CGU, Willis Towers Watson announce first for Australia

Industry-first service launched through innovative joint-venture

CGU, Willis Towers Watson announce first for Australia

Insurance News

By Jordan Lynn

Willis Towers Watson and CGU have announced the launch of an Australia-first chatbot service through their joint-venture, Startup Cover.

The service, called Jamie, and the first in the country to run on Facebook Messenger, is designed to give start-up clients access to information and advice around the clock and can provide an indicative quote within five minutes of messaging.

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Brent Lehmann, general manager of affinity and commercial at Willis Towers Watson, said that the launch of the service is the beginning of the broker’s move into artificial intelligence.
“This is really us dipping our toe in the water to actually try and embrace this form of technology and from what we learn from that we will then start to apply deeper learnings and try and go as far as we possibly can with it,” Lehmann told Insurance Business.

“We want this to be the start of our journey; we’re not just doing this, and this is the end of it.”

For now, the Jamie chatbot will not have a binding function as Lehmann said that the firm wants to determine the success of the bot before possibly adding binding functionality.

“The intent is to provide some basic advice to make sure clients understand what the minimum requirements would be and then, hopefully, with an estimate at the end about what that is likely to cost them,” he said. “One thing we commit to is that, if they do it after hours, one of our brokers will personally call them as well to follow up and go through the information with them before they finalise the transaction.”

The marriage between traditional forms of advice and the use of AI or chatbots is a difficult balance for brokers to strike. Lehmann noted that the use of AI allows more data capture that could help provide accurate advice but “we are not there yet.”

“The entire broker distribution segment really needs to start to understand how technology can work in unison with the advice you provide,” he said. “Ultimately, I see this as an opportunity where technology and broker advice can actually come together rather than work separately or in competition with each other.”

While some may see the rise of AI as a threat to the broker channel, Lehmann stressed that he does not see brokers being replaced.

“I’m not for one minute saying this is going to make the advice model redundant moving forward, that is not the case,” Lehmann continued. “If you use bots particularly well, they can actually work to support your core proposition and the advice that you need to provide to clients.”

Related stories:
Willis Towers Watson and CGU announce ground-breaking startup partnership
Automated advice not the end for brokers

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