Author: Vijay Kasturi, Head of Sales & Business Development – Western Europe at Profinch Solutions
When a human being or even an animal faces risk, there can be one of two reactions – fight or flight. Risk is inarguably ubiquitous and something that most of us deal with on a daily basis. However, rather than fight or flight, sometimes the best way to deal with risk is to buy protection. And, this is where the insurance industry plays an integral role. It enables you to protect the downside of unforeseen events and mitigate the impact of risk events. Traders and mariners have been buying insurance for the last 500 years. Inevitably, the insurance industry has significantly evolved over this vast period of time and shape shifted in response to the changing environment. Today, the industry is in the midst of another important transition precipitated by technology and in response to changing consumer needs. It has finally started its delayed, but firm, march towards digitization. While digitization is being embraced across the value chain, its importance in claims management needs to be highlighted.
The digital claims value proposition
For an insurance company, the moment of truth comes at the time of claims processing. An efficient and timely settlement of claims can lead to a positive experience for the customer and help the insurer engender trust. Digitization can help enable this in several ways. However, in the digital age, a truly robust claims value proposition needs to go beyond the traditional after-the-event claims management exercise. It needs to be holistic and foster an end-to-end partnership with the customer. This means digitizing the entire claims journey starting from digital claims prevention and digital first notification of loss (FNOL) to digital loss assessment and automated settlement, especially for clear and simple cases.
What does digitizing the claims process mean for insurers?
Automated and intelligent interactions can facilitate the faster settlement of claims. Insurers can leverage Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create chatbots that can act as the first call of support for customers. These chatbots can address basic settlement queries and even commence the claims settlement process. For example, chatbots can easily avoid the need to check the policy number for identification by simply verifying it with the policy documents, photographs, and other documents submitted by the policyholder. Further, they can interact with the customer, assess the requirement, and then suggest the best course of action. A process that would normally take a number of days can be done in just a few minutes with the assistance of chatbots. The best part is that since chatbots are available round the clock, customers can interact with them and have their queries addressed almost as soon as the need arises. This can be invaluable to a customer who is looking to make a claim.
Machine Learning (ML), a subset of AI, can further augment the value being generated by automating a significant part of the claims process. Imagine this scenario – an individual interacts with a chatbot to initiate the claims process. At the back end, ML tools have already converted all the files and information into digital assets and made all the information available to the chatbot via cloud. The chatbot can now point the customer in the right direction. Next, data analytics and drone technology can be leveraged to assess or verify the damage for which the claim is being made. For example, the claimant can take a picture of the damage and share it with the insurer. Digital tools can then be applied to scan the picture, compare it to a repository, and verify the actual damage. Or, unmanned drones can be deployed in case of large-scale damage where individually assessing the damage might not be possible. With assessment done, settlement of small value claims can be automated while large value claims can be referred for further evaluation. With the entire process automated, it becomes more efficient and seamless.
It is important to recognize that automated risk assessment is actually the first step in improving the claims management process. AI can enable insurance companies to improve the risk assessment and underwriting cycle. Insurance companies can leverage AI and predictive analytics to access data related to the risk metrics of individuals rather than groups of people and assess it more efficiently, thereby improving the risk assessment and the claims cycle. According to a report by PWC, the initial impact of AI will primarily relate to improving efficiencies and automating existing customer-facing underwriting and claims processes.
Clearly, digitization of the claims process can be highly value accretive for the insurer as it leads to faster settlement of claims, improves the customer’s claim journey by making it more seamless and efficient, and helps in achieving cost efficiencies. Profinch’s FinFlowz product offering for insurance companies bundles many of these benefits to enable insurers to integrate digitization in the customer journey and add value across the value chain starting from customer onboarding to risk assessment and claims management.
Today, the average insurance customer is already accustomed to digital interactions and is, in fact, demanding digital journeys in most spheres of their lives. For insurance companies, it has now become essential to holistically embrace digital solutions in order to meet the customer’s needs and thrive in the new normal.