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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone, from small businesses to large corporations and from families to individuals. They have all experienced the repercussions of thpandemic and the role of insurance ranging from business to health and life insurance. 

Insurance companies aralso experiencing dramatic disruption trying to maintain operations with employees working from home and customers increasing their online interactions 

I sat down with our very own Will Sellenraad, Insurance Principal, to understand the impact of the pandemic on the insurance industry.  

1) How do you see COVID-19 affecting insurance providers right now?  

From an operational perspective, the pandemic is what I call ‘the great equalizer’. Every insurance company was at a different stage on their road to digital transformation. At one end of the spectrum, some insurance companies were in the very early stages of implementation. At the other end, some were in production and already deriving business benefits.   

COVID-19 was like a giant hammer that came down. Suddenly, insurance companies were told employees must work from home and they could no longer have face to face interaction with customers. It mandated that every insurance company had to depend on their digital transformation. For some, it was short-term disruption and their business continued in the COVID era. Others are quickly mobilizing to catch up. 

From a product perspective, insurance companies are now changing and altering their offerings to align with the new COVID-19. One example is insurance companies returning a percentage of premiums back to customers because the quarantine meant essential driving only. Another example is coverage for pandemic related loss of business and pandemic coverage for health and life insurance.     

2) Do you foresee any lasting effects on the insurance industry because of COVID-19?  

After this pandemic, people are going to continue interacting online via mobile and desktop as opposed to face-to-faceEmployees working from home was not the disaster some insurance executives envisioned and now they are embracing the sudden change. 

Insurance companies who weren’t prepared to immediately shift to digital operations are reviewing their strategic plans and priorities. Even if they’ve managed to adjust over the last few months, some may have lost customers and new business because their operations could not adapt to the new norm. 

3) Are insurance providers concerned with their customer data/information during this time?  

Security of their customer’s personal data will continue to be a big concernSince COVIDemail use to send documents is increasing. The COVID related email schemes are getting harder to differentiate from real ones. Scammers are illegally using company logos in phishing emails to snare the unsuspecting.  

Guided intelligence, predictive analytics, and AI should all be in a company’s strategic plan to fight fraud. These tools can ingest all sources of data such as social media to identify patterns of fraud. 

4) Do you have any advice about what these providers could be doing right now to combat the negative effects of COVID-19? 

The one piece of advice I would emphasize is focusing on your long-term strategic business requirements and not just tacticalTactical technology implementation is a start but a strategic plan with an implementation roadmap is better. Review your digital transformation initiatives and see if you need to change your priorities to address the new realities of COVID.  

Customers want immediate response time and outstanding customer service. Insurance companies cannot say ‘well, I’ll call you back later’ or leave the client on hold while they’re off searching for information that they can’t find.”  

5As someone who witnesses insurance companies at various stages of digital transformations, what are some ideas that can derive quick business benefits? 

As I said before, develop a strategic roadmap. It should include your long-term business requirements, technology, and implementation roadmap. Prioritize what processes to optimize with robotic process automation (RPA)Optimize the most complex process first because it will be a better model to propagate repeatable deployments. 

If you need a technology refresh, don’t buy the technology first. Most technologies are commodity. The most popular vendors’ prices are all within the same range and they will match each other on feature and function. Instead, take your complex process you optimized on paper. Share the new process with each of the technology vendors you are evaluating. Listen to how they would map their technology to your new process. It is a great exercise to learn which vendor and technology will bring you the most value.  

6)  RPA is a technology that most providers could probably start using right now, how can they use it? 

Say you have a customer on the phone, and they want to add a car to their policyAn underwriter may have 10 different applications minimized on their desktop as they jump between different applications to find information, making notes on a pad of paper, and talking to the customer at the same time. Customers can sense this disorganization. 

RPA chatbots can answer the phone and intelligently route the call to the appropriate underwriter or claim adjuster. RPA bots can gather all the relevant information and present it to the worker in a graphical or textual summary to immediately respond to a customer request.  

7What do you think this pandemic has taught insurance providers?  

Historically, insurance companies are conservative with the rate at which they adopt digital transformation initiatives. COVID really forced them out of their comfort zone and into radical and immediate change.    

The second lesson is insurance companies now realize they can do big, audacious things if they really set their mind to itInsurance companiecan look at new projects and say, we can do it, we now have the confidence that on short notice and in troubled times we can do great things, and they need to apply that mindset as part of their regular approach going forward.”  

In Summary  

COVID-19 convinced insurance companies that they can accelerate the adoption of new technologies. The traditional norm that all employees must work together in the same office will no longer be commonplaceEmployees can work remote and achieve the same, or more, productivity. 

Digital transformation requires a strategic long-term plan. You need to focus on your long-term business requirements and strategize. Implementing tactical technologies such as RPA is a start, but a strategic plan that includes an implementation roadmap is what you want to strive for when focusing on your digital initiatives 

Insurance companies will not only focus on strategizing and accelerating their digital transformation plans because of COVID, but they will also add more products that provide COVID-19 coverage. 

If you want to learn more about how digital transformations can be leveraged in insurance, watch our on-demand webinarHyperautomation for Insurance: Exceeding Customer Expectations with Robotic Process Automation