How to avoid being overwhelmed by insurance digitalization

In A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy the words “Don’t Panic” are famously printed on the cover of the novel’s titular encyclopedia. Author Douglas Adams later said this was because it was the best advice he could think of for humanity.

It’s good advice. Particularly for the insurance industry; a complex web of carriers, TPAs, underwriters, adjusters, bankers, actuaries, and occasionally even meteorologists. It’s an old-guard industry founded on continuity and stability, taking the long view through calamity.

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Cars sit piled up on the side of the road in the Rockaway area of New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012. Atlantic superstorm Sandy may cut U.S. economic growth as it keeps millions of employees away from work and shuts businesses from restaurants to refineries in one of the nation’s most populated and productive regions. Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Today the industry is grappling with historic change as the world it insures is becoming less predictible, spurred by disruptive technologies. In insurance we must recognize that the technology dam has burst. The revolution we have heard about for so long at panels is here.

The vast majority of carrier executives understand digital is of fundamental importance and that if they are going to stay current and lead their firms to success they have to make smart, strategic decisions about how to implement new technology.

But, even as they recognize the importance, there remains a lot of confusion and fear. Executives feel they don’t always have enough information to make decisions confidently. They’re not sure how to evaluate new opportunities. Without enough time or resources to properly get up to speed, many are overwhelmed by the scope of the oncoming digital transformation.

But here’s where we need to take a page from Douglas Adams and not panic. Even though it may feel like the ground is moving underneath us and the next earthquake damage claims spike is around the corner, I would argue there is actually a lot more certainty than uncertainty.

Embracing new technology doesn’t have to feel overwhelming and intimidating. By simply deciding to get started, and choosing discrete parts of the business to address with targeted, impactful solutions, you will increase your comfort level and deliver real results with real bottom line impact.

We know that the bedrock of the insurance business is an effective, accurate, and agile claim intake process. We know that the old mentality of the claims process - spend as little as possible for an adequate outcome - is starting to change. We know that claims intake is increasingly an area where carriers are focusing major time, attention, and investment. In fact, according to a recent survey 87 percent of insurance carriers and TPAs said there is an ever increasing need to inject innovative and highly configurable services into the claims intake and dissemination process.

The claims process represents the first and most important touchpoint for carriers and their customers. And, when done properly, with responsive accuracy and agility, it lays the foundation for effective operations.

An efficient and accurate claims process is only possible if companies are using an effective, up-to-date rules engine that is able to reconfigure and adapt along with the changing situation on the ground, new data collection tools, and shifting consumer preferences. In the claims process, new technologies aren’t simply a “nice to have” but are fundamentally crucial. This is why when considering the overwhelming scope of the digital transformation of the insurance industry, the claims process is among the most strategic places to get started.

The insurance industry has achieved widespread consensus on the importance of investing in and being reading for the coming digital transformation. Now, it’s time to act. Don’t let yourself succumb to decision paralysis. Don’t panic. Start with one area to achieve the most impact. Consider the improvements and savings that can be reaped from injecting innovation into the claims process. Take a deep breath and get started.

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