insurance partnerships IVA

How the Insurance Industry Benefits from Partnerships Between Live Agents and IVAs

January 9, 2019

Artificial intelligence (AI), specifically intelligent virtual assistants, aid households across the US and beyond, and businesses are learning that customers want the same sort of instantaneous service from them as they get from the Amazon Alexa on their counter. Customers are demanding faster service and quicker solutions—all at their convenience—and there’s no way for companies to keep up with that demand by just employing live agents. Insurance companies are no different.

That’s why some insurers have introduced AI and automation to their processes. They utilize virtual assistants to help with tasks such as underwriting to claims in order to add consistency and reduce risk. Yet, we still see much of the customer care process relying on live agents. What’s more, we see plenty of insurance companies who haven’t adopted even the most basic artificial intelligence.

The reason for this? The claims process for insurance companies involves many repetitive processes including info gathering, disclosures, and data entry. While these would be the perfect candidates for automation, many insurers hesitate to automate this personal part of the relationship with their customers. Customers want to feel as though they’re being taken care of, and they don’t want to be a number shuffled through a call tree. Plus, insurance companies recognize the need to make personal connections, which deepens the relationship with the policyholder.

Still, it is possible to get the best of both worlds: automate the repetitive transactional piece of the claim with intelligent virtual assistants that provide a human-like experience while having a live agent involved in the process. It’s a win-win for the customer who needs to have their issue solved and the insurance company who needs a financially viable solution to file and fulfill claims from their policyholders.

Artificial intelligence helps reduce errors

Insurance companies are most successful when they manage risk and add consistency to their processes. It grants them the ability to limit mistakes being made. This is why underwriting, pricing, and claims processing are easily automated processes. It reduces the chance of error and ensures tight compliance to business rules and regulations.

We see this across the board in many industries; tasks that are repetitive and transactional are ripe for automation. It’s number crunching or decision-making on an if-then level, and it doesn’t always require the intelligence of a human. In fact, insurers benefit from automating as many of the processes as possible and keeping live agents focused on other, more complex tasks.

It’s still important to remember, however, that insurance companies don’t have many opportunities to interact with their policyholders. When they do, plenty is on the line with policyholders stressed about needing to file a claim. Because of this, insurance companies make large and necessary investments in their agents.

A downside is that live agents spend ample time on work that doesn’t add value, including identifying and authenticating callers, and collecting, entering and verifying data. These are all things that can be done by AI in order to free up a live agent’s time to handle issues that require human intelligence—all while reducing the chance for errors and maintaining a personal connection with the policyholder.

An example of a process that fits the repetitive and transactional nature of circumstances insurance companies encounter is the first notice of loss (FNOL) for P&C claims. The transaction typically requires an agent to identify the insured and confirm they are who they say they are. Then, the agent confirms that the policyholder is covered for what they experienced. From there, they gather data about the claim, including what car was involved (in the case of an accident), where it happened, when it happened, and whether there were any injuries and police reports filed.

Optimizing live agents for high priority work

Insurance live agents are well-trained and well-compensated, but they are spending a good amount of time (sometimes up to 3-5 minutes per call) on repetitive tasks that don’t add value to the interaction. For large insurance companies that process millions of claims a year, 3-5 minutes per call can certainly add up.

With live agents tied up on repetitive, transactional tasks, they’re unable to answer more detailed, important questions from policyholders and create a relationship with the customer. Additionally, agents tied up with mundane tasks lead to frustrated policyholders who are already calling under a decent amount of stress.

Intelligent Virtual Assistants work in partnership with live agents

Intelligent Virtual Assistants can speed up the claims process by immediately greeting the policyholder and asking how they can be helped. There’s no need for phone trees or long hold times. IVAs  can then gather basic, required information on the claim and deliver that information to a live agent to finalize the process and address any specific concerns the customer has. This ensures consistency by always gathering the proper information and providing required information to the customer. Moreover, an IVA can be available any time of day or night, year-round. The IVA can also provide claims status and updates without the policyholder ever needing to speak to a live agent.

This process ensures a seamless partnership between the virtual assistant and the live agent—rather than artificial intelligence replacing the agent. The live agent serves an extraordinary purpose for policyholders, and they fulfill the need to answer detailed, nuanced questions that require human interaction.

That being said, Intelligent Virtual Assistants don’t just make the customer’s life easier, they can make the live agent’s life easier too. By collecting and processing the simple data, the live agent is freed up to spend more value-add time with the insured. This boosts customer service by helping policy holders feel more comfortable with the process and ensuring that all the customer’s questions are answered.

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