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What role is automation playing in the insurance industry?

Kath Mainon, CEO of Claims Solutions at Davies Group, joins Insurance Business TV to chat through the automation landscape in insurance. She delves into the role it’s playing in the sector, its pitfalls and its number one advantage. 


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Paul: [00:00:21] Hello everyone, and welcome to the latest edition of Insurance Business TV, where we are going to delve into one of the insurance industry's buzzwords, automation. Yes, we've all heard of automation. We understand the concept. But how many of us are applying it to our businesses and truly understanding the value and indeed the pitfalls that it can bring? On this edition, I'm delighted to welcome Kath Mainon and CEO of Claim Solutions UK and Ireland at Davies Group, an expert on automation and its increasingly important role in the insurance industry. Kath head of Davies Claims Solutions and is a chartered insurer with more than 20 years experience in the claims sector. In recent years, under Kath's leadership, Davies has accelerated its investment in claims, technology and innovation to help its clients heighten their customer experience, improve underwriting performances and streamline processes. She has in-depth experience of all aspects of commercial and retail claims, including corporate and the Lloyd's market, and has led numerous successful outsource implementations. So Kath, clearly you're the expert. Tell us how big of a role automation is playing in the insurance industry and why insurers should invest in it? 

Kath: [00:01:40] Yeah, invest is the right term, Paul, because to do automation well, to do it effectively does require a significant investment. It's not cheap. It's not easy to do it well. And yet insurers and claims organizations like mine are doing just that. So I guess there has to be compelling reasons for us all to invest in the way that we are. For me, the reasons for broadly into two channels, the first of those is to improve the effectiveness and the efficiency of operations. So to cut out manual, repetitive tasks and have as much as possible of the back office carried out by automation. And that's really valid and worthwhile as a use of automation. And in the end, as well as benefiting insurers and organizations like mine, in the end it delivers a benefit, a cost benefit to all of the insurance industry and ultimately to customers. And the second Broad Channel, which I guess if I'm honest, is slightly more interesting for me, is applying automation to the customer experience to try and make that customer experience better, quicker, easier. So one great example of that is email. So insurers and organizations like mine have been making email available as an alternative to conventional ethanol. It gives the customers an extra option, and for some customers that provides extra convenience, they can report the claim how and in the way that they want. Similarly, you can take that right through, as we do, into a digital journey so that customers can get their updates. If they want to get them that way through a portal, they can communicate with those and give us documents and information via the portal. So automation is being applied and is having some real positive impacts on the insurance claims customer experience. 

Paul: [00:03:40] So certainly it sounds like a good thing, but are there any pitfalls to automation? 

Kath: [00:03:46] I think the Golden Rule, Paul, when you do anything that goes into customer experience, is to keep a really clear focus on what you're trying to achieve. And in that territory of customer experience, we are not trying to achieve a reduction in operating cost. That's not the answer. We are trying to enhance the customer experience and they're not necessarily the same. And it's absolutely not about imposing a digital journey on every customer and every part of the customer journey. From my experience of operating in old and Digital Journey and Portals in Davies over the last few last few years, I've seen that for some customers enroll in Digital Journey is hugely popular. It's exactly what they want. It's absolutely not the right channel for all customers and there needs to be flexibility. So today, an individual customer might love to get their update from our portal. Tomorrow, things are different and that same customer wants to talk to a person who can use empathy as well as skill and experience to guide them through the claim process. So I guess the potential pitfall is investment in digital at the expense of investment in other channels. Getting it right is when digital is an option, but it's backed up by or it's complimentary to a highly skilled and highly available human workforce. 

Paul: [00:05:15] Yeah, that's very, very interesting indeed. But what value can automation play in low value property claims in particular. 

Kath: [00:05:23] So in relation to low value property claims as well as all and as well as digital journey and portals, there are some specifics that we've been using that have particular relevance to low value building claims. So one of these is at the front end where we can take the claim straight from ethanol or enol through triage immediately into an inspection booking process. And we've automated the inspection booking process and that means that the customer they're in there and on their smartphone or their iPad can book the inspector appointment the day and time that's absolutely convenient for them. Then we've automated the processing of all of the information and data that's gathered in the inspection appointment, including the settlement. Agreed. And that means that without needing to wait for a claims handler to be available, without needing to get into any kind of queue or backlog, we can get the claim settled immediately. That's put us in a position where we can settle claims within minutes and hours of the inspection taking place rather than days and weeks. 

Paul: [00:06:32] So in summary then what do you see as the number one advantage of automation? 

Kath: [00:06:38] So the automation that I've been talking about has been popular with customers. Remember that we're never forcing it on customers. So those customers who've elected to use our automated channels give us really good NPS scores, give us really good feedback about their customer experience. Paul If you'd asked me this question a year ago, my answer probably would have stopped there. I would be content with the fact that we've given customers more choice, more options, and we've improved the claim life cycles. In the last six months, I've seen another dimension to what automation has to offer to customers and insurers. So we had storms in November and we had particularly severe storms, Eunice and Franklin in February of this year. And automation has been hugely significant in our property business in delivering outcomes for customers in the way that I've mentioned, where we can get the appointments booked immediately without human intervention and we can get the follow up settlements done immediately without human intervention. That's put us and our insurer clients in a position where we can continue to deliver fast, high quality service in a really significant surge event. So the extra dimension I think for insurers in particular is surge resilience. 

Paul: [00:07:57] Yeah, I think we're all a little more knowledgeable. Thank you very much, Kath. No doubt that automation can be a good thing, just like you should automatically come to insurance business TV for all the latest industry insights. We'll see you next time.