Last year on April 1, we heard about Roberto Siber and the Buyonic Insurance Agency in Texas from an article published in the Insurance Journal. It was a harmless joke suggesting that Siber, the principal of the agency, was a robot that could rate, bind and issue policies on the spot, while simultaneously answering the phones and making robocalls to prospects.

But here we are just one year later, and rather than being a joke, Siber’s artificial intelligence (AI) brethren are actively joining the insurance workforce. Accenture has built CATHY (Cognitive Agent To Help You), an artificial intelligence solution that offers customer service for the insurance industry. With CATHY, insurers can obtain a single view into multiple customer service requests across channels and respond to them simultaneously.

The solution leverages natural language processing, analytics and insurance domain corpus to respond to customer queries in real-time and service insurance needs. It can hold contextual interactions with customers by extracting relevant information from a back-end database. For complex transactions, the virtual agent can seamlessly transfer the request to a human agent. In addition, CATHY can perform sentiment analysis on customer conversations and engage in self-learning by consuming human-agent interactions into its learning database.

And she is certainly not the only AI worker out there. In January, Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance of Japan announced it is laying off 30 employees and replacing them with an artificial intelligence system that can calculate insurance payouts.

But like CATHY, these AIs are not just for back-office functions. Chatbots and virtual agents are helping to sell and service insurance all over the world. Consider this list from, a leader in collecting information on all the chatbots worldwide:

  • Sofia a virtual agent for Micro Lending Argentina that provides customer service without human interception through an integrated chat.
  • Iris is a virtual agent representing the Dutch company ANWB. Members of ANWB can ask her questions about insurance policies, breakdown services and membership 24 hours a day.
  • Allie is a virtual agent for Allianz Australia. She is available 24/7 to answer questions about a wide range of insurance products.

And the list goes on… Today these virtual agents are answering questions, initiating service requests, and, in select areas, are starting to help with insurance sales. So is Siber of Buyonic real yet? Maybe not, but with the speed and growth of these systems and capabilities, he certainly is no longer anybody’s fool!

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