Change is flowing across the commercial insurance sector, as technology begins to create increased efficiency and a more intelligence-based approach to risk. Faced with customers who are more informed and understand in detail the risks that they face, insurers must utilise technology to work in partnership with customers to minimise business disruption.
Into 2018 and beyond
Fairly late to the technology party, the commercial insurance sector has historically been considered to be too diverse and complex for technology to make a real difference. Yet, 2018 is widely regarded as the year technology will start to take off across the industry.
Pushed by increased availability, reduced financial outlay and ease-of-use, technology can create better experiences for financial services customers. Automation of services, can vastly enhance the speed of resolution.
At QBE, some simple claims today, can be automatically handled and resolved in just 15 minutes. Impressive, not just because of the fast turnaround, but also because of the accuracy. For more complex claims, or where legacy systems are involved, we are using intelligent robotic-lead software programmes to help process a claim, just as a human would. AI and machine learning in particular are advancing, so they can even understand sentiment in a voice so that our engagement with customers can be adjusted accordingly.
There is no doubt that the use of advanced automation and AI is as much about improving the customer experience as it is about efficiency gains.
In our lifetime, we likely to see the power of computers reaching that of the human brain. But it will not stop there. How long before computers become as powerful as the collective brainpower of the entire human race?
Aiding this technological advance is a workforce that has grown up in the technology era, with the ability to see the future potential. The concepts behind many of the innovations today were created as early as the 1950s, but the combination of advancing capabilities and knowledgeable users is powerful.
Whilst this new availability of talent is driving that change, such resource is in huge demand. At QBE, we have worked hard to create the right environment, the access to flexible tooling, the agile start-up culture and strong business engagement in order to attract, motivate and retain the new breed of data scientists.
Data driven insurance
Customers also have more sophisticated systems that provide insightful data, enabling them to understand their risk in-depth. Often now better than the insurer.
Insurance is often seen as a necessary evil, only needed if something goes wrong, but the relationship between customer and insurer is changing. Stronger partnerships are forming that focus on operational ability - prevention rather than protection.
Driven by data, insurers can create tailored packages to align to specific requirements. This will keep the insurance sector relevant, reacting quickly to developing risk.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is increasing the influx of this intelligence, as more devices automate the flow of data. For example, factory humidity, water leaks, machinery sensors - all support business continuity.
Technology advances, such as the wearables market, can analyse the risk to workers. Belts for manual labourers identify lifting technique and the monitoring of driver drowsiness can minimise accidents.
Fuel consumption is one of the biggest expenses for transportation business, yet technology is helping here too, monitoring engine performance and driving behaviour. Unusual patterns in factory machine performance alert for support or communicate to ensure regular maintenance is completed.
These are just some of the many technological advancements working to reduce business interruption and cost.
As prevention increases and less claims are made, premiums will reduce. However, the insurance sector still must play a vital role in supporting customers with risk. And ultimately being there should something go wrong.
Insurance technology assured
Technology capabilities vastly improve the customer and broker experience, ensuring decisions are made quickly. The insurance sector may still be catching up with the technological revolution, but we are quick to learn and the possibilities are really exciting as we shape a new generation of insurers for the future.
A great example of this is the ‘2018 BIBA Hackathon’ taking place in Manchester on 16 May. Participants from all parts of the insurance industry will be working in teams to tackle an innovation challenge to make life better for brokers. I can’t wait to see the Hackathon in action and hear about the outcomes.
I will be presenting a session entitled: ‘It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it…’ at BIBA 2018, as part of its Free Fringe Sessions alongside QBE’s Victor Hu, Head of Data Science.