The Evolution of Innovation
The future of claims industry technology
By Russ Carroll
During the last 25 years, the technology revolution has impacted practically everything we do. From the 1980s to present day, change has been constant and, at times, dizzying. With constant and immediate accessibility today, we continue to harness technology, shaping every aspect of life. As the claims vertical evolves, technology has the power to transform and impact our industry as well. In some ways it already has, but there are indeed more opportunities.
As Amazon evolved to conquer the online retail world, it reshaped how people shop on-demand. Others, like Uber and Airbnb, have impacted everything from transportation to travel. These disruptors have taught us lessons about the positive impact of change and the value of embracing technology as it applies to the claims process, customer service, and the future. So what role can technology play as our industry moves forward?
From Innovation to Disruption
Like every other industry, the claims vertical is ready for innovation—perhaps even disruption. Voices that are reluctant to change may remain, but if the opportunity to access technology opens the door for improved service and reliability, it’s certainly worth exploring.
We’ve seen examples of innovation in insurance claims inspections via the introduction of drones, robotics, and 3D modeling, and the industry has demonstrated a willingness to not only investigate technology advancements, but also to understand the expanded benefits. Like Uber, our industry should explore ways to take advantage of the “gig” economy. For example, by taking advantage of on-demand networks and artificial intelligence technology, we can operate in real time and see contractors working in different locations or cities. That allows us to provide immediate information and increase the speed of claims processes for carriers.
Though carriers, customers, and claims professionals are still adapting to technology, the revolution began cementing in customer acquisition years ago. Spending millions every year as top advertisers, insurance carriers demonstrate how they embrace new technology as they compete for customers, making technology a key selling point in their advertising. They utilize technology in a multitude of ways to attract and retain customers through transformative technology, making it easier to sign up, file, and settle claims faster than ever before. Additionally, armed with mobile device-driven “tools” and platforms, carriers seek to make policyholders’ lives better and offer solutions faster when it is needed the most.
Carriers have traditionally relied on claims professionals to manage and plan claims on their own, requiring an investment of time and skill. Often a near-impossible task, they get the job done. As the industry moves forward and introduces new ways to improve service, it is clear that technology will be central to that process.
The constant cycle of innovation requires us to continue asking important questions: How can we improve the service process? How can we take advantage of the technology and innovation at our fingertips to refine the claims process? In what ways can we increase customer satisfaction and ultimately increase profits for carriers? How can we settle claims more efficiently and effectively in half the time compared to the way it has always been done? What if the entire claims vertical—claims professionals, contractors, experts, technology solution providers, settlement, finance—could exist in a live, virtual ecosystem that enabled same-day settlement of property claims? And what if artificial intelligence could also be harnessed at some point to converge with 3D mapping, oblique imagery, and human input in the virtual network to provide two-way, real-time data to help perfect the aerial imagery problem and eliminate wasteful overspending when it comes time to settle claims?
When it comes to dramatic change like this, resistance is to be expected. Perhaps it is simply because the way we have always done things has worked for so long. Or maybe the insurance industry is too large and complex to adapt quickly with the rapidly evolving changes in technology we are seeing today. It could also be that in an industry where being risk averse is part of the job description, trust in new technology has not yet been earned. I think, over time, we have to move beyond that attitude.
Lessons From Others
To better understand change, it is worth looking back at those who faced challenges even as they embraced technology. Some industries found the shift from brick and mortar to the online environment littered with stumbling blocks. Even retail experienced an adjustment phase initially when online payment processing was brand new and needed to be refined with added security measures to gain consumer confidence. In recent years, banking was a bit slower to evolve for largely similar reasons. Consumer hesitation was a major factor in terms of online security, which remains an issue as digital security still haunts the entire technology universe. But today, more people are more accustomed to making bank deposits or transfers via their mobile phones while riding the subway to work, and, for the most part, it seems that security has improved to a point that consumers’ fears and concerns have been alleviated.
Given both the investment of interconnected industries around us and the pace of technology itself, it is worth exploring and understanding. Our customers expect us to use technology in today’s environment of smart houses, self-driving cars, and proliferating artificial intelligence, and we should feel compelled to embrace it to avoid being left behind. Instead of listing the reasons why we cannot do something, let’s examine the reasons why we should. Innovation has worked well for other industries; it can benefit ours, too.