Tag Archives: Innovation in Action Awards

And the Winner Is…Artificial Intelligence!

Artificial intelligence stands out as one of the hottest technologies in the insurance industry in 2018. We are seeing more insurers identifying use cases, partnering and investing in AI. 85% of insurers are investing time, money and effort into exploring the AI family of technologies. The focus is not so much on the technology itself as on the business challenges AI is addressing.

  • For companies looking to improve internal efficiency, AI can assist through machine learning.
  • For those working to create a dynamic and collaborative customer experience, AI can assist with natural language processing and chatbots.
  • For those seeking an edge in data and analytics, AI can help to gain insights from images with the help of machine learning.

Through our annual SMA Innovation in Action Awards program, we hear many success stories from insurers throughout the industry that are innovating for advantage. AI was a key technology among this year’s submissions. The near-ubiquity of AI was even more obvious among this year’s insurer and solution provider winners, many of whom are leveraging some type of AI to solve widely variant business problems. They have provided some excellent use cases of how insurers are applying AI and how it is helping them to succeed.

Two AI technologies, machine learning and natural language processing, fuel Hi Marley’s intelligent conversational platform, which West Bend Mutual Insurance piloted in claims with outstanding results. The Marley chatbot lets West Bend’s customers text back and forth to receive updates, ask and answer questions and submit photos. Its use of SMS messaging means that communication can be asynchronous and done on a customer’s own schedule, eliminating endless rounds of phone tag.

  • Natural language processing allows Marley to communicate with customers in plain English – both to understand their needs and to respond in a way that they will understand.
  • Machine learning enables Marley to continue to improve. The platform analyzes every conversation and uses it to shape how Marley responds to specific requests, refining its insurance-specific expertise for future interactions.

See also: Strategist’s Guide to Artificial Intelligence  

Natural language processing is also a critical tool for Cake Insure, a digital workers’ comp MGA with a focus on making the quoting experience easier for direct customers. One of the hurdles that would-be customers had to overcome in obtaining workers’ comp coverage was answering a multitude of questions regarding very specific information that a layperson is unlikely to know about or understand.

  • NAIC codes, for example, are required for every workers’ comp policy, but the average small business owner would be baffled if asked about them. Cake circumvents this by asking usera to type in descriptions of their companies in their own words. Natural language processing parses this plain-language description and searches for its approximate match in the NAIC data sets. This back-end process occurs without the user’s awareness and without exposing potentially confusing content.
  • As with Hi Marley’s chatbot functionality, natural language processing is paired with machine learning to improve its ability to respond to specific phrases and content.

Machine learning can also be deployed in conjunction with other AI technologies. Image analysis and computer vision are combined with machine learning in Cape Analytics’ solution, which can automatically identify properties seen in geospatial imagery and extract property attributes relevant to insurers. The result is a continually updated database of property attributes like roof condition and geometry, building footprint and nearby hazards.

  • Computer vision helps turn the unstructured data in photos and videos from drones, satellite and aerial imagery into structured data.
  • Machine learning allows the solution to train itself on how to do that more effectively, as well as higher-level analysis like developing a risk condition score for roofs.

We are only scratching the surface of how AI can be applied across the value chain. The incredible variety of AI’s potential applications in insurance is difficult to overstate. QBE knows that well: It won a company-wide SMA Innovation in Action Award for wide-ranging activities in emerging technologies and partnerships with insurtech startups, but AI in general, and machine learning specifically, are their top priorities. In addition to partnering with dozens of insurtechs, QBE has also pushed itself to deploy each insurtech’s technology somewhere within its business – meaning QBE has dozens of different creative AI applications in play at once. For example, in partnership with HyperScience, QBE is improving data capture from paper documents through machine learning and computer vision.

These winners’ stories demonstrate the myriad ways that insurers are applying AI to improve business operations. Notably, its deployment helps them to significantly improve the customer experience – or, in the case of data capture, the internal employee experience. The need for this kind of seamless customer experience in the digital world cannot be overemphasized. AI, which struck many as a science-fictional concept, has proven its real-world worth by enabling insurers to transform their customer journeys and experience.

With full-scale implementations popping up across the insurance industry, as well as the pilots and limited rollouts that we have seen in previous years, it is easy to lose sight of the fact that we are seeing only the very tip of the iceberg in terms of how AI can transform the business of insurance. Applications of more advanced and advancing AI technologies, as well as the combination of AI with emerging technologies such as drones, new user interaction technologies, autonomous vehicles and IoT, are unexplored territory that is bright with promise.

See also: 3 Steps to Demystify Artificial Intelligence  

This much is clear: AI will change the face of the insurance industry. In fact, it’s already happening.

For more information on the SMA Innovation in Action Awards program and this year’s winners, please click here.

To download a free copy of SMA’s white paper AI in P&C Insurance: Pragmatic Approaches for Today, Promise for Tomorrow, please click here.

A Look at 3 Leading Next-Gen Insurers

As the June 30 deadline approaches for the 2016 SMA Innovation in Action Award submissions, let’s take a look back at our insurer winners from 2015: Haven Life Insurance Agency, John Hancock and USAA. Their innovative projects and initiatives have demonstrated how they are rethinking and reinventing the business of insurance and furthering their progress toward becoming a Next-Gen insurer. Insurers that are considering submitting an application to the 2016 Innovation in Action Awards program can see from these examples what a winning business and technology project/initiative might look like.

See also: How to Enable the Next-Gen Insurer

The Next-Gen insurer model is based on five foundational areas of transformation: customer, products and services, technology and data, business model and innovative culture. (For more information on the Next-Gen Insurer model and its foundational areas, click here.) Insurers are taking creative approaches in all of these areas, and the 2015 winners are no exception. Winners are listed in alphabetical order.

Next Gen

  • Haven Life Insurance Agency made a real leap forward for the entire insurance industry in the area of products and services by offering medically underwritten life insurance that can be purchased online. Haven simplified an arduous paper-based application process of four to six weeks to better meet the expectations of today’s customer. The company did this by leveraging technology and data – specifically, external data fed through sophisticated algorithms – to greatly reduce the amount of information that the customer has to provide to receive a quote. A partnership with MassMutual gives Haven Life access to the resources of a large organization while retaining the innovative culture that sparked the transformative approach to selling, underwriting and administering life insurance.
  • The John Hancock Vitality Program reimagined the relationship between an insurer and its policyholders, creating a unique customer experience in the traditionally low-touch world of life insurance. The program rewards policyholders for healthy behavior such as exercising and getting annual physicals. These activities can be tracked through wearables technology and data via a free Fitbit or logged online through a computer or a mobile app. John Hancock uses this data in an online rewards program that offers premium savings, among other rewards, changing the business model for this life insurance product. In addition to rewards, policyholders can receive individualized encouragement toward further healthy behavior, a value-added service that represents a real advance in life insurance products and services.
  • USAA pioneered the use of drones in the insurance industry, showing what this technology and data can do for insurers, especially in P&C claims. After mudslides hit Oso, WA, USAA’s deployment of drones for damage assessment established a new and vital service for policyholders in post-disaster situations, pushing the envelope in the foundational area of products and services.

See also: 6 Key Ways to Drive Innovation

The real progress that these three insurers are making toward becoming Next-Gen insurers is evident in the effects these groundbreaking initiatives have on the five Next-Gen Insurer foundational areas. They are also fantastic examples of how thoughtful approaches to innovation can make insurers stand out from the crowd in the industry.

2016 Awards Logo

This is the fifth year of our SMA Innovation in Action Awards program, which honors insurers and solution providers that are putting innovation into action with creative projects, initiatives, technologies or solutions that further insurers’ progress toward the goal of becoming Next-Gen Insurers. We encourage you to apply for the SMA Innovation in Action Insurer Award or the Solution Provider Award to share your successful innovations!

Submissions are due by June 30, 2016. A full program description, FAQs and links to the applications for both awards can all be found on the SMA website.

Innovation Awards for Solution Providers

Three solution providers have been recognized for truly ground-breaking projects and initiatives with demonstrable real-world impact, following the recognition of three insurers. SMA also published a collection of case studies on all the solution provider award submissions this year, showcasing the remarkable innovation taking place in the industry today.

The insurance ecosystem encourages the holistic spread of innovation, with insurers and solution providers working together to create new capabilities and adopt new technologies. Next-Gen Insurers that are reinventing the business of insurance for the 21st century depend on advances in four main areas: business models, infrastructure, products and services and customer engagement. The solution providers to watch understand and support these changes, helping insurers to actualize the value from the market’s shifts and ultimate evolution.

This year’s submissions for the SMA Innovation in Action Award for Solution Providers demonstrate the strides that solution providers are making in those areas. By developing creative solutions that are embracing new technologies and leveraging innovative approaches to solve important business challenges, the 2015 award winners show what kind of value insurers can gain from their solutions and their partnership.

This year’s solution provider winners are:

Livegenic, which offers a patented, mobile, real-time video platform to help insurance organizations reduce claims handling costs and improve customer satisfaction. Livegenic connects a policyholder with a claims customer service representative through live video without disconnecting the phone call. Claims professionals can see what the customer sees while on the phone, enhancing first notice of loss, underwriting, field operations and supplemental claims.

Social Intelligence, which offers a sophisticated scoring platform that leverages publicly available social media data and the Internet of Things for improved risk assessment. The solution helps insurers by aggregating data and offering access to new predictive, reliable and less expensive data sources. Social Intelligence’s Social Media Risk Scoring provides another layer of risk assessment that insurers can utilize in real time across life and personal and commercial P&C lines of business at critical stages in the policy lifecycle, including point of sale, claims filing, first notice of loss and renewals.

Wallflower Labs, which offers a patent-pending solution to reduce the number of unattended cooking fires and associated claims. Wallflower’s Electric Range Smart Cord and Gas Range Smart Valve enable ranges and cooktops to remind homeowners that they are operating, through smartphone push notifications, and to allow for remote or automatic shutoff. Wallflower solutions can also provide insights into cooking behavior and trends by capturing information about household range/cooktop use to improve how insurers price their homeowners insurance products.

By delivering new tools that help insurers to improve their businesses, the winners of this award are blazing a trail with innovative approaches and raising the bar for solution providers everywhere to provide creative offerings and help insurers achieve real-world value. This year’s submissions for the solution provider awards show the vital role that innovation plays within the industry and offer commendable examples of innovation in action.