Data brings competitive edge to insurance

Insurers understand all too well the value of managing data and extracting meaningful insights from it. But as the number of data points continue to grow exponentially thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, and social media platforms, those who are best able to leverage a digital-centric approach to derive business insights accurately and timely while assessing risk, will be the ones strongly positioned for success in a modern business environment.

As touch points expand by the day, relying on only a contact centre, email address, and website to deal with customer engagement is no longer sufficient. Instead, attention now turns to how best to analyse unstructured data generated through social media, chat bots, mobile messaging, and the like. Whether it is a Facebook mail, a WhatsApp instant message, a Twitter direct message, or data received from an IoT device at the edge, insurers must better track, manage, and analyse data at each of these points.

This has seen the shift towards leveraging the high performance computing capabilities of the cloud to analyse data at scale. Using this environment offers an insurer the opportunity to explore emerging technologies which help to further drive real-time analysis of data beyond the capabilities provided by on-premise systems.

Making data real

Microsoft highlighted several common use cases for machine learning and predictive analytics. These include improved risk analysis and recommendations to improve processes; improved customer retention and acquisition by gaining a better understanding of their behaviour patterns; and identifying fraudulent claims through data mining.

The opportunity to derive more sophisticated insights also brings with it the potential to monetise data in ways previously unimagined. Data provides insurers with a better mechanism to develop more agile solutions enabling them to compete dynamically with technology-driven insurtechs. Having access to integrated customer data from all their engagement points and using cloud-based analytical capabilities, is introducing innovative ways of developing more bespoke solutions and even optimising existing ones to better cater for modern customer requirements.

Analytics can now span all insurance functions to deliver a more sophisticated way of valuing data that extends through marketing, underwriting, claims management, and the customer experience. Higher demands on insurers (thanks in part to more sophisticated, digital-savvy customers) and a volatile global economy conspire to force a reinvention of traditional insurance processes. Central to this is better analysing data.

Underwriting and claims enhanced

One of the ways to reduce costs and deliver better value to the customer, is to refine the underwriting and claims management process. By linking to cloud-based environments capable of delivering digital process automation, robotic process automation, and artificial intelligence, an insurer can introduce intelligent automation to process-heavy functions to significantly improve efficiencies and deliver straight through processing.

Take for example our recent partnership with HealthCloud. The two organisations are providing insurers with a solution that intelligently automates the insurance underwriting process by securely integrating health data and medical records to assess the risk of onboarding individual customers. By integrating the data and injecting it with artificial intelligence (AI) which is built by using the human insights of underwriters, we can automate the decision-making process as far as possible.

This builds on our partnership with Astute Financial Services to deliver a fully automated intelligent claims processing solution. It uses AI modelling of insurance expert decision-makers to enable claims to be processed in real-time while providing maximum risk oversight.

Ultimately AI and machine learning combine to deliver a more intelligent view of data to the insurer. But more than that, it provides the ability to further automate processes in the organisation based on insights that were previously difficult to obtain. Viewing big data in more sophisticated ways thanks to these innovations empowers insurers with real-time capabilities they would have lacked with traditional, on-premise solutions. The new digital and inter-connected world makes data an invaluable commodity for the insurer that embraces cloud solutions to inject fresh insights into traditional approaches.

SilverBridge, HealthCloud deliver AI-driven health insights for underwriting

SilverBridge and HealthCloud have partnered to provide insurers with a solution that intelligently automates the insurance underwriting process by securely integrating health data and medical records to assess the risk of onboarding individual customers. This transforms the traditionally resource-intensive and time consuming underwriting process into a real-time customer experience.

“Healthcare data is a vital source to help underwriters make correct decisions on the risk and rating structure of individual clients. However, this information is typically spread across a variety of databases from external sources. Obtaining the information considerably slows down the process. And once collated, experts must still consider the data and perform a risk assessment,” says Patrick Ashton, Managing Executive at SilverBridge.

As the data is usually provided by clients themselves in medical questionnaires or accessed from multiple external datasets, it becomes a manual process for underwriters to allocate dedicated human resources to physically view all the information and then make the required underwriting decisions. In response to this need for external data, many insurers create their own integrations or databases that extract data from the likes of Home Affairs to verify a person’s identity and other relevant information to ascertain the risk of onboarding.

The partnership between SilverBridge and HealthCloud facilitates a secure health data exchange whereby patient data is collected from healthcare organisations, medical practices, pharmacies, laboratories, clinics, healthcare providers, and diagnostic and wearable devices, and presented to the insurer as a single data score with all available health parameters populated.

“Essentially, all this data is aggregated into a weighted single score which not only speeds up but also unlocks efficiencies in the process. In turn, SilverBridge injects sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms, comprising the human insights of the underwriters, to automate the decision-making process as far as possible. This integrated solution alleviates much of the effort of having dedicated, senior individuals manage these onboarding processes manually.”

Following the recent partnership with Astute, which provides SilverBridge with valuable fraud risk scoring metrics, the health data and scoring provided by HealthCloud delivers a rich source of information to further automate and enhance business decisions on whether to approve policies, claims, and changes in cover. Ultimately, this provides SilverBridge with a complete 360-degree view of an individual customer’s risk profile.

HealthCloud provides a real-time overview of an individual’s medical history, including data for the past five to ten years. As such, the partnership creates proper automation in the underwriting process – especially important when it comes to both customer experience and risk management. New individual policy applications which would ordinarily require the likes of medical questionnaires, health screening, and blood tests that could take weeks to complete, can now happen in real-time thanks to the securely available and integrated health data.

”The rich data capabilities, intelligent algorithms, and secure real-time methodology that our platform offers, means that insurers now have access to a universe of health and medical record information that they would previously have found very difficult to access. Our collaboration with SilverBridge will offer the insurance industry immense value as the traditional processes are inefficient, costly and inaccurate. We aim to significantly disrupt this,” says Simon Spurr, Chief Executive Officer at HealthCloud.

A customer can therefore provide consent to the insurer as part of the onboarding process and the organisation will then be able to customise the underwriting decision in real-time based on how healthy (or unhealthy) that individual is.

“This is going to be a game-changer especially when it comes to disability cover. Instead of sending the policyholder every few months to be re-assessed, the HealthCloud data can provide insight as to whether the individual has been going for frequent medical check-ups, has been taking their chronic medication, etc. With SilverBridge, the information can be further enhanced to determine whether the individual’s condition is worsening or improving when comparing to previous periods,” says Ashton.

As the data is extremely sensitive in nature, the system relies on the scoring results provided by HealthCloud algorithms, with additional specific parameters provided, which enable decision-making but does not require data storage. The solution centres on injecting a level of AI decisioning into the process and creating full automation in a traditionally extremely manual process. By combining the respective expertise of SilverBridge and HealthCloud, a more precise understanding of an individual can be developed, and the intelligence built into the solution can show how healthy or unhealthy an individual is. The customer experience is dramatically improved as onerous questionnaires and tests are simply no longer required for decision-making.

HealthCloud will improve the speed, quality, and cost of gathering patient-centric data and enable a digital underwriting model. Combined with the SilverBridge AI and automation expertise, insurers can garner real-time insights from multiple experts such as underwriters, compliance, legal etc. and effortlessly apply those views to all new applications or changes to existing cover.

“This is a non-invasive and seamless way for insurers to make informed decisions about individual customers. It takes what was an expensive, time-consuming process, that introduced significant risk to the insurer, and redefines the process to become both easier and more dynamic for all participants,” concludes Ashton.

About HealthCloud

Using sophisticated data standards with a secure, real-time health data exchange, HealthCloud provides universal health interoperability. This innovative platform is able to centralise consumer health and medical records contained in separate systems within one facility, thus solving the problem of fragmented consumer information. HealthCloud uses Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) and HL7 standards and specifications, both of which provide a framework for the exchange, integration, sharing and retrieval of electronic health information.

Liberty Kenya mitigates risk of lockdown with SilverBridge digitalisation project

Liberty Kenya partnered with SilverBridge Holdings to digitalise its paper-based onboarding process with the intention of improving the customer experience while delivering on the digital enablement of beneficiaries. The foresight of the insurer to modernise this business-critical process also enabled it to mitigate the business impact of the unforeseen COVID-19 lockdown conditions in the country.

A manual customer onboarding process tends to result in human errors that would slow down delivery time on loading policies. Furthermore, any mistakes on an application form or errors inputting the information required Liberty Kenya to embark on an extensive review process that would potentially delay the application.

The digitalisation of these processes had to be an extension of the existing administrative solution to empower advisors to engage with customers across a multi-channel environment for a seamless experience.

“SilverBridge has been a technology partner for Liberty Kenya for more than 12 years, so the decision to work with us on this exciting digitalisation project reinforced the value the organisation provided to Liberty Kenya. Our deep industry knowledge coupled with our understanding of the Liberty Kenya business proved invaluable on the project,” says Alma Joubert, Portfolio Manager at SilverBridge.

The implementation took a little over a year to complete with the new digital environment operational at the end of 2019. There was significant engagement between the SilverBridge and Liberty Kenya teams to ensure the success of the project.

“Liberty advisors were integrally involved in the digitalisation process working with the SilverBridge team to address the business-critical issues important to them that were identified by the previous manual process. This saw the advisors embracing the system in its entirety resulting in significantly improved customer experience and, ultimately, customer satisfaction. Policies can now be loaded virtually in real-time,” adds Joubert.

The resultant implementation has seen the customer onboarding process being reduced from three weeks due to the manual system to real-time. Due to virtually eliminating paper-based forms, Liberty Kenya has also been able to decrease the administrative expenses associated with onboarding by 50%.

“The digitalisation of the on-boarding process has been a game changer for Liberty Life Kenya and has positively transformed the advisor, customer, and employee experience in a significant way,” says Asman Mugambi, General Manager: Operations at Liberty Life Kenya.

Thanks to this new digital onboarding environment, the Liberty Kenya advisors were able to rapidly adopt and continue with the sales engagements during the first several weeks of the lockdown, despite restrictions on physical interaction with customers.

“Policies can now be loaded virtually and in real-time. This digital enablement of its advisors means customer engagement can continue using a variety of platforms that mitigate the risk of any future lockdown conditions,” concludes Joubert.

To read more about the Liberty digitalisation project, access the full case study here

Intelligent automation in financial services

A Statista study conducted last year, revealed that 39% of the organisations surveyed indicated that they have already adopted intelligent automation (IA) at a functional level. This has likely increased significantly given the developments of recent months with the pandemic pressuring organisations to embrace a more digital approach to business. In financial services, IA has the potential to transform the way organisations operate internally and enhance customer engagement

IA is the bringing together of technologies such as digital process automation (DPA), robotic process automation (RPA), and artificial intelligence (AI) to focus on improving business processes. Whilst financial services companies have been embracing elements of automation for some time now, it is AI that is really attracting significant interest as businesses explore the potential to unlock value through improved customer service, efficiency, and risk management.

Leveraging AI

The business environment is continually changing and adapting to market requirements. But the rate at which this has been happening in recent months has increased significantly. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently remarked that two years’ worth of digital transformation have taken place within two months. This has resulted in organisations having to move away from their reliance on manual processes and turn their attention to how best to leverage automation. Over the years, we have seen the adoption of RPA assist organisations to better manage high volume transaction processes. But while this automation can replace certain human-driven functions, there is little to no intelligence behind the solution.

This is where IA comes in. The ability to replicate human intelligence and, more specifically expert decision-making, allows traditional automated processes, which still require human intervention, to be fully automated – whilst retaining the insight of the best human decision-makers in the business. By adopting proper intelligent automation, financial organisations will be able to handle most transactions automatically – with only the most complex queries requiring any human intervention.

AI can provide the financial services organisation the ability to automate the decision-making process. However, by combining AI with complementary technologies, IA delivers end-to-end business process automation that incorporates human decisioning. Think of it as the virtualising and scaling of human intelligence throughout the business.

Delivering value

Furthermore, the ability of machines to work through high volumes of data at speeds not possible for human operators brings a distinct competitive advantage. When this is coupled with the ability to make the same decisions as a human expert, yet more consistently and efficiently, the opportunities for, and value to, the insurer are limitless. For example, the process an advisor would have taken to assess a claim, approve, and make payment, can now be fully automated in real-time. This frees up employees to focus on other strategic deliverables or spend more time on the most complex of claims requiring forensic review.

The recent partnership with Astute Financial Services Exchange has seen SilverBridge deliver a fully automated intelligent claims processing solution to the market. The solution incorporates industry risk scoring metrics, internal business rules, and intelligent decisioning to assist insurers with straight-through-processing (STP) of claims.

When it comes to the financial services industry, of critical importance are both compliance and regulatory adherence. All decision-making steps in a virtualised intelligent process are transparent and auditable. This is where the concept of explainable AI is vital. As example, SilverBridge uses the explainability of the AI to expose the thought processes and parameters considered in any decision making process which can be audited at any point in time. This is a critical component in a highly regulated environment such as insurance and gives executives the assurance that the right decisions are being made consistently within their operations.

Ultimately, IA delivers business value to insurers through improved operational efficiency and risk management. But perhaps more critically, it also assists the insurer to deliver a far improved customer experience to their clients and provides these companies with the means to free up key people to focus on more strategic objectives. Injecting automated decisioning at speed and scale can unlock more business value while continually delivering more innovative ways of driving customer engagement.