Getting to Know: Sean Allen
Xchanging Insurance Services’ vice president, North America, shines a light on innovation in his organization, which handles $50 billion in premium and claims transactions each year.
By Eric Gilkey
On his company’s beginnings and background: “Xchanging has been in business for the last 15 years, and it began as a partnership with Lloyd’s in which we took them through a transformation process of moving primarily from a paper claims and premium processing company to a company that operates just north of 95 percent electronically today. We work with 300 insurance customers in over 42 countries, and our insurance unit is the largest in the company, featuring 2,500 insurance specialists among our 7,000 employees. We’re focused on expanding our expertise in the insurance space into the U.S. market.”
On the notion of robotic processing: “We started working on robotic processing just over a year ago when we partnered with Blue Prism, which provides the software. Today we have over 14 processes specifically within the insurance space itself that have been automated—anywhere from premium processing to claims processing. We’re doing it with a virtual workforce of 27.
“The robots are server based, so it’s all scripted behind the scenes—they are essentially virtual people that sit on a server. The benefit is that they run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A good way to think of it is a really glorified macro within Excel, but they do a lot more than that. They can mimic humans to access a system, for instance.”
On how robots work in the company: “Let’s say we have to get access to vehicle driver records for an auto claim, which come from disparate systems. A robot can log into those systems, find the information, and pull it into the claims file. When you’re handling 120,000 transactions a month like we are, the 30 percent average cost savings per process that comes from faster turnaround times and higher quality can be very significant.”
On the benefits of a virtual workforce: “The benefit to customers is that they get higher-quality results, and they receive the same type of service every time since they’re not relying on a claims professional’s training or education—a robot’s ‘knowledge’ comes in the form of a program and only needs to be written once. Customers still talk to claims professionals, but some of the back-end processing is automated. It’s quicker, reduces the amount of fraud, improves the shelf life of the claim, and reduces costs within the process itself. Within fraud, for example, the robots can check multiple database and policy systems, enabling them to cross-reference behind the scenes to detect things like fraud rings.”
On the power of robots: “One myth I’d like to dispel about our robots is that they are not the silver bullet for changing any one process 100 percent. If you’re looking at reducing costs, it’s not simply robotics that will improve that. It’s a combination of process re-engineering, process flow, the underpinning technology from the system itself, along with robots. A lot of people think putting a robotic process in place means they are going to get significant savings and quality, but it involves a lot of other things. However, as a provider and processer, robotics is something that really is becoming table stakes.”