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The Role of Digitization And Data Analytics in Revolutionizing the Insurance Sector

As industries in the post-pandemic world increasingly seek to adopt technological solutions to remove data silos, streamline end-to-end business functions, and maximize productivity, a huge ocean of opportunity to address existing organizational fault zones lies in front of leaders of connected enterprises across various sectors, including insurance.

The crisis on the health front coupled with market volatility has persuaded insurance companies worldwide to seek digital intervention in order to improve operational efficiencies and profitability. During this transformative phase, they have had to negotiate challenges like a paucity of resources, and the need to manage shifting compliance requirements and create competitive products.

The growth of the global insurance industry (valued at $6466.23 billion in 2023), with a massive requirement of historical and real-time data to verify and settle claims, largely continues to be hampered due to low technological application. The insurance sector has been slower than most other industries to embrace the digital ecosystem thus making it difficult to stay competitive and to offer services in line with the expectations of customers.

It is not difficult to see why.

Most of the data available to underwriters is still put together manually in the form of paper contracts or PDF files thus rendering human end-to-end decision-making both time-consuming and costly.

The slow pace of tech transformation in the insurance sector also owes to the continued presence of legacy systems like obsolete business tools and unsupported platforms, which still continue to be used to the industry’s detriment.

Ergo, there is clearly a need for connected enterprises to digitize information from physical documents, subtract time and money spent, and build data layers that can facilitate timely and correct decision-making.

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In recent years, however, the data disconnect witnessed earlier has seen a significant reduction with the insurance sector moving on to the digitalization bandwagon. Firms have begun to appreciate the huge benefits accruing from leveraging digital technologies for a better customer experience, the consequent reduction of the cost of doing business, and the embedding of agility in transactions. Factors like inflation, rising interest rates, and skill shortages have only served to accelerate digital transformation in insurance processes.

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A rapid growth in internet penetration is being witnessed while increased risks associated with internet use for critical transactions have driven the demand for cyber insurance. This has helped firms scale up their business models and to offer customers a seamless, hassle-free, experience. The current observable trends include the application of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and predictive analytics capabilities in operations, shifting of on-premise technology assets to the cloud, data sharing, and equipment monitoring in real time.

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The advantages of digitization are very much there for all to see. Insurers have profited from it by being able to meet customer expectations through product enhancement, raised processing efficiency, effective policy management, offering round-the-clock customer support, and achieving operational goals such as fraud prevention and effective management of risks. Veritably, the biggest plus is that automated insurance solutions are helping firms reduce time and bring about accuracy in data. Chatbots are now able to offer customer support services, understand their requirements, and answer queries on products and services.

Companies are increasingly using Robotic Process Automation (RPA), easily among the most widely applied tools, to streamline all insurance processes, including marketing, renewals, and sales. A notable instance from the industry demonstrates that Connected Automation can significantly enhance operational efficacy, with one major insurance firm in the US reportedly achieving around 95% efficiency in its processes.

While admittedly RPA has its embedded advantages, it is also critical to leverage cognitive capabilities with AI and analytics for a greater degree of efficiency. The inclusion of cognitive software solutions, like natural language processing, can contribute to the transformation of the insurance business from a purely human-oriented domain to an intelligent business landscape.

Clearly, the technological options available at present can only address part of the challenge. Leaders of connected enterprises have the task of persuading insurance firms to move away from traditional methods, and also further raise the level of intelligent technology adoption. While AI is being used in the process, data of low relevance can have a debilitating impact on the decision-making process. Contextual data, incorporation of the organization’s policies, and historical interpretation of policy decisions, together with AI, can help throw up more intelligent and accurate recommendations to underwriters in terms of what kind of risk is acceptable.

Digitization – and data analytics – can help insurance firms maximize their potential, derive a proper understanding and interpretation of historical policy decisions, access customer information and contextual data for quick and smooth decision-making, develop personalized products that improve customer retention, and lead to profitable running of business and return on investment (RoI).

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While digitalization needs to be further mainstreamed in the insurance sector, a governing mechanism to bridge the gap between technology and human-run business would serve as the feather in the underwriter’s cap.

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