COVID-19 One Year Later: The Digital Transformation of Insurance
Samir Gulati | March 04, 2021
When the first outbreaks of the coronavirus were reported in the U.S. more than one year ago, commerce stalled for businesses and consumers alike. Customers and employees sequestered themselves in their homes with no way of knowing how long isolation would last or how to carry on regular business practices amidst a seemingly endemic virus.
The shift to this way of life challenged the insurance industry, particularly warranty and property and casualty providers, as they often require in-person contact with customers in the field. COVID-19 has poised both obstacles and opportunities for insurance businesses as they optimize their processes through digital transformation to maintain service quality and safety.
Navigating the new normal
By nature of the circumstances, insurance providers must offer support to customers during times of personal stress. Simultaneously, they have to ensure that they are complying with all company and regulatory policies when filing a claim to ensure accuracy and prevent fraud. Amidst COVID-19, adjudicators who require in-person visits to homes or accident sites are burdened with navigating safety precautions and customer preferences along with concern for their personal safety. While providing health and safety guidelines to customers about an upcoming visit reflects favorably on the brand and protects both the customer and the adjuster, eliminating the need for in-person interactions is ideal.
Digital solutions have been quick to keep pace with the demand for remote communication over the past year and insurtech tools are no different. The increased adoption of digital tools has allowed insurance providers to conduct remote visits while maintaining the quality of service. Self-service customer portals allow a modernized and user-friendly claims process where policyholders have the autonomy to upload pictures, videos and descriptions related to claims and communicate in real time with adjusters from the safety of their homes. The practice of utilizing customer engagement tools for remote visits and virtual claims will no doubt continue after coronavirus cases decline as these platforms broaden the value of mobile workforce management solutions by streamlining claims processing and delivering quality service quickly. Customers will not want to revert to traditional service workflows that aren’t as efficient, and their expectation for digital solutions will only grow.
Leveraging digital tools
Technological solutions have helped the insurance industry tackle COVID-19 by quelling operational hurdles and allowing for remote inspections and virtual claims processing. However, current digital tools for field service professionals in insurance have also enhanced the quality of these visits thanks to the merging of live and virtual service. Digital tools provide the seamless integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities that can make systems smarter. AI has the ability to analyze the virtual claim and automatically generate customer service history and policy specifications so that, if adjusters do need to conduct an in-person visit, they are well equipped with the customer’s personal profile and claim details. This process provides continuity in the service experience, making the minimal personal customer interactions during the pandemic more impactful. In fact, companies who have implemented these types of field service solutions, like AIG and Safeware, have experienced a 27% increase in net promoter scores and a 30% increase in customer satisfaction ratings.
Alternatively, when adjusters can review claims remotely, they are now equipped with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) tools to help get the job done. New integrated applications and technology can provide AR and VR capabilities to claim processing by allowing adjusters to remotely assess damage. For example, streem allows providers to annotate live video, take measurements remotely and drop pins and pointers into the customer’s screen. These capabilities remove the need for site visits that, although prompted by the pandemic, will continue far into the future. In fact, one of the biggest growth areas for AR will be in field services, which includes adjudication and warranty assessors. These AR tools facilitate remote consulting and service with spatial understanding, allowing customers to create a detailed 3D picture of the damage outlined in their claims.
Continuing COVID-19 practices
Customers remain enthusiastic about service that comes to them, leaving field service investments intact within the insurance business. However, the safety of customers and adjusters has led to the normalization of remote inspections. The technology that has supported this transition, including consumer portals and AR/VR-assisted communication platforms, has proven that these practices are effective. Reducing the frequency of on-site visits while maintaining the quality of service cuts costs for companies and saves customers’ time. Digital transformation will propel the insurance industry to a higher level of technological integration and customer service long after COVID-19.
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The Email Chat is a regular feature of the ITA Pro magazine and website. We send a series of questions to an insurance IT leader in search of thought-provoking responses on important issues facing the insurance industry.
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