Viral, runaway–good descriptions for the growing changes infiltrating the property & casualty insurance field. Month by month emerging tools for insurers are coming to the marketplace, both from established companies expanding their products and upstart insurtech entrants seeking to bring a fresh set of capabilities to the industry.
Insurance AI versus ROI
The tough task for agencies and carriers is to know where exactly to invest in the waves of promising platforms. What will offer the most return and likely last for the long term? The overwhelming answer for the past 18 months has been insurance AI, with frenzied amounts of venture deals and company investments in projects with artificial intelligence, including machine learning products that help leverage our industry’s mountains of data, and even some with the ability to understand and process natural language.
The number and variety of AI insurance services and products has grown but this has not deterred insurers from jumping into the fray. The current crop of AI insurance innovations make strong cases for pragmatic and predictable improvements to the business.
Tipping the Scales
Among some of the most popular insurance AI initiatives to undertake are AI insurance services that interact with policyholders directly. At agencies, these have been in the form of automated customer assistance including virtual insurance agent software, more commonly called chatbots. The benefits these smart customer service robots can give to customers and agencies make them attractive to launch. Properly trained, these chatbots can serve as an automated chat host for website visitors and agencies’ social media channels. Instead of FAQ pages in technical insurance speak or waiting on hold to speak to staff, these plain-speaking AI insurance assistants can take care of many day to day requests from clients. Better still, these automated robots can handle surges in customer service demand and weekend and after-hours calls too.
Adding smart automation to make life better for policyholders and front office staff makes obvious sense. Considering there are hundreds of ways to create bots for insurance, project leaders can discover a strategy that fits their company’s niche or work load.
Some chatbots for insurance can be set up on minutes, with pre-canned dialog for some limited skill areas, a small team can set off into the AI virtual agent game quickly and economically. If these brands are looking to use insurance AI to take care of a specific customer pain point, like automating certificates of insurance requests and delivery, this can yield immediate gains within a short timeline and minimum of investment.
Beyond Chatbots for Dummies
For agents and carriers looking beyond incremental improvements they may want to do more than dip their toe into the new technologies. Carriers and heartier agencies have the option to partner with technology innovators to launch chatbots specifically designed to take care of what matters to their customers, teams and owners. Most of these insurance chatbots have ready-made industry understanding, to know what matters to the insurer and to their policyholders. These may take the form of a multiskilled digital insurance agent, or it may make sense to compartmentalize the AI agents by function. Function-focused AI insurance agents allow insurers to tackle specific parts of their customers’ experience or to automate labor-intensive tasks. While modular agents work with customers and staff on particular tasks, behind the scenes all data is combined along with other internal and external databases. Three favorite modular strategies for AI virtual agents are payments chatbots, quoting chatbots and insurance certificate and insurance card delivery chatbots.
Payments Generate Losses
Agency customer support teams spend about half their time dealing with payments and billing queries. This is a necessary part of the insurance business but customers view it as a chore and staff aren’t thrilled with this repetitive task either. Payments chatbots can take care of answering questions, setting up and taking payments, reminding customers about upcoming payments, and more. Offloading this burden to a never-offline, ever-patient digital agent makes the payment experience swift for policyholders and frees up talented live agents to build rapport with current customers and help sell additional products.
Quoting is Selling
Quoting is time consuming. It’s no surprise it was one of the first tasks insurers moved online to their websites. This seemed so much easier. Collect information on a form and get back to the customer with a quote. This works well enough but customers expect even faster responses and want to still be able to explore options and ask questions. This is where AI quoting chatbots come to the rescue. The virtual insurance agent guides the prospects through everything, answers questions, presents policy choices and helps them compare and come to a decision, all in a conversational manner. Better yet, the virtual agent remembers the conversation hours, days or months later, and can pick up where it left off.
Small Things Make a Difference
Every front office task necessary to support policyholder takes time and, therefore has a cost. Small AI insurance services in the form of certificate and proof of insurance virtual insurance agents all but eliminate this cost. Have a niche product that requires provision of these sort of certificates or documentation? Fast insurance software digital agents can help nudge low or no profit lines to profitability.
For operations and finance, the coming of smart automation through AI get a thumbs up. Once successfully launched, these projects begin to pay for themselves. Where artificial intelligence really pays off is in transformation that true business intelligence these technologies bring. How would it feel to be able to predict which customers will leave? Which ones will purchase add-on products? Which markets and products should be the focus for the next 5, 10, 20 years? What new types of risk would be lucrative to develop products for?
Bringing artificial intelligence enabled technologies into the agency and to the carrier brings the power tools to work on the data resources that are the treasure trove of the insurance industry that is just waiting to be plundered.
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