Disrupting the insurance industry with virtual assistants

Michaela Muruianu

How can the world of insurance benefit from artificial intelligence and virtual assistants? Michaela Muruianu, Innovation Co-ordinator at Digital Catapult, shares some of the key points from our recent Pit Stop with Swiss Re.

As artificial intelligence becomes steadily integrated with our daily lives; from virtual assistants on our phones to recommended items on retail sites like Amazon and Ebay, we ask the question “How will artificial intelligence benefit the different sectors that we work in?”

Earlier this year, a Pit Stop was held, focusing on the insurance sector. Leading UK companies in machine learning and chatbot services, together with Swiss Re and Digital Catapult’s experts, explored what insurance journeys could look like in 15 years. Participants embarked on future scoping activites and brainstormed what insurers can do today to prepare for change. Here’s a digest of our findings:

Scene setting: The rise of the bot

In the future, virtual assistants will be ubiquitous. Besides ordering taxis and teaching the capitals of lesser known countries, the bots will have the potential to know almost everything about you; your health, finances, temperament, conversation style and even if you like pasta al dente or overcooked, all whilst doing their best to represent your interests in relationships with third parties, including other bots.

Swiss Re Pit Stop

To do this, virtual assistants will need to display high levels of general knowledge and emotional intelligence, have industry-specific expertise (e.g., insurance, banking and healthcare), understand contexts, changing intent and have the capability of making decisions based on facts and arguments.

Whilst the deployment of our concierge/friend/adviser-bot is still some way off, there are a number of relatively simple steps that insurers can take now to improve customer experience and increase loyalty. For example:

Insurance Knowledge Vault

Insurance is often regarded as a jargon-heavy industry; the majority of consumers therefore do not fully understand or have complete confidence in this sector. The good news is insurers are well aware of this issue and are looking for new ways to bring clarity to their communication and processes. Insurers could consider creating knowledge platforms similar to Investopedia; together with plain English terms, this could help consumers better understand their rights and obligations, strengthen the bond between insurers and customers and ultimately build brand loyalty.

Free The Data

Getting access to personal data, especially medical information, can fundamentally change the way underwriting is done. By agreeing to share information about their health and lifestyle, consumers could benefit from more accurate pricing and more personalised offers, with the benefit of better-informed risk assessments for insurers. Although it could be a win-win, insurers need to be cautious about the way in which they intend to use data.

Swiss Re Pit Stop

While hyper-personalised products are positively received, consumers do not like to feel tracked, analysed, profiled and labelled by commercial entities. In addition to consumer scepticism, new data protecting legislations like GDPR will make entities even more accountable for the ways in which they handle data. Consumer consent for data accessing will be essential if insurers are keen to unlock the benefits of data-driven services.

Although there’s still a long way to go before we will have chatty, empathetic and deeply intelligent bots, positive change can be brought to insurance today with rather simple, low-tech or even no-tech solutions. For starters, insurers could become more user-centric with more transparent processes, which would increase customer trust. In the long run, insurers could nurture this trust by giving consumers a sense of agency and equip them with tools to enable co-creation of new products and services that have the consumer’s needs at heart.

Michaela Muruianu is Innovation Co-ordinator at Digital Catapult. You can follow her on Twitter @Michaela_Lapkin and us @DigiCatapult.

What is a Pit Stop and how can you get involved? Watch our video to find out.

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