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4 Key Takeaways from AI for Data-driven Insurers Webinar

5 minutes, 54 seconds read

The adoption of AI has increased exponentially across the business ecosystem in the past couple of years. Yet, Insurance still lags behind many industries due to the nature of its business. However, the ease of convenience that has come with AI implementations has made it indispensable to Insurers. So, where has the demand for the convenience come from? ‘Modern Insurance Customer’. The millennials today demand 24×7 service at their fingertips. They are keener towards information provided on digital channels and more likely to use social media and texting for Insurance interactions. To suffice the needs and demands of the modern insurance customer, AI integration is needed.

Role of AI in Insurance

Currently, AI is playing a pivotal role in transforming Insurance processes such as Claims, Underwriting, Customer Service, Marketing, fraud detection etc. For example, AI chatbots are being used to handle customer service which has led to a significant reduction in cost and optimization of human resources. According to a report by Deloitte on Unraveling the Indian Consumer, India has the world’s largest millennial population of 440 million in the age group of 18-35 years. Internet users in the country are expected to increase from 432 million in 2016 to 647 million by 2021, taking internet penetration from 30 per cent in 2016 to 59 per cent in 2021.

AI-based technologies will be needed to meet the evolving demands of modern insurance customers. 

According to the State of AI in Insurance 2020 report, nearly half of all Insurance executives surveyed believe that Automated processing can add value to their customer experience journeys. Nationwide is using artificial intelligence to help analyse customer interactions so it can solve customers’ problems earlier. Using AI and NLP, the insurer identified opportunities for reducing inefficiencies. And the result was more than half of all email enquiries could be resolved by guiding users towards digital channels instead. 

During the webinar, we polled the audience to gauge their motivation for implementing AI in their business processes. 44% felt that Claims Processing was the main reason to adopt AI into their business Insurance processes. 

The quick poll was in line with Mantra Labs’  State of AI in Insurance report 2020 which found that 74% of the respondents leaning towards the adoption of AI in Claims Processing. 

The webinar addressed some of the key challenges faced by Insurers, reasons behind these challenges and how we can approach these challenges to bridge the disconnect. 

Data in Silos

Most businesses that have data kept in silos face challenges in collaboration, execution and measurement of their bigger picture goals. Accumulating information in silos may not give accurate insights into improving engagement, which leads to impersonalized content that doesn’t speak to the customer. However, models well-trained on historic data, don’t necessarily perform better with live data. The challenge is that data is often needed before it is even possible to conduct a proof of concept — and sourcing the right data can be both time consuming and costly. The right approach to this issue would be to treat Data as the centrepiece for transformation. Insurers should engage with data scientists/consultants to review the quality of your data. Data exploration exercises need to be performed to challenge/validate the existing assumptions about data captured and stored within the org. 

[Related: 5 Proven Strategies to Break Through the Data Silos]

People, Expertise and Technical Competency

Many organizations face a challenge in finding the right ‘Skill and Talent’ for developing AI strategies and implementing them. Critical skill-sets like data scientists, cloud specialists, machine learning engineers, and AI engineers are essential to keep pace. Several Industry experts have also relayed that many AI-based projects and proof-of-concept work do not take off the ground due to lack of quality data at the disposal of such skilled professionals — derailing their availability/ usefulness for hiring purposes. Securing the right data science teams and training the right amount of data needed to support algorithm development can improve confidence levels for organizations.

Clear Vision, Process & Support from Executive Leadership

Often the reason for the failure of AI projects is due to lack of clear thought process from the top management. According to a recent BCG report, there is a big gap between expectations and planning. Most companies want to create a long-term competitive advantage with AI and expect to see a major impact from AI within 5 years. The big disconnect, however, is that only 39% of enterprises had an AI strategy to go with it. Insurers shouldn’t run headfirst into moonshot AI projects. Instead, they should take a more measured approach that identifies a simple problem or problems (use case) that AI can address. Insurers must ensure that the goals of AI projects must be in line with organization goals.

Technology and Vendor Selection

Many Insurers today fail to understand how AI can be leveraged for their business. There is a lot of unseen effort that goes behind any AI implementation project. They are not sure which AI-based technologies to be used for solving a particular problem. According to the State of AI in Insurance 2020 report, InsurTech funding in 2019 reached $6B revealing a stronger emphasis by insurance organizations to fast-track the progress and development made by startups in tackling age-old insurer ills with AI-fueled innovations. InsurTechs are seen as advantageous because they can add value by scaling their operating models at incredible speed owing to their nimble size.

There are tools, products developed harnessing AI-based technologies which have helped optimize several core insurance businesses. The Haven Life Risk Solutions team, in partnership with MassMutual, has developed a platform that uses both a rule engine and machine learning models to analyze the application and third party data in real-time. It can now help MassMutual make many underwriting decisions without human underwriter intervention, and in some cases also without a medical exam. Motor Insurance Claims is where AI is currently driving maximum efficiency. There are certain gaps that are being faced by insurers which can be resolved with AI platforms specific towards claims processing. FlowMagic, a visual AI platform developed by Mantra Labs focuses on streamlining Insurer workflows. 

[Related: FlowMagic — The Visual AI Platform for Insurer Workflows]

Concluding Remarks

In these challenging times, AI is already helping Insurance companies find their competitive edge, and stay operationally agile even during pandemics. Queries which are being addressed by chatbots help humans to handle more complex issues. It cannot be stressed enough that the next couple of months would be difficult for several businesses including Insurance. 

Companies across the world have already started making plans to ensure business continuity in this pandemic. AI or automation will play a crucial role in streamlining various processes and accelerate innovation to adapt to the dynamic environment and ensure long term stability.

Our host Parag Sharma interacted one on one with participants, during an interactive Q&A session where insights were shared with the audience. The discussions centred around some thought-provoking questions such as tracking AI performance once implemented, the role of AI in helping to reach Bharat, the potential for AI in telemedicine, etc. 

Articles from Parag:

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Retention playbook for Insurance firms in the backdrop of financial crises

4 minutes read

Belonging to one of the oldest industries in the world, Insurance companies have weathered multiple calamities over the years and have proven themselves to be resilient entities that can truly stand the test of time. Today, however, the industry faces some of its toughest trials yet. Technology has fundamentally changed what it means to be an insurer and the cumulative effects of the pandemic coupled with a weak global economic output have impacted the industry in ways both good and bad.

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Source: Deloitte Services LP Economic Analysis

For instance, the U.S market recorded a sharp dip in GDP in the wake of the pandemic and it was expected that the economy would bounce back bringing with it a resurgent demand for all products (including insurance) across the board. It must be noted that the outlook toward insurance products changed as a result of the pandemic. Life insurance products were no longer an afterthought, although profitability in this segment declined over the years. Property-and-Casualty (P&C) insurance, especially motor insurance, continued to be a strong driver, while health insurance proved to be the fastest-growing segment with robust demand from different geographies

Simultaneously, the insurance industry finds itself on the cusp of an industry-wide shift as technology is starting to play a greater role in core operations. In particular, technologies such as AI, AR, and VR are being deployed extensively to retain customers amidst this technological and economic upheaval.

Double down on digital

For insurance firms, IT budgets were almost exclusively dedicated to maintaining legacy systems, but with the rise of InsurTech, it is imperative that firms start dedicating more of their budgets towards developing advanced capabilities such as predictive analytics, AI-driven offerings, etc. Insurance has long been an industry that makes extensive use of complex statistical and mathematical models to guide pricing and product development strategies. By incorporating the latest technological advances with the rich data they have accumulated over the years, insurance firms are poised to emerge stronger and more competitive than ever.

Using AI to curate a bespoke customer experience

Insurance has always been a low-margin affair and success in the business is primarily a function of selling the right products to the right people and reducing churn as much as possible. This is particularly important as customer retention is normally conceived as an afterthought in most industries, as evidenced in the following chart.

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        Source: econconusltancy.com

AI-powered tools (even with narrow capabilities) can do wonders for the insurance industry at large. When architected in the right manner, they can be used to automate a bulk of the standardized and automated processes that insurance companies have. AI can be used to automate and accelerate claims, assess homeowner policies via drones, and facilitate richer customer experiences through sophisticated chatbots. Such advances have a domino effect of increasing CSAT scores, boosting retention rates, reducing CACs, and ultimately improving profitability by as much as 95%.

Crafting immersive products through AR/VR

Customer retention is largely a function of how good a product is, and how effective it is in solving the customers’ pain points. In the face of increasing commodification, insurance companies that go the extra mile to make the buying process more immersive and engaging can gain a definite edge over competitors.

Globally, companies are flocking to implement AR/VR into their customer engagement strategies as it allows them to better several aspects of the customer journey in one fell swoop. Relationship building, product visualization, and highly personalized products are some of the benefits that AR/VR confers to its wielders.  

By honoring the customer sentiments of today and applying a slick AR/VR-powered veneer over its existing product layer, insurance companies can cater to a younger audience (Gen Z) by educating them about insurance products and tailoring digital delivery experiences. This could pay off in the long run by building a large customer base that could be retained and served for a much longer period.

The way forward

The Insurance industry is undergoing a shift of tectonic proportions as an older generation makes way for a new and younger one that has little to no perceptions about the industry. By investing in next-generation technologies such as AR/VR, firms can build new products to capture this new market and catapult themselves to leadership positions simply by way of keeping up with the times.

We have already seen how AR is a potential game-changer for the insurance industry. It is only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace.

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