With the ability to reduce labour costs, robotic process automation (RPA) in the insurance industry can increase productivity and output. One of the first industries to witness the widespread adoption of RPA, the insurance industry are now experiencing tangible benefits from the technology.
The pandemic continues to challenge insurers in an onslaught of employee attrition, which can create a backlog of agent and customer transaction fulfilment and inquiries thereby choking operations
Sathya Sethuraman, Director of Global Insurance Practice at UiPath, explained how this impacted the quality of work and what RPA can do to help: “To keep up, contact centre agents may find themselves rushing to process customer sales and service requests, which can jeopardise the quality of work they’re delivering. Legacy systems make it worse, only slowing insurers down further, as retrieving information from disparate locations can quickly become disorganised and prone to human error. Overwhelmed workers are at increased risk of making mistakes while handling a customer case, the consequences of which can range from inconvenient to compromising.”
“Automations can be created on top of the existing systems, meaning these systems can be integrated so that data and underlying processes can be much more streamlined, enabling an easier digital transformation. Once the legacy systems are integrated with automation, it’s easy to create hands-on and hands-off robots that automate repetitive tasks, reduce process costs and cycle times, and free up time to focus on higher-value work like pursuing new business,” he added.
Stressing the importance of automation as insurers digitally transform and keep up with large amounts of repetitive tasks, Jerry Wallis, Head of Industry Strategy at Blue Prism said: “RPA is one of the fundamental technologies that digital labour relies on to deliver speed, flexibility and personal service. It allows a digital worker to use all those legacy systems in the same way its human colleagues do, but far quicker, more accurately and 24/7. In this way, RPA is the foundational technology that insurers need to implement to create a ‘unified workforce’ that makes the best use of human and digital labour.”
Using automation technology across the insurance enterprise
RPA can be applied across a number of applications within insurance, for claims management, Wallis explained: “Digital labour can review new claims, checking for completeness of information, reducing delays and repeated request for information. In many cases it can make payment decisions very quickly (because they are rules-based), in more complex cases it can keep the claimant informed of the progress of their claim (by far the biggest cause reason for calls into the contact centre). In conjunction with image analysis AI, it can determine the severity of damage or even determine from images of damaged cars the likelihood of a personal injury claim, improving the customer experience and, at the same time, allowing the insurer to manage legal expenses more closely.”
For underwriting, RPA can be trained to collect and prepare the information needed by the human underwriter to make a decision whether to offer cover and at what price.
Within an insurers call centre, RPA can be an invaluable tool in saving an employees time and improving the customer experience, as Sethuraman noted: “Insurers can programme software robots to aggregate critical information as needed and present it as a dashboard to brokers, independent agents, and contact centre agents to help with need-based selling and servicing. With all the information they need directed to them by digital assistants, agents become more adept and productive, thereby enabling them to work more accurately and to efficiently process and service their customers’ needs. Additionally, agents will have more time to interact with consumers themselves, which can distinguish their agency as one truly committed to understanding and supporting its customers.”
“Typically, at an insurance enterprise, when a customer calls into the support line with a question about billing, it goes straight to a call centre agent. The agent must spend time asking a myriad of repetitive follow-up questions to confirm a customer’s identity and understand the situation, then spend more time searching for a customer’s account information across multiple systems just to identify the issue. With automation, as soon as the call comes in, a software robot begins aggregating the relevant customer data for the agent. Through a combination of customer sentiment and behaviour analytics, the robot then pulls actionable information into a streamlined application with quick access to next steps for the agent to execute on,” he continued.
For all its uses, RPA not only makes existing operations more efficient, but automation also helps insurers utilise newer technologies such as machine learning with ease of integration to support decision making in underwriting and claims adjustment.
Sethuraman concluded: “Automation technology excels in its ability to work in conjunction with complimenting human judgement in pricing and claim payments thereby enhancing the workforce productivity to deliver enterprise results.”