COVID-19 has highlighted where automation is necessary, and where it isn't

COVID-19 has highlighted where automation is necessary, and where it isn't | Insurance Business

COVID-19 has highlighted where automation is necessary, and where it isn

The insurance sector has a long history of relying on paperwork, and the balance between automation and human contact has been grappled with for several years – however, according to FinTechNZ members, the ongoing pandemic has highlighted the areas which would most benefit from change.

Colin Priest, Singapore-based data scientist at Datarobot says that the paperwork and signature culture in Asia is huge, but physical distancing requirements have started bringing people over into the digital space. He says human contact during these times is more important than ever, and automation can help free people from repetitive admin tasks to focus on more meaningful interaction.

Read more: Automation in insurance: the advantages and the struggles

“I think this situation has finally started switching people over to start thinking about the 21st century,” Priest said.

“But I agree that you need to keep the human face – AI and automation should not mean getting rid of humans, especially in a time where everyone feels confused and scared. You need to free up your humans to deal with your customers, because customers need human contact whenever they’re very emotional.”

“Insurance is very confusing, and making a claim is an upsetting process,” he added. “Insurance is ripe for restructuring so that the automation can take away the annoying administration, and we get more people in front of people.”

Katrina Church, adviser at Insurance People says her brokerage is undoubtedly going to look at taking away the more ‘menial’ tasks and allow staff to focus on customer interaction. She says that for her business, lockdown was an incredibly strong month for business – and that happened purely through an increased focus on communication.

“For us going forward, it’s going to be about getting rid of the things that take a long time to do,” Church said.

“One person might spend all of their time on arrears management, but they don’t have time to pick up the phone and check if that client is actually OK. We want to see humanity and kindness come back into everything that we do, but we seem to be caught up in the paperwork.”

Read more: Why claims automation is more than ‘replacing people with machines’

Church says that incoming compliance regulations will mean the insurance sector will need to document its processes more than ever – however, this should not mean hours and hours spent going through paperwork.

“I’m going to bring in things that will make it easier for me to do my job,” Church said.

“I wrote more business over lockdown than I did the previous quarter, and I didn’t do anything but solve people’s problems. I was able to do all of that online and over the phone, and I did all the applications and saved people a whole lot of money.

“We’re going to focus entirely on building that client experience, and I look forward to seeing insurance companies making it easier for us to do our jobs too.”