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Insurance Claims At Speed Of Technology

Some technologies that are making waves in the insurance claims process are discussed below.

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What does an insurance policy really mean to an average individual? A hedge against loss of property, protection for your family in case of the death of an earning member or something to help you tide over bad times? An insurance policy can mean all of the above things and more. However, for an average individual, an insurance policy can serve its purpose effectively only when the insurance claim is settled in an efficient and timely manner. After all, what is the point of buying an insurance policy if the money from that policy is not available to you at a time when you need it the most? When an insurance company receives a claim, it needs to first investigate the veracity of the claim and then credit the claim amount. This can be a long and tedious process as it involves multiple steps that include reviewing the claim, investigation, subsequent adjustments (if required) and remittance/denial of claim. The tedium of this process can be a harrowing experience for the insured who is only looking to claim his money. In this regard, insurance companies can employ new technologies to make the claims process simple, holistic and more effective. 

Some technologies that are making waves in the insurance claims process are discussed below.

Image Recognition: It is said that an image can convey a thousand emotions and the interpretation of each image is left to the perception of the viewer. All this is well and good if you are talking about the “Mona Lisa”. However, in insurance claims processing, the image of the loss or disaster needs to be completely accurate with no room for multiple interpretations. The very first step in claims processing is to assess the damage. Miniature cameras can be effectively used by customers to self-report insurance claims. So far, the challenge has not been in taking pictures but in assessing these images. However, technology is now enabling real-time image recognition in a cheaper and effective manner. Tractable, AI specialists in accident and disaster recovery, has used a database of more than 130 million images of wrecked cars to train their systems to recognize the type of damage a vehicle has sustained. This not only gives the insurer a clear picture of the extent of damage but also helps to predict the likely cost of repair.  With this, a customer can take control of the claims process by providing verifiable images to the insurer in a quick and efficient manner. For example, last year, following the destructive Kerala floods, insurers witnessed a surge in home insurance claims. As applications for relief from devastated regions mounted, a leading general insurance company,  deployed a unique video conversation feature. This allowed the firm to better understand the damage and consequently expedite claims processing. Policy holders went on a two-way video chat to show the extent of damage to the surveyor.

The result: Claims got processed in three days from over two weeks’ time taken earlier. 

Drones: Until a few years back, drones were considered the next “cool” thing. I mean, the idea of a camera hovering above our heads, capturing any and every movement, can be both worrisome and interesting. Over the last few years, with hardware and technology becoming cheaper, drones with compact high-resolution cameras have now become relatively more affordable.
Consequently, insurance companies, particularly in the US, are deploying them to revolutionize claims handling and to give their customers a better experience when they most need support.  Drones enable companies to better assess the damage caused, especially in areas that are inaccessible or harmful. This could be areas hit by a natural disaster which makes them temporarily inaccessible to people or possibly destruction to a large tract of agricultural land that might be challenging to inspect manually. Drones can bring in a lot of efficiencies in the claims process in addition to lowering the incidence of fraudulent claims. However, in India, there are significant roadblocks to the civilian use of drones and no insurance company has yet applied to the DGCA for the usage of drones. 

Chat Bots: Machines and robots that can talk and walk like humans have been the face of “sci-fi” for the longest time. However, advance in technology and artificial intelligence have ensured that these things are no longer just sci-fi. Chatbots, a software that has the capacity to conduct human-like conversations, are changing the way companies interact with their customers.  A study by Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed by chatbots. By becoming the primary point of contact, chatbots can bring in a great deal of efficiency and cost savings to the claims management process. Insurers can automate the initial reporting process by using technology to ensure that a personalised and user-friendly, round the clock service is available to customers.  Chatbots can quickly capture details of a customer and their claim, collecting important data, correcting mistakes and funnelling a claimant into the next stage of the process. For example, another leading insurance company in India is using bots to answer queries on claim status and policy copy requests. It has launched a self-claim settlement tool for motor vehicle claims, up to a certain monetary limit. Chatbots can also learn from their interactions with customers and accordingly interact with the respective customer. This can be potent

It is said that technology can be a great leveller as it ensures that improved products and services are available to society at large. The insurance industry can definitely leverage advancements in technology for the benefit of its customers.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

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Anand Prabhudesai

The author is Co-Founder, Turtlemint

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