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As we’ve seen, robo-advisors have shaken up the wealth management industry over the last decade. Their impact is beginning to spread to other industries—including insurance.
One of the most prominent advocates of using intelligent machines in the insurance industry is the tech entrepreneur Shai Wininger, who co-founded Fiverr before turning his attention to insurance with Lemonade. Lemonade offers renters and home insurance, along with and a promise to “remake insurance as a social good, rather than a necessary evil.”
Lemonade uses two different AIs in its customer service. The first, called Maya, signs users up. By answering a series of questions on their smartphones, customers give Maya information to create a personalized insurance policy for them. If a customer has extant insurance coverage, the bot will handle switching it to Lemonade and securing a refund, if possible. The second, Jim, accepts claims and can process some without human assistance—earlier this year, it processed and paid a claim in three seconds.
Lemonade’s AIs are both still learning. The company hopes to automatically process 90 percent of claims one day. After a trial period of restricted operations in New York State in the last quarter of 2016, Lemonade announced plans to expand across the U.S. earlier this year.
Maya and Jim are both essentially chat bots right now. A customer initiates the interaction. But it is not difficult to imagine the AIs becoming more proactive over time and evolving into more comprehensive robo-advisors.
Insurify is another notable example of insurance robo-advice. The company’s star employee is “Evia,” which is short for “expert virtual insurance agent.” Evia uses natural language processing and image recognition software to collect auto insurance quotes for customers, which makes comparison shopping for coverage easier. Users can also chat with Evia and ask for clarification of terms. If the AI gets stumped, the question is kicked up to a human customer service agent. Insurify operates exclusively in the U.S. and still brands itself as a “beta.”
It is no coincidence that both Insurify and Lemonade are startups in the insurance industry, and that their AI offerings largely consist of “chatbot” style customer service processing. Use of robo-advice is still cutting edge for the industry, and proactive, comprehensive advice for a customer from a machine may still be years away. While the major players are watching the space closely, their plans for a robo-advice offering have not yet been made public. Some areas of insurance may take longer than others to make use of robo-advisors. Life Insurance International, for example, predicts that robo-advice for life insurance could still be a decade away.
But if the era of digital disruption teaches us anything, it’s that things can change much faster than anyone anticipates.
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