How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing the Insurance Industry
August 2017, CIPR Newsletter
Big Data, Artificial Intelligence & Insurance
Presentation to the Innovation and Technology (EX) Task Force
August 8, 2017
AI in Insurance: Hype or reality?
March 2016, PWC
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Last Updated 12/28/17
Issue: The use of artificial intelligence (AI) has increased exponentially across industries over the past several years. The rise in accessible data, increased computing capabilities, and changing consumer expectations has led to a strong acceleration of AI development. We are now using AI throughout the landscape of our lives—often without realizing it. Consequently, AI is rapidly evolving and creating viable opportunities for business growth. It is disrupting and improving organizations across all industries, including insurance. Companies such as IBM, Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon are leveraging AI platforms and solutions for customers, partners and employees. While insurers are in the early stages of catching this wave, they are said to be ripe for transformation in areas such as underwriting, customer service, claims, marketing and fraud detection.
Background: AI is the study and development by which a computer and its systems are given the ability to successfully accomplish a task typically requiring a human's intelligent behavior. Currently, within traditional industries, many tasks are achieved by humans—for example, gathering information, analyzing data by running a model or using personal judgement, and finally making a decision. AI allows technology to replace humans on all of these steps—from data collection and analysis down to the final decision-making.
Over the past several years, AI technology has progressed immensely and continues to develop and improve all the time. It has become increasingly proficient at performing tasks historically difficult for computers to execute, including recognizing images, identifying spoken words and using unstructured data. The acceleration in AI is being driven by exceptional technological advances along with a major shift in customer expectations. Higher computer power, memory capacity, cloud computing, big data technologies, and global connectivity of both people and machines have enabled machines to run complex algorithms faster than humans and handle more input data than a human could. Moreover, shaped by their experiences with other industries, insurance customers, particularly millennials, now expect quick on demand services.
The successes of AI are also being facilitated by the massive amounts of data we have today. The wealth of data we now create is astonishing, and the speed at which data is generated has only made data management tools like AI all the more important. Whether it is structured or unstructured data (e.g., social media, wearables, telematics, sensors, news, weather and traffic reports), AI is helping organizations make sense of big data. Driverless cars create roughly 4 terabytes of data a day. Statistical models cannot handle that amount of data. As AI is able to execute complex analyses and computations at a speed impossible for humans, it generates faster insights.
AI has the potential to affect the insurance industry in multiple ways. The most obvious areas it can be used include claims processing, underwriting, fraud detection and customer service. For example, to improve customer experience, many insurers are investing in virtual assistants like chatbots. A chatbot is a digital service capable of holding natural sounding conversations with human beings with the aim of accomplishing particular tasks, such as answering questions. Chatbots answer questions, give basic advice, and address common inquiries and transactions. In addition, claims management can be augmented using machine learning techniques in different stages of the claim handling process. For example, machine learning models can help automatically assess the severity of damages and predict the repair costs from historical data, sensors and images.
Moreover, insurers are sitting on a treasure-trove of big data, the main ingredient AI requires to be successful. When asked about the benefits of embedding AI into their interfaces, more than half of the insurance executives surveyed in a recent Accenture Report cited better data analysis and insight. The abundance of data fused with unstructured data can be leveraged to increase customer engagement, create more personalized service and more meaningful marketing messages, sell the right product to customers and actually target the right customer.
Status: The emergence of AI is a powerful form of technology with the potential to transform the insurance industry in a number of ways. So far, the impact of AI in insurance has been minimal. The insurance industry has only begun its venture into AI, with many insurers' experimenting with new ways to incorporate it into their day-to-day operations in anticipation of further technological development. In addition, InsurTechs (technology based solutions for insurance) are using AI to develop solutions to streamline operations, create better underwriting models and enhance enhanced customer service. However, while AI provides opportunities for traditional insurers to modernize themselves, implementing AI is not straightforward. Insurers could face challenges integrating AI into their existing technology due to issues such as data quality, privacy and infrastructure compatibility, according to the Accenture Report.
The NAIC recently formed the Innovation and Technology (EX) Task Force to explore the technological developments in the insurance sector. The Task Force will provide a forum for discussion of innovation and technology developments in order to educate state insurance regulators on how these developments will affect consumer protection, insurer and producer oversight, and the state insurance regulatory framework.