-time and produce results far quicker than any human brain can possibly do. 

Whilst human intelligence is creative and intuitive. AI is fast and accurate, and robots are reliable and consistent. The workforce of the future will be a seamless blend of human and digital employees, each enhancing the other’s strengths and abilities. Human workers will focus on innovation, adding value, and pursuing new skills, whilst digital workers will perform dull, uninteresting, and repetitive tasks. 

Human and robots — each on their own — won’t be enough to drive businesses in the future. Leading companies will be those that know how to combine the two effectively to add value to both shareholders and customers. 

By Jenna Cook

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