Electronic Chat with Ron Glozman
Laura Mazzuca Toops | November 18, 2019
Ron Glozman is the founder of Chisel AI, an artificial intelligence solution for the global insurance industry which uses natural language processing and named entity recognition to extract data from complex documents. Chisel is a past cohort member of The Next 36, CDL at the Rotman School of Management, and the Ryerson DMZ, and was recently funded by a leading Silicon Valley venture firm.
How did you first get into the insurance industry?
Like many people working in insurance today, I stumbled into the industry. While I was attending university, I was confronted with a pile of reading for a university literature class, so I developed an AI program that read like a human – just 400 times faster. The app was so popular, all my friends wanted to use it, so I published it on the Google App Store and within months it was a top app with downloads across 33 countries and 44 universities. Encouraged by the demand, I presented the capabilities of the app at a conference hosted by Canada’s largest bank. After the demo, a well-known insurance carrier approached me to use the app to read insurance documents. That was the pivotal movement, when the program evolved into Chisel AI, a natural language processing platform for commercial insurance to automate and streamline mundane, time-consuming administrative tasks like policy checking.
What has been your vision – your overall strategy – for making Chisel the company it is today?
My vision for Chisel AI is to help people work smart and enrich their lives. In speaking with underwriters, I often hear how they arrive early, stay late, and when they get home at night, they’re exhausted from the high volume of routine, repetitive, manual tasks they have to get through. They often miss their kids’ ballet and baseball games as they are drowning in tedious, time-consuming manual tasks like re-keying data into various systems, pushing paper from one desk to another, waiting for signatures, etc. It’s our mandate to help them digitize these tasks so they can focus on more meaningful work that enables them to work smart to achieve a better work/life balance and gain a healthier sense of fulfillment from their work.
Is there any significance to the name “Chisel”?
Yes, for sure. The name Chisel AI is derived from the fundamental capability that our solution delivers to insurance commercial carriers, brokers and reinsurers, enabling them to “chisel” away at the millions of data points and unstructured insurance documents sitting in their data stores and data lakes to gain access to trapped business insights to better assess risk and price. You might also say we’re helping the industry chisel away at longstanding inefficiencies in the insurance back office that have impeded growth and enabling brokers and carriers to sharpen their competitive edge.
What do you predict will be the biggest insurtech trend affecting the commercial insurance industry over the next few years?
Customer experience will be at the forefront and everything will be about winning the client on experience rather than price. Therefore, AI-based technologies will continue to be very disruptive to the commercial insurance industry, as insurers identify business cases relating to customer-centricity. Quite frankly, it’s still early days when it comes to AI adoption, so over the next five years, it’s my prediction that we will see more mainstream adoption and deployment of AI-powered applications that address specific use cases. We will also see the fast followers and laggards, who have been sitting on the sidelines waiting to see the preliminary results of AI, spring into action, though for the real laggards, it might be too late to gain any ground.
How can insurance companies use insurtech to deliver a better customer experience and differentiate in today’s competitive environment?
One way that insurtech can help insurers gain competitive advantage is by enabling them to glean key insights from the mountains of data they are collecting and storing. We recently conducted a poll to examine how early adopters are using artificial intelligence and we found that real-time data extraction was the primary use case. If we take a look at a specific use case like Application Intake, brokers are completing long questionnaires and providing carriers with enormous amounts of data during the submission process. However, carriers are only leveraging the data from 10 to 15 questions to make decisions. They are only using 10% of the data. Now imagine if, by using AI, carriers could have real-time access to 200 to 500 data points in seconds to make more informed risk and pricing decisions based on 30% to 50% more data.
Responding to and distributing quotes faster and delivering accurate, precise policies to brokers will differentiate insurers as they will become the “carrier of choice” with their distributors. Insurtech has the power to significantly boost operational efficiencies, allow carriers and brokers to do more with the same headcount, and deliver a better customer experience.
When you’re not working, what do you enjoy doing outside of the office? Any special hobbies or activities?
Globetrotting is a passion of mine. I love travelling to new countries and cities. This year I had the opportunity to spend some time in London, Portugal, Russia and Switzerland. I also love snowboarding – so much so that I am a snowboarding instructor.
Do you see a connection between Artificial Intelligence and the staffing needs of insurance brokers and carriers?
Yes, I see a direct connection. As the aging workforce leaves the industry and insurers need to attract new talent, the deployment of AI and the digital transformation of age-old processes will increase the attractiveness of insurance companies among the next generation of workers who are seeking careers at progressive companies that can provide them with a variety of new opportunities, new challenges and continuous learning opportunities.
Generation Z, which makes up 32% of the global population, are digital natives. These individuals have never known a non-digital world. They will be attracted to organizations that have a digital-first mindset. They place a high value on technology and innovation.
Insurance brokers, carriers, and reinsurers who embrace “digital” insurance and leverage cutting-edge technologies like AI will increase their odds of attracting new talent compared to insurers who continue to use legacy systems and traditional manual processes.
Your team is doing some interesting work with Zurich. What can you tell us about these projects?
Well, we won Gold at the 2019 Zurich Innovation World Championship, which was the catalyst for us partnering with Zurich on five projects in two countries. We are working closely with them to explore all the possibilities for where Chisel AI can be integrated into their value chain. The projects to date include our Policy Check and Submission Triage or Application Intake applications – all powered by our AI and Natural Language Processing platform. Both solutions will enable Zurich to achieve strong business outcomes for their brokers and distributors and overall deliver a superior customer experience by providing accurate policies faster.
What role does culture play in the success of technology adoption like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, blockchain?
Culture is a critical element of organizational change management. It’s the key to ensuring that employees are aligned to deliver value to all communities - policyholders, brokers, carriers, distributors, shareholders, and their peers. Creating a vision that helps direct the change and rally teams around a common goal is a fundamental step to the successful deployment of new systems and technologies. With the right culture, AI presents an incredible opportunity for insurance carriers, brokers and agents to increase productivity, efficiency, and workplace satisfaction.
There is a lot of speculation that Artificial Intelligence in the insurance industry will result in job losses. Do you support this claim or how do you feel AI will affect staffing?
No. I believe AI will augment jobs, not displace them. AI increases the value of human judgement. AI is good at making predictions; not so good at judgment. Therefore, AI will create more opportunities for human judgement and creative thinking. Let’s not forget, AI has zero judgment, so humans will always need to be in the decision loop. Natural language processing and machine learning platforms require humans to support the continuous learning effect.
For example, today underwriters are focused on manually reading and extracting data points from unstructured insurance documents and then rekeying the data into multiple systems. What if AI could automatically extract the data needed from policies, binders, quotes, applications, endorsements, statements of value, etc. -- faster than a human, with greater accuracy -- and populate core systems with the data? This would allow human knowledge workers to focus more on judgement-related work like making risk and pricing decisions, and nurturing broker relationships. I strongly feel that AI gives knowledge workers the opportunity to focus on more strategic, meaningful and rewarding work.
Any words of wisdom that you would like to share with our readers who are considering deploying AI as part of their underwriting practice?
Define the business case first and include business leaders in all the discussions as well as the vendor selection. Selecting technology for technology’s sake is not the best approach. Insurers need to identify the best alignment with their overall corporate and business objectives first, before engaging technology vendors. Also, develop a business case that articulates the success criteria so it’s clear how you will evaluate, select and roll out an AI-powered solution.
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