Insurers accelerate deployment of digital collaboration, video, chatbots

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It may not be much of a surprise to hear that insurers are investing more in technologies that facilitate remote processing and communication, but the confirmations are starting to roll in.

Celent's "Property/Casualty Insurers Weigh in on Emerging Technologies" report, authored by Karlyn Carnahan, head of P&C for North America for the analyst firm, finds four in 10 insurers planning to accelerate deployment of collaboration tools, a quarter ramping up video communications, 23% moving forward faster with consumer messaging and 20% doing so with chatbots and virtual assistants.

The use of these technologies isn't just happening in the enterprise, Carnahan notes; they are making their ways into key customer-service channels. "Whether using video for inspections, or Zoom for court-litigated claims, insurers were rapidly faced with the need to launch and implement new technologies seamlessly and quickly," she writes.

Thirty-five insurers were polled by Celent in July 2020, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic's upheaval of businesses of all kinds. Carnahan identified four trends shifting insurance operations: Cost challenges and consolidation, digital consumers, digital competitors, and resource constraints.

"The ability for insurance companies to determine which emerging technologies are gaining adoption is a significant step in budget decisions," she writes. "In the same way that external industry and internal company issues influence your business strategy, technology initiative prioritization is also impacted by business strategy and the external competitor and customer market."

By insurer size, companies with premium volume greater than $5 billion tended to agree that emerging technologies can help them cut costs and make employees more productive, but were skeptical of their value in making it easier to do business. These companies tended to be more heavily invested in analutics and decisioning, but getting the most value from customer experience-focused technologies. They also were heavy users of robotic process automation, AI and machine learning.

Insurers below $500 million in premium were likely to have mobility or location-awareness tools in place, though these smaller companies are planing more deployments. They also aren't using advanced fraud analytics, but 15% report getting value from robotic process automation.

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