To gain the most from artificial intelligence (AI), insurers need to go beyond proof-of-concept assessments and start deploying these technologies throughout their organizations and along a big stretch of their value chains. Their ability to roll out intelligent technologies swiftly and on a big scale will often be crucial to the success of major AI initiatives.

At this year’s Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards, several innovative insurers showed how implementing AI on a big scale, at speed, has enabled them to improve operating efficiencies, accelerate product development or boost the customer experience they provide. Here are some of the impressive AI applications:

AXA: In Belgium, AXA has introduced a set of AI solutions designed to improve the efficiency of its operations and enhance the experience it provides its brokers and customers. Its intelligent email-routing system, for example, uses natural language processing (NLP) to scan incoming electronic correspondence and direct it to the correct recipient.  The company receives around 4.7 million emails a year and the intelligent routing system, launched in June 2018, has an accuracy rate of 98 percent. To improve the user-experience it provides brokers and customers, AXA Belgium has employed a combination of AI and optical character recognition (OCR) technology to enhance its claims management process. The software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, provided by Accenture, reads, assesses and processes information on handwritten European Accident Statement (EAS) forms. The SaaS solution is far quicker and much more accurate than the previous manual process and is being progressively extended to accommodate many other types of documents. To further accelerate its claims processing, AXA Belgium has integrated the SaaS solution with Guidewire’s ClaimCenter claims-management system. All its claims-management processes are now fully automated.  AXA Belgium has further improved the customer experience it offers by adding an intelligent virtual agent to its website. Axel, the AI-powered agent, advises customers in French or Dutch about how to make a claim.

MetLife cuts time to process claims from 12 days to 15 minutes.

MetLife: As part of its extensive digital transformation, MetLife is using AI together with data analytics and robotic process automation to improve its claims management, increase operating efficiencies and enhance the customer experience it delivers. It has developed an intelligent claims management system that analyzes all claims, identifies those that are eligible for compensation, and then automatically adjudicates them. This innovative solution has reduced the time MetLife takes to process claims from 12 days to 15 minutes. The company is also combining AI with text analysis and visualization technologies to enable its case managers to quickly review and reassess claims. Furthermore, it has built an AI platform that provides its claims agents with real-time alerts and prompts to help them better understand customers who call the company’s contact center. Key to MetLife’s roll-out of AI solutions is its partnerships with innovative startups such as SparkBeyond and Cogito.

Kyobo Life Insurance: This Korean carrier has built an innovative underwriting system that uses AI to automatically assess and, when appropriate, accept policy applications across a wide range of products. The Best Analysis and Rapid Outcome (Baro) system also uses natural language processing (NLP) to provide Kyobo’s sales consultants with real-time responses to underwriting queries. The system, which was piloted earlier this year, has already improved the speed and accuracy of Kyobo’s underwriting, enhanced the efficiency of its sales team and, by reducing waiting times, increased customer satisfaction. Kyobo plans to expand the number of insurance products the Baro system can handle by introducing offerings that require more complex underwriting. It is also looking to upgrade the Baro system so that it can also assess claims applications.

FNB: The South African financial services group has increased the efficiency of its underwriting by developing an AI-powered “decision engine” that uses around 2 500 data points from in-house and third-party sources to forecast the life expectancy of prospective customers. This innovation allows the group’s life insurance business, FNB Life, to quickly offer applicants limited life cover without them having to answer underwriting questions or undergo medical tests. Prospective customers willing to answer four basic underwriting questions are eligible for higher cover. The decision engine supports multiple sales channels including FNB’s customer app, its online banking platform and its contact center. Information reviewed by the decision engine includes transactional data from the applicants’ bank accounts, such as spending on healthcare, fast-foods and alcohol; demographic data; and statistics from the government population register. The development of the decision engine required close co-operation between FNB Life, the group’s banking business and its reinsurers. The innovative underwriting system has increased sales, reduced costs and enhanced the customer experience provided by FNB Life.

For further information about how AI can help insurers improve the customer experience they deliver and also increase the effectiveness of other parts of their businesses take a look at the findings of our recent AI research.

In my next blog post, I’ll examine how some innovative insurers are applying AI to improve the performance of their workforces. A growing number of insurers are recognizing that AI is a powerful ally, not a substitute, for their employees. Until then, take a look at the many impressive innovations submitted for this year’s Efma-Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards at https://www.efma.com/innovationininsurance/.

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