In this Opinion piece, Sofie Quidenus-Wahlforss, (pictured below) co-founder and CEO of omni:us, the Berlin-based startup which provides Artificial Intelligence solutions to the insurance industry, looks at the potential impact Artificial Intelligence will have on the future of our industry.
Why AI is key to innovation in the insurance industry
Integrating Artificial Intelligence into business processes can be a daunting undertaking for decision makers in the insurance industry. Firstly, there’s the expectation that replacing existing systems with AI will mean large IT projects, which are both time-consuming and costly. On top of this, although there is the growing perception that AI can help businesses operate far more efficiently, the high volume of information out there can be overwhelming and it’s difficult to gain clear understanding about how to take the first steps in this new technology.
Due to these factors, initial reluctance is easy to understand. Radical change, as we’ve seen from the Industrial to the Technological Revolution, is always disruptive, not to mention hard to control, and even harder to reverse. For established businesses and successful industries like insurance, why shake the status quo? Quite simply, because the status quo will only remain stable for so long, and the longer companies wait while innovation continues to evolve, the harder it will become to catch up.
Despite progress with regards to adopting AI being slow at first, ultimately, those working in the industry do understand and acknowledge change is needed. In a recent report by Accenture, 86% of insurers agreed that to retain a competitive edge, they need to innovate. And the good news is, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it might at first seem. When incorporated correctly, AI solutions can be extremely successful in reducing overall costs, improving a company’s efficiency, freeing up time, and improving customer experience and satisfaction.
As technology progresses, a number of forward-thinking businesses in the insurance and financial sectors are seeing considerable benefits from working with AI technology solutions. At omni:us, for example, the technology we are developing and bringing to market allows insurers to extract, review and analyse data from arbitrary documents (including claims, incident reports, and invoices) that feature structured and unstructured data, as well as even low quality scanned documents, faxes, and partly handwritten forms to a much higher and accurate level than previously imagined.
By reading and understanding documents in a similar way to a human, omni:us products automate the highly labour-intensive aspects of insurance practice. Its two solutions – Claim and Policy – help traditional insurance companies automate their claims processing while helping brokers handle policy comparison – both reducing customer wait times with 80% faster processing and cutting costs in the process.
Even with proven business results however, a wariness regarding change remains, further exacerbated by fears over how AI could have a negative impact on the global jobs market. But even this prediction is being questioned – a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers claimed that while some job roles will inevitably be disrupted by AI, far more will actually be created. The fact remains that AI and machine learning are dependent on human interaction and analysis as technology is only be able to run as programmed, based on data the business chooses to input.
Although there’s no doubt that certain job roles will eventually be phased out through automation, this should be seen as all part of a company’s evolution rather than a detrimental step for any business – pushing boundaries is intrinsic to development and progress. Companies automating business processes with AI technology are blazing a trail in their sectors, and with these developments, human time and effort can be redeployed to other areas of the business, creating a selection of higher value roles.
In conclusion, it must be acknowledged that adopting AI and machine learning technology is a huge step for any insurance business to take but arguably a fundamental one in order innovate and not only survive, but also thrive, in the future.