Are chatbots and AI really threats to insurance workers?

An expert gives another perspective

Are chatbots and AI really threats to insurance workers?


By Gerv Tacadena

Chatbots and artificial intelligence offer endless possibilities for business processes across industries but for a people-oriented sector such as insurance, embracing them seems to be a hard pill to swallow.

Some fear that these technologies could take over several tasks and displace many insurance workers, leaving them jobless. Others are skeptical due to security concerns surrounding these innovations.

However, the opportunities these technologies present are enough reason not to fear them, Limelight Health CTO and co-founder Alan Leard (pictured) said.

“As insurance companies use these products to become more efficient, they will be able to serve brokers better and faster which should allow the brokers to focus more time on serving their customers well while also doing more business because they can spend less time and money on administrative tasks associated with each customer,” he told Insurance Business.

Streamlining tedious processes

A massive chunk of the insurance process revolves around collecting information from individuals and organizations. Many insurance groups still use manual methods to accomplish these objectives, which, Leard believes, tends to be tedious and prone to mistakes.

“Chatbots can be a great user-friendly approach to collecting data while ensuring better data accuracy and normalization,” he said.

In terms of the simple decision-making processes, Leard said AI would be able to learn to reach decisions based on historical experience and available data points.

Allowing these technologies to control parts of the insurance process would allow insurance workers to focus and utilize their time on more complex cases.

“Companies that value innovation and growth will realize that the more they can embrace the latest technologies to automate repetitive tasks that should not require human intervention, the more they will be able to invest in their existing skilled workforce focusing on new opportunities as well as better and more flexible services,” he said.

Addressing their limitations

While chatbots and AI are instantly scalable, they still have limitations — for instance, some edge case scenarios still require interventions from human service agents. The other disadvantage is the lack of a genuine human connection.

“If a user feels like they are engaging with a machine, we’re not doing it right. So much of what can be done with AI will allow for less required engagement for menial tasks, and the areas in which we apply AI for user engagement should be implemented when it can accelerate a process and make it better for all parties involved,” Leard said.

These issues, however, will diminish over time as insurance groups are able to give more personality and improvisation abilities to these technologies.

Chatbots and AI are not necessarily new and are already used widely in some of the most day-to-day tasks. However, as hurdles are overcome, Leard said their utilization will likely accelerate pretty quickly.

“The companies that will be most successful with chatbots and AI over time will be the ones that recognize the best way to utilize these technologies is by creating a partnership between these new offerings and their existing skilled workforce to eliminate the work that is repetitive and monotonous so that the human workforce can become true experts in the areas that require the most human engagement,” he said.

“Providing an excellent experience that caters exactly to the customer’s needs, providing what they want, when they want it, for a price they are willing to pay will create customer loyalty that will allow for a much easier path to expanded offerings and higher margins.”

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