Is AI Part of Your Business Continuity Plan?

Artificial Intelligence - March 25 2020

The unprecedented events of the past few weeks have put a spotlight on business continuity. The recent uncertainty and rapid shift in our work and daily lives are a strong reminder that all companies need to have a business continuity plan in place, tested and ready to be deployed at a moment’s notice. Business continuity plans tend to include contingency efforts in the event of a natural disaster such as flooding and fire that prevent staff from entering a place of business, cyber attacks, an infrastructure outage or for more extreme cases a pandemic. As with any business continuity plan it needs to cover three critical elements: resilience, recovery and contingency.

Contingency is defined as the organization’s ability to establish a generalized capability and readiness to cope with whatever major incidents and disasters occur, including those that were not, and perhaps could not have been foreseen.

Every company hopes to never need to deploy their business continuity plan, but it's critical to have a plan at the ready. Over the years, as technology has evolved, it has provided businesses with the flexibility and scalability to have employees successfully work from home, hire remote employees and in some cases eliminate the need for bricks and mortar entirely (note: we transitioned our entire team to work from home a week ago and are using virtualization tools and practices we've put into place to keep our team productive and connected). Technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) are providing organizations with the means to conduct business like never before by automating and streamlining what were once extremely manual, mind-numbing, time-intensive and repetitive tasks.

Business continuity for manually driven, data intensive, paper-laden industries like insurance can be particularly challenging due to the lack of flexibility and the intrinsic inability to cope effectively with major incidents or disasters that require critical business functions to continue because they are so reliant on people. This is where AI comes in, augmenting your human workers with machines or “digital assistants” when you – and they – need it most.

AI Driven Automation

AI provides a solution to an age-old business challenge as it allows routine manual tasks to be automated. Today, insurance companies are heavily reliant on people to extract and analyze data points from insurance submissions to determine if it’s the right business to underwrite as well as re-key data into multiple core systems consuming 2 to 4 hours a day. Alternatively, with SaaS-based artificial intelligence solutions that can interpret and understand the insurance language, data can be automatically extracted from unstructured commercial insurance documents hundreds of times faster than a human, and with greater accuracy. The extracted data can then be shared through API integrations with other core systems, freeing up the underwriter’s time to focus on more judgement focused strategic work.

“According to the Harvard Business Review, “a well-designed digitization program can deliver up to 65 percent in cost reduction and a 90 percent reduction in turnaround time on key insurance processes.”

Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) solutions purpose-built for insurance accelerate an end-to-end underwriting process without compromising the knowledge and rigor needed to assess the risk. By enabling insurance companies to automate tedious tasks such as policy checking, application intake and submission prioritization, AI-powered solutions not only increase underwriting capacity, they allow you to be prepared should an unforeseen event occur that temporarily disrupts your human workforce. And when business returns to normal, you’ll be in a better, stronger position to serve your customers.

Infusing AI capabilities into core underwriting procedures builds resilience and brings long-term strategic and competitive advantages for insurance companies. AI automation allows underwriters to spend their time on strategic work like evaluating risk, shaping the book of business, and nurturing customer relationships. Insurance carriers and brokers can boost operational efficiencies, productivity and increase revenue without adding or replacing staff.

Adaptive and Flexible Business Operations

In fact, AI enables insurers to complete a portion of the commercial lines underwriting process before a submission ever reaches a human underwriter. With the ability to digitally deploy business rules or knock out rules, submissions can be auto-declined or auto-routed allowing underwriters to only focus their time and effort on the submissions that meet specific requirements such as business type, years in business, revenue, claims history, etc., improving transparency and better communications between the broker or agent, carrier and insured.

Striking the right balance between digital and human capacity gives insurance companies the flexibility they need to continue business operations during difficult times with minimal to no impact.

Augmenting existing workforces with digital workers, who are available 24/7 365 days a year, who don’t get sick, can work from anywhere, and who don’t need coffee, reduces the risk of business disruption under any circumstance.

As insurance companies seek to keep their employees safe and customers served during a time of crisis, business leaders and insurance CIOs need to tap into the new capabilities that AI solutions purpose-built for insurance can deliver across the insurance value chain.

According to Accenture, advances such as automation and AI applied to underwriting are the result of a balance between customer demand for a streamlined, less invasive process of obtaining life insurance and profitable business outcomes. These underwriting advances can transform the customer experience. In fact, research indicates that leading insurers that use intelligent automation will not only improve, but also completely reinvent the customer experience and achieve returns in excess of 10 times their investment in the technology.

Deploying digital platforms powered by AI give insurance companies the flexibility to scale across lines of business and geographies and adapt quickly and efficiently to changing business needs. Skilled staff are digitally-enabled to focus on strategic initiatives like writing new business, revenue, and customer relationships, while AI fulfills the mind-numbing administrative tasks like rekeying data, manually applying business rules to submissions, manipulating data and reading through pages and pages of policies looking for inconsistencies, errors and omissions.

Insurance companies looking to amp up their business continuity planning and deliver fast, accurate and consistent underwriting decisions should be investing in AI today. 

For more insights on what to look for and questions to ask when evaluating AI for your organization, download our Buyer’s Guide & Worksheet: Choosing the Right AI Solution for Commercial Insurance.

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