Tag Archives: John Hancock

Keys to ‘Intelligent Automation’

With new technologies and evolving customer expectations driving rapid change in the insurance sector, research suggests that more than 65% of insurance carriers will adopt at least limited automation by 2024. But, today, the insurance sector largely relies on multiple layers of manual processes that make customers wait while employees try to make sense of complex documents.

Intelligent automation (IA) offers insurance businesses an opportunity to revolutionize the way they operate to meet increasing demands from customers and pressures from the market and to plan for future, unanticipated interruptions. Through the combination of robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning (ML), IA solves complex enterprise issues through the end-to-end automation of a business process.

The Insurance Ecosystem Involves Many Parties and a Deluge of Data

Many third parties are involved in the end-to-end insurance lifecycle. That’s the case whether you are in commercial, employee benefits, retail or any other type of insurance. A lot of information gets passed around. 

Brokers and insurers share data and documents. Advisers working with clients provide information, as do others, such as loss adjusters and lawyers. And the data arrives in the format preferred by the person who shares it.

That Data Comes in a Variety of Formats 

Data used for insurance purposes comes in many formats — structured, unstructured and semi-structured — and must be ingested, understood and digitized with accuracy before any automated processing takes place. This involves making sense of data such as cursive handwriting, which is commonly found in life insurance change-of-address and name-change forms, as well as in beneficiary documents. Insurance entities must extract data from highly unstructured employee benefits documents, such as dental, income protection, long- and short-term disability and medical documents. 

Brokers and insurers also need to compare and extract data from binders/slips, which can be up to 400 pages long and may use different words to describe the same thing. Insurers looking to ingest unstructured data (like email attachments, handwritten documents, PDFs and unlabeled data) — which is estimated to compose 80% of any enterprise’s data — can find their answer with cognitive machine reading (CMR).

While the industry’s standard data ingestion tool — optical character recognition (OCR) — can digitize structured data, it falls down when it comes to reading and extracting unstructured data such as tables, checkboxes and many other forms. In addition, OCR can’t read and digitize handwriting and signatures. 

A CMR-enabled intelligent automation platform (IAP) can analyze and process large amounts of unstructured data and complex business contracts in a fraction of the time it takes with traditional, manual processes. An IAP enables insurance companies to address the error-, labor- and time-intensive challenges involved with human-driven processes. 

For example, a global broking client wanted to extract 17 data points from commercial policies and endorsements. The documents came in from many different insurance carriers and in varying formats. All the data points required rules or reference tables to make the output usable, and most of the data didn’t have labels. In just a three-week period, with the samples of only 220 documents, with 40 different formats, multiple insurers and 10 coverage types, an IAP learned to extract 98.7% of the data, with 96.8% accuracy. Following this proof of concept, the client decided to implement this solution in multiple geographies.

See also: Automation Lets Compassion Scale   

CMR Allows Insurance Entities to Do More

John Hancock illustrates the many benefits businesses can derive from a CMR-enabled IAP. The company originally used manual processes to handle the large volume of policy management documents it received. Many of those documents held vast amounts of unstructured data — especially handwritten text in bold and cursive. 

Since adopting AntWorks’ CMR-enabled IAP solution, John Hancock has enjoyed higher business productivity, lower turnaround times and a more than 65% increase in accuracy for handwritten cursive recognition. Because the AntWorks IAP uses assistive and adaptive machine learning to learn from exceptions, the system’s accuracy gets better over time.

Insurance entities also can greatly increase their case volumes with the help of CMR. Using manual processes would require armies of people to do validation checks and take a lot more time, while producing higher error rates.

One of the world’s largest human resources consulting firms implemented AntWorks technology to manage large volumes of data and provide optimized quotations to customers for new policies and renewals. This company eliminated manual keying and automated healthcare claims-related processes by extracting data from paper documents and validating for accuracy. That enabled 70% faster processing and a 40% increase in accuracy.

A Fortune 500 insurance company that provides title insurance protection and professional settlement services found that the manual process of validating title documents was leading to error-prone and inconsistent output. CMR technology enabled this company to increase field accuracy across orders by more than 75% and increase productivity by 200%. (Field accuracy is one of the key performance indicators that insurance companies, their technology suppliers and analyst firms like NelsonHall use to evaluate automation solutions. For example, NelsonHall in its SmartLabTest evaluation of document cognition platforms looks at the proportion of fields correctly recognized, accuracy of extraction of recognized fields and proportion of fields overall that are 100% accurate and require no manual intervention.)

IAP Equates to Faster Time to Revenue and Richer User and Employee Experiences

When insurers adopt automation, they dramatically improve the experience for all parties — the broker, the customer and the insurer. They relieve employees from doing what is considered value-added but repetitive work like manual data entry. Automation also eliminates the need for error-prone, stare-and-compare work that’s common in the insurance industry.

That elevates the customer experience because IA allows insurance companies to process requests and respond much more quickly. Digitizing processes also delivers a better experience because customers don’t have to contend with the cumbersome process of filling out and handling paper forms. Meanwhile, IA enables insurance businesses to enrich their data with both structured and unstructured data from other sources and use data analytics and predictive analytics to make their propositions better and more personalized. 

IA also can enable businesses in the insurance ecosystem to move faster. That can help them to be more profitable.

Imagine a person is underwriting a life insurance case. If the data that person submits for the case is referred, an insurer would then have to go out to a doctor to get a medical report value. The underwriter would need to assess that report to understand whether it’s an acceptable case and communicate with the customer.

Getting and processing all the data can take weeks, delaying the policy kick-off. But if you can use intelligent automation to understand the data within medical reports, use rules to decide whether to accept or decline and automate the outcome, things happen much faster. 

The title insurance protection and professional settlement services insurance company mentioned earlier reduced its processing time by 70% after adopting a CMR-based IAP solution. Meanwhile, the human resources consulting firm noted above increased its operational efficiency by speeding turn-around time, leading to higher customer renewals, an uptick in new customers and increased revenues. 

Process Discovery Helps Companies Better Understand the Work They Do

Often, a lack of knowledge and understanding of process flows leads to automation failure. If you’re not quite sure which processes are the most optimal to automate or you’re not clear on all the steps involved in your process (and you don’t have time to do workshops with lots of analysts and business subject matter experts to figure things out), then process discovery is an excellent way of understanding exactly how the process is conducted. 

Process discovery enables organizations to identify high-value processes for automation by recording actions that users undertake. If an organization can look at, say, 10 different people doing the same process, it can better understand not only how the process really works but also all the variations in the process, including things like the different process times and different applications accessed. The discovery enables the organization to see the steps involved and create automated processes that use the optimal approaches to those processes. The organizations can then apply what they learned to claims data extraction, fraud detection, mortgage verification and processing, account set-up, policy administration, quotation validation, title verification and a wide variety of other insurance use cases.

In addition to helping companies better understand their processes, process discovery can help in identifying opportunities for automation, expedite digital transformation and unveil previously unknown processes for in-depth process mapping.

See also: Evolving Trends in a Post-Covid-19 World  

Intelligent Automation Makes Companies More Resilient

Our new normal puts increased focus on the importance of business resiliency. Manual processes work against that because they often mean that workers need to go to physical business locations to handle paperwork. That creates risk in today’s environment. Intelligent automation frees people and organizations from on-site, paper-based manual processes and instead relies on processes that are better suited to today’s digital, distributed, remote work world. IA also scales, as needed, to adjust to changing circumstances.

The time has come for insurance companies to look at ways to improve their operational processes through technology innovation. IA has the capabilities to help insurance practitioners to do business much faster, more efficiently and with greater security.

Key Technology Trends for Insurers in 2019

In 2019, we will see many of the 2018 technology trends continue but with an added focus on business transformation and value.

Innovation

In 2019, we will see continued investments in insurtechs and fintechs, as more companies realize the value of technologies that enable the delivery of next-generation digital experience, especially in the area of customer engagement. Consumers’ demands are driving the need for better self-service capabilities, mobile capabilities and engagement tools.

As with John Hancock’s use of Vitality and with SE2’s investment in Life.io, we’ve seen the creation of next-generation customer engagement platforms that leverage wearables and other social and industry data to get unique insights into prospects’ and policyholders’ lives. That allows these companies to offer better needs-based, more personalized products. As insurers are able to access higher-quality data, there will be more experimenting with analytical models and algorithms to transform the underwriting, sales and marketing paradigms. Additionally, the ability to access consumer data in real time will continue to drive innovation in the insurance industry.

Companies like Human API and Clareto are bridging the gap between heath information exchanges, healthcare providers and life insurance carriers, enabling them to fine-tune underwriting, claims and other business processes. Helping consumers live a better life and have a holistic approach to manage both their mortality and income risks is the way to go rather than sell point solutions with aggressive sales tactics.

See also: 3 Insurtech Trends Accelerating in 2019  

Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning

While there continues to be excitement and conversation around artificial intelligence and machine learning, the fact of the matter is that the insurance industry as a whole continues to struggle with adoption. Issues around data governance still need to be solved, data rationalization is not complete and data quality continues to remain a major challenge for insurers.

Looking ahead in 2019, there will be more work in this area as insurers make progress in putting into place the foundational elements needed to create a strong data paradigm that will enable AI and ML adoption as well as generate real business value. There will be progress made in creating and enhancing data repositories, data lakes and other foundational infrastructure technologies. This year will see a refocus on AI and ML — especially in conversational AI — that will enable insurers to streamline and augment the work of their own employees and distribution network, ultimately providing a superior experience to policyholders.

Digital Transformation

Driven by customers’ market needs, digital transformation continues to remain a key priority in 2019. Many insurers remain constrained by the complexity of their back-end systems, resulting in very real concerns around agility, value and delivering the right consumer experience. Consumers are demanding more simplified products, as well as a growing preference for bundled products with the overlap of income and mortality risk. Without a nimble, flexible architecture in place, many insurers struggle with launching products fast enough to capture new customers with these preferences and gain market share.

The year 2019 will see an increase in insurers looking to create effective and efficient direct-to-consumer distribution channels or other digital distribution channels to reach the vastly underserved middle market and millennial customer segments. Additionally, there will be increased pressure by the market for lower pricing, leading insurers to create cost efficiencies through digitization of back-end processes, increasing usage of RPA (robotic process automation), STP (straight-through processing) and digitized operations processes throughout the entire lifecycle of the policy.

There is not only a price play but a consistency and a quality play that our industry struggles with, as well. At SE2, we call this moving from a “high touch” to “low touch with hugs” operating model.

End-to-End Platform Modernization

Driven by the need to reduce or eliminate outdated legacy technologies and address business and technology architecture complexity, an end-to-end platform modernization focus will be a very high priority for life and annuity insurers this year. Insurance carriers are realizing that the investments they’ve made in front-end digital capabilities are not giving them adequate return on investment without a fully digitized, modern and simplified back-end system. These delay the time it takes to launch products and hamper the ability to streamline business models. With a digital, open architecture platform, insurers can easily integrate systems and plug in APIs to extend their capabilities.

See also: 8 Key Insurtech Trends for 2019  

Overall, 2019 should be yet another interesting year for our industry and SE2, as we see billions of dollars of innovation spending led by tech giants like Google, Amazon and Microsoft, and the L&A industry finally beginning to reposition itself.

IoT: Collaboration Is Now Mandatory

The definition of collaboration is the action of working with someone to produce or create something. That seems far too simplistic a way to describe the many types of collaboration already at work in the insurance industry and moreover does not begin to convey the looming and enormous demand for working together that will be required for success in implementing the Insurance Internet of Things (IoT).

Historically, the insurance industry has had to use a wide variety of collaboration tools to succeed as data, information, consumer behavior, products and regulations changed with increasing velocity. These tools included e-mail, texting, instant messaging, content management systems, enterprise social platforms and formal enterprise collaboration software. Insurers have even begun to leverage the use of digital technology and web-based collaboration tools such as Slack to empower employees, enhance user experiences, improve internal communication and strengthen agent and broker relationships.

See also: Insurance and the Internet of Things  

Looking beyond insurance companies themselves, we note the emergence of insurtech accelerators and incubators, both independent and captive. What is becoming apparent is that there is a convergence taking place between these entrepreneurial startups and the traditional carriers, sparking collaboration between the new, small and fast market entrants with the old, big and slow incumbents. Much more of this kind of collaboration will be required for the insurance industry to survive and thrive in tomorrow’s world.

New forms of collaboration are emerging in the insurance ecosystem, some more formal than others. Strategic alliances and partnerships are being announced daily, as are vendor-vendor and carrier-carrier arrangements. Recent examples are plentiful; CoreLogic joined the Guidewire PartnerConnect program to deliver more accurate property risk pricing and residential estimating more efficiently to Guidewire’s property insurance customer base, and Insurity collaborated with Allstate Business Insurance to quickly deliver a new self-service quoting app with convenient data pre-fill.

Co-opetition is a more innovative form of collaboration that has been gaining traction. Former competitors work together to leverage a common, defined opportunity that yields better results for each company than either could have achieved on its own. In the world of insurance IoT, of which the connected car is a major subset, we increasingly see original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) participating in programs with auto insurers with telematics data exchanges and with each other in developing vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication standards.

In other areas of insurance IoT, we are seeing a rapidly increasing number of health and property insurtech partnership announcements with insurers delivering innovative new risk-management products and services to consumers (e.g. Vitality-John Hancock, Roost-Liberty Mutual, True Motion-Progressive, etc.).

As the number of connected things expands exponentially, so, too, will the frequency and velocity of data generated by these sensors and devices. The ability to receive, normalize, manage and use all of this digital data will quickly exceed the capacity and expertise of even the largest insurers, so collaboration with a new generation of information management and data science providers will be mandatory.

See also: 12 Issues Inhibiting the Internet of Things  

For insurers and others to successfully navigate this burgeoning ecosystem, access to relevant knowledge and competitive information will also be mandatory, and one effective way to gain these insights is participation in subject-specific industry conferences where expert speakers and industry thought leaders share their experiences and insights. One such event is the Insurance IoT USA Summit taking place in Chicago on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

So critical will be effective collaboration in the future that it is conceivable that formal courses, certifications and degrees in collaboration will be offered by business schools in response to the exploding demand for this set of business skills and expertise driven by IoT proliferation and adoption. In any event, participants in the insurance ecosystem that best master the art of collaboration are sure to be the market leaders of the IoT future.

Sensors and the Next Wave of IoT

Spies and “bugs” have made frequent appearances in movies, books and television. In the James Bond movie series, we see an array of devices that were designed for 007 by “Q.” In the 1997 movie, Tomorrow Never Dies, Bond’s BMW car and mobile phone provide the first glimpses of the potential of the Internet of Things (IoT). He remotely starts and drives the vehicle to escape the villains, while operating a number of built-in devices from the phone as the car views and senses issues. Q was always on the leading edge of new technology for Bond.

Fast forward 20 years, and we now have sensors and capabilities in so many things … in our appliances, automobiles, mobile phones and a host of common wearables. You may not think of these as “bugs,” but they are. They are mini- and micro-technology components employed to see, listen, learn, assess and respond. The only difference between today’s sensors and yesterday’s is that today’s sensors are infinitely better at reading and recording data — and they may be used for the common good.

To prove that they are still considered “bugs,” however, you only need to look at a bill introduced recently by U.S. Sens. Mark Warner (VA) and Cory Gardner (CO). The Internet of Things Cyber Security Improvement Act is aimed to protect the federal government from cyber intrusion through the Internet of Things. Their bill raises a great point — sensors need built-in security measures that will allow for the good features to be used without introducing new risks.

See also: Insurance and the Internet of Things  

Good Bugs Eat Risk

In the insurance industry, we understand the implications of sensors and their ability to lower risk. “Bugs” and sensors are now our best friends. In our Future Trends 2017: The Shift Gains Momentum report, we examined how IoT experimentation and implementation is reaching into every area of insurance. Here is a short list of innovative ideas introduced by early adopters of IoT in insurance:

  • Progressive, via the Snapshot usage-based-insurance telematics offering, monitored how customers drove using an OBD plug-in device from Zubie.
  • Liberty Mutual partnered with Google to use NEST connected smoke alarms in the home to help customers reduce fire risk and carbon monoxide poisoning while also reducing their homeowners insurance premium.
  • Beam Dental began pricing dental insurance based on smart toothbrush usage data.
  • John Hancock used wearable devices to track the well-being of customers, lowering life insurance premiums and offering an incentive program through Vitality to shop for an array of things.
  • Oscar, a health insurance startup, used wearable fitness trackers and a mobile app to help track and encourage members to be fit, find doctors, access health history, access the doctor on call and connect to Apple Health.

In addition to the last two examples above, companies are using wearable devices and the data generated from them to better assess individuals for healthcare, life insurance, workers compensation and investment rewards based on their activity and lifestyle. Innovative insurers are using wearables to provide improved underwriting discounts, rewards, claims monitoring and new services using real-time data. The new services can include advice on healthy living, real-time healthcare and prevention, real-time monitoring and assistance in treatment or recovery plans and determining return to work timeframes for injuries or other health-related incidents. These all contribute to enhanced customer experiences, longer customer lives and improved insurer investment options.

There’s No Limit to Sensor Growth

This rapid experimentation and use of IoT isn’t just limited to wearables, telematics and smoke detectors. Sensors of all kinds are being born into healthcare environments, construction sites, commercial buildings, roads and bridges, homes and cars.

  • By 2025, the Internet of Things will be worth trillions annually.
  • Connected homes will grow rapidly by 30% per year in the U.S. alone, where 22% of households now have at least one connected device.
  • The wearable device market is expected to more than double over the next five years.

Sensors Should Reduce Claims

With the proliferation of companies innovating and taking new offerings to market using IoT, we are seeing the beginning of a huge boom in insurers using IoT to drive an engaging customer experience through personalized insurance offerings, reduced costs and new value-added services. The Boston Consulting Group estimated that U.S. insurers could reduce annual claims by 40% to 60% with real-time IoT. The key is that insurers will be able to move from paying claims to mitigating or eliminating risk by engaging with customers via IoT devices while also enhancing the customer experience.

What’s Next for the IoT? Better bugs?

Though so much remains uncertain and untested, we should expect to see a rapid evolution of technologies to sort out which sensors are most valuable in which locations and just how IoT can bring cost-effective monitoring to market.

For example, P&C insurers were quick to pick up on OBD technology, with installed devices in vehicles. In many cases, mobile phone monitoring soon became a more cost-effective solution. Most smart phones have GPS capability and an accelerometer. And now automotive manufacturers are embedding sensors and telematics in vehicles to enhance safety and position themselves toward autonomous driving vehicles – just like Bond.

As some wearable technologies are dropping out of the running, life and health insurers will soon be taking advantage of advancements in smart watch design. The first wave of wearables looked like digital tech devices with touchscreens and LED displays. The next wave is the introduction of smart tech into “normal”-looking watches from standard manufacturers like Movado, Tag Heuer, Fossil and Tommy Hilfiger. Android Wear technology will be feeding the data. These would be much more like Q would have designed, and they will undoubtedly be worn by many who wouldn’t normally use an Apple Watch or a FitBit.

A similar technology wave is beginning to hit homes. Currently, sensors are in use in some thermostats, appliances, lighting systems, security systems, computer and gaming devices. But one of the drawbacks to having so many sensors is that most companies haven’t networked all of them to a single IoT data framework. This hinders the ability to aggregate the data across sensors, limiting the potential value. Every new data point requires a new type of sensor. As with OBD devices, attaching a sensor to everything may even become non-essential, in favor of one centrally located device with multiple sensors.

PhD students at Carnegie Mellon University have been developing a plug-in sensor package they call a “Synthetic Sensor.” Plug it into an outlet, and that room is immediately a smart room. Instead of a smart sensor on every item in the room, multiple sensors in the device track many items, people and safety concerns at once. The device can detect if anything seems to be “wrong” when appliances are in use by analyzing machine vibrations. And, of course, it can track usage patterns. The sensor can even track things insurers may not need to know, like how many paper towels are still left on a roll.

See also: How the ‘Internet of Things’ Affects Strategic Planning  

So, would P&C insurers like to be connected to the water heater thermometer, or have access to a device that can hear pops and leaks? Would L&A insurers like to know the lifestyle and behaviors of their customers to encourage healthy living?  Much of this will be sorted out in the coming years.

What doesn’t need to be sorted out is that insurers will want access to device data – and they will pay for it. They will need to be running systems that will readily hold the data, analyze it and use it effectively. Cloud storage of device data and even cloud analytics will play a tremendous role in giving value to IoT data streams.

IoT advancements are exciting! They hold promise for insurers, and they certainly will make many of our environments safer and smarter.

Insurers Are Catching the Innovation Wave

As the June 30 deadline approaches for this year’s SMA Innovation in Action Awards, I’m looking forward to seeing the innovative strides that insurers and solution providers have made in the past year. The market is changing so quickly that adaptability is key.

The SMA Innovation in Action Awards recognize insurers of all types and sizes who are rethinking, reimagining and reinventing the business of insurance. In recent years, we have recognized a number of traditional, established companies that are propelling themselves forward. They have combined the best strengths of our industry today with the best new ideas from insurtech and the digital world. And this convergence of the old and the new is the true path to success.

See also: Key Trends in Innovation (Parts 4, 5)  

Our winners have showcased this type of mindset by blending their existing projects and goals with very targeted uses of insurtech, emerging technologies and new data sources.

  • Experiment with new technology and customer experiences. John Hancock’s Vitality Program (2016 winner) engages policyholders through gamification and personalized guidance to increase their healthy activities, like exercise and annual physicals. Policyholders can report data online or through a free wearable fitness tracker. In the next phase of this project, John Hancock has expanded the customer engagement model to now provide discounts on healthy foods from participating stores. Each time the policyholder buys a healthy food, the discount and brand appear on the checkout receipt, reinforcing John Hancock’s role as their partner in healthy living. In addition to the creative application of emerging technologies, John Hancock is shifting from a transactional relationship with their customers to one based on value-added services.
  • Engage with emerging technologies. Texas Mutual (2016 winner) tackled a loss-prevention challenge, engaging workers to learn and follow onsite safety procedures by creating virtual reality scenarios to train construction workers. Texas Mutual’s Safety in a Box app was designed for easily accessible, familiar technology: the user’s mobile phone with a free cardboard viewer. Texas Mutual also distributed viewers at construction industry conferences and filmed in both English and Spanish to reach a broader audience.
  • Incubate innovation. Incubating Haven Life (2015 winner) internally allowed MassMutual to test a new business model: selling life insurance completely online in about 20 minutes. Underwriting Haven Life’s policies relies on external data fed through proprietary algorithms, reducing the time and complexity for the applicant.
  • Look at the big picture – but start small. Motorists (2016 winner) completed the first phase of its plan to achieve complete organizational transformation within 10 years. The ultimate goal is to operate as an “85-year-old startup” designed for innovation and collaboration, and the company redesigned a key workspace to foster this cultural shift. It built around cutting-edge technology to enable work to shift seamlessly across time zones and continents. This first step is intended to encourage more collaborative work styles to spread throughout the company, bringing Motorists closer to its vision.

One of the best parts of our awards program is to showcase how innovation is flourishing within our industry – and not just with greenfield insurers or those partnering with insurtech firms. Together, John Hancock, Texas Mutual, MassMutual and Motorists have more than 400 years of experience in writing insurance. They demonstrate how no company is ever too established to embrace change.

See also: 3 Ways to Leverage Digital Innovation  

For more information on the SMA Innovation in Action Awards and to create your own submission, visit www.strategymeetsaction.com/awardsSubmissions are due by June 30.

We will also be focusing on the power of convergence at our annual SMA Summit in September.