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Spotlight: Technology: Maximising sales and underwriting results using a digital workforce

Digital workforce

While data is at the core of every underwriting decision, for many insurance organisations using that data efficiently is a manual and time-consuming process

Hugh Pelling
Hugh Pelling, senior client manager, Blue Prism Cloud

From legacy software systems to custom-built databases and excel spreadsheets, extracting useful data as well as mining that data for risk analysis and underwriting purposes can be problematic. Rather than investing the considerable time and money needed for an overhaul of their existing set-up, many insurance companies are now turning to intelligent automation to support underwriting functions.

Some insurance companies have used intelligent automation or connected robotics process automation to support and enhance their underwriting processes to improve the customer experience and relieve some burden on their underwriters.

Speeding up quote and buy

In one case an insurance provider with access to an abundance of property data from its country-wide network had the information it needed to provide accurate, personalised property insurance quotes very early on in the property buying process. However, accessing and using the data to create quotes was a heavily manual task, which slowed down the quote and buy process.

Off-the-shelf insurance systems wouldn’t be cost effective as they would need to be customised to fit the business model. So, in order to reduce workload for underwriters and issue policies more quickly, the company used an intelligent digital workforce to automate the manual version of the process. The digital workers operated in the background to support the front-end portal without the need for additional systems and software.

Automating this aspect of the customer journey also ensured that the foundations were laid for creating a self-service portal which would allow customers to get quotes and buy insurance instantly as well as manage their data and make MTAs.

Another insurance provider that operates within the aggregator space had identified a need to access underwriting data in real time to ensure its quotes remained competitive but accurate and not missing crucial data. It was experiencing the impact of customers inputting inaccurate information such as omitting previous claims or penalty points from the quote and buy form, which either meant making changes mid-term and potentially losing business or creating problems at claim and causing the insurer to carry the third-party costs.

Digital workers now access underwriting data for each request in real time by searching shared legacy platforms.. The data is used in the premium calculation initiated by aggregators or in quotes generated via their contact centre. Legacy policies can now also be checked. The impact will see more accurate premiums, reducing up front fraud but also reducing cost exposure on potential claims.

Creating human/digital underwriting teams

For insurance companies that underwrite more complex policies, a digital workforce can become a valuable part of the team. Rather than completely automating the underwriting process, digital workers can be used to automate the more time-consuming structured aspects of it, allowing the underwriters themselves to focus on risk analysis, customisation and strengthening the client relationship.

Digital workers can operate between different tools and systems just like a person would do, extracting information when needed and inputting data accurately and quickly. In underwriting, this means that a digital worker can access central insurance databases and internal databases to mine data needed for risk analysis.

In order to allow underwriters to focus on more complex customer needs, simpler policies can be largely handled by digital workers. Human employees can then reduce the time they spend on these cases, only intervening as needed, for example, to confirm an approval, or review a critical step of a much longer workflow. For example, an international insurance provider uses digital workers to manage a proportion of its end-to-end policy processes – from data validation and alignment of policy terms to booking the details into the admin system, to issuing the invoice and policy documents. Human approval points can be woven into this chain of digital worker activity if needed, allowing the process to move back and forth between digital workers and employees seamlessly.

Supporting contact centres

It’s a fact that while huge advances have been made in online quote and buy technology, whether on websites, in customer portals or via apps, there is still a sizeable proportion of people who would rather call to get an insurance quote and purchase it.

This means that insurance providers must maintain contact centres to cope not only with delivering the initial premium purchase but also with mid-term changes to policies and cancellations. Doing so is costly, especially when each of these calls takes significant time. High staff turnover is common and training up new staff can take weeks or even months. These challenges can quickly begin to affect engagement, performance and key performance indicators.

Intelligent digital workers, which leverage cognitive skills such as the ability to understand and communicate in natural language or extract relevant information from unstructured data, can assist in several ways. They can pick up data from a variety of channels to start work on a process. For example, a customer may submit a change of details that triggers an MTA and do so via email, a web form, a chatbot or over the phone with an operator. This data can then be processed in the various systems to update the database, generate a new quote and deliver it to the customer.

Alternatively, a digital worker can be operating in the background to collect and validate data for a new quote while the operator is on the phone with a customer. This cuts down the call time and creates a better customer experience.

Choosing an automation provider 

Choosing an automation platform that works for an underwriting function really comes down to its capabilities for transformation across the organisation. A digital workforce should be flexible enough to operate across underwriting, claims, actuarial and customer experience as well as the back office.

It’s important to find a supplier that understands the challenges and requirements of an insurance organisation. This is both in order to help apply automation to meeting today’s priorities but more importantly to act as an innovation partner, bringing forward a vision of how intelligent automation can transcend conventional restrictions and pave the way to introducing an entirely different approach to creating and launching new products. 

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