The ITIJ team have been reporting from ITIC APAC 2023 in Sydney this week (18-20 June) sharing the discussions that took place at the conference. Read all reports
Jane Hegeler, Relationship Manager, Nordic Insurance Software
Hegeler began by noting how technology has been constantly changing and growing within the industry for the last 15 years. She identified that people were becoming more reliant on modern technology and cited the ubiquity of smartphones carried by travellers: “Something like 90% of adult travellers travel with a mobile smartphone device.”
With this growth in accessible modern technology, she stated that users’ expectations had also been affected: “Demands and expectations have become pretty instant, and we want everything on demand.”
As a result, the industry has had to keep pace and grow its systems and technology to evolve with customers’ requirements. Along with consumer demand, insurtech investment in the digital space has helped organisations adapt and improve their technological offering towards continuous digital growth. Hegeler warned that there is a risk of losing market position if this change is ignored: “If you don’t embrace or adopt technology, then you do risk losing your foothold in the market.”
Despite the progress that insurance and medical assistance firms have made, Hegeler noted that there is still ‘lots of room for improvement in our industry’.
Hegeler reviewed statistics of insurtech investment in life and health (L&H), and property and casualty (P&C) insurance over the previous six years, highlighting the particular growth in 2021, but noted that there was a dip in recent quarters that needed to be addressed: “It decreased last year and hasn’t increased this year – there is a need to get back on returns.”
Citing the Covid-19 pandemic, Hegeler identified the ways that it impacted on the industry, and how fast-track digitalisation was used to recover from the effects caused by the pandemic. She listed seven avenues for digitalisation:
- Quickly mobilised operations
- Increased scalability for surge and growth
- Better availability/reliability of cloud services
- Ability for automation of claims and bulk processing
- Quick policy adaption
- Complex claims experience
- Staff retention and attractive recruitment incentives.
There is no need any more for human interaction in the sales channel
Hegeler highlighted how embedded insurance has increased by 10 per cent in the previous 12 months. Aggregators have also affected sales, and there is increasing flexibility and allowing the customer to ‘cherry pick the type of coverage’ that they want. She also stated that technology has changed sales by removing human interactions: “There is no need any more for human interaction in the sales channel … because of AI,” and people can often perform real-time medical declarations. She also stated that because the way that technology has developed, consumers are also getting their policy documents instantly, providing a speed of delivery never before seen. Hegeler also pointed out that there are some companies providing policies in situ, explaining: “Traditionally you would buy a policy before you left or started your travel. Nowadays, there are some companies that will actually … cover you while you are already on holiday.” She added that ‘if we didn’t have technology, that wouldn’t be possible’.
The development of technology has increased the expectation of services that were once a luxury, Hegeler stated: “There was a time when an app or an online claims form was a nice thing to have. In this day and age, it’s a given that you have this technology in place to submit your claim online.” Automation has also taken the burden away from handling many standard and straightforward claims. Hegeler identified parametric claims as a product that is enabled by the growth in technological advances, where companies are proactively sending out vouchers and compensations before even the policyholder has checked their policy, since their details are uploaded into a system linked to the events related to their travel, such as a flight delay causing the issuance of an airport meal voucher. Technology also helps prevent loss from fraud with inbuilt fraud detections, Hegeler noted: “Detectors are now built into platforms so that you can monitor if there’s, for example, repeat bank account details, repeat offenders or certain claims types, or medical reports are being duplicated.” Further, Hegeler showed how automation increases efficiency and reduces the lifecycles of claims, leaving staff free to be more productive and able to ‘focus on the more complex things, such as medical assistance’.
Everything can be simplified and automated through the use of business rules within a platform
Within medical assistance, Hegeler informed that systems are designed to support operations teams by being ‘task based’ and can help with training because they can trigger the information that needs to be collected on a case. She also discussed how the systems can be automated to take care of the guarantee of payment and the explanation of benefits, for instance, all embedded within that system. These systems can also aid with triaging to team members, activating third parties, getting quotes from air ambulances and requesting medical reports. Hegeler said: “Everything can be simplified and automated through the use of business rules within a platform. This streamlines your operations and then it eases up on your staff and your teams so that they can focus on the human interaction, which is so often needed in the case of medical assistance.” Hegeler said that systems can also provide ‘a platform for scalability’ allowing organisations to scale up or down operations as required.
Hegeler assured the audience that there is nothing to be afraid of when it comes to embracing new technology and updating old legacy systems, as the new systems are agile and easily implemented.
The ease of ‘plug and play’ systems allow for quick implementation and trials of the software
They can be ‘off the shelf’ or customised, allowing companies to have options when it comes to choosing the system that would work for them. Furthermore, she said that the accessibility of cloud-based systems is vastly improved for anyone with internet connectivity. Hegeler also assured the audience that these systems are easily deployed and easily connected with third-party providers, allowing integration with air ambulances, hospitals, funeral directors, payment platforms or human resources systems. She also stated that the ease of ‘plug and play’ systems allow for quick implementation and trials of the software, and that the scalability of modern systems with off-the-shelf products leads to ‘a decrease of in-house maintenance costs’ as there is no requirement for a heavy IT infrastructure. A huge benefit of these systems, Hegeler said, was the enhanced data analysis capabilities: “They can pull in your data and have a look and cross reference and understand your business, your clients, where your risks may be, what your trends are in terms of collecting data for a particular average pricing and setting reserves etc.”