Insurance AI
June 5, 2024

Automating Insurance Processes: Unlocking Efficiency While Maintaining Trust with Meredith Barnes Cook

Meredith Barnes-Cook, ReSourcePro Consulting Partner, advises on using AI to automate insurance workflows, boost ROI, and augment human expertise.
Written by Ankur Patel
This is a summary of an episode of Pioneers, an educational podcast on AI led by our founder. Join 2,000+ business leaders and AI enthusiasts and be the first to know when new episodes go live. Subscribe to our newsletter here.

TLDR:

  • High-volume, low-complexity insurance tasks like data entry are prime areas for automation using AI to free up human employees for more complex analysis and customer interactions.
  • Having transparent, explainable AI systems that humans can audit and provide feedback on is critical for building trust and improving models over time.
  • Calculating realistic ROI by factoring in not just technology costs but also ongoing human costs to maintain and enhance AI systems over time is essential for making a business case.
  • Successful AI adoption requires careful change management - redefining roles and setting expectations rather than just cutting headcount. Involving process experts early in designing AI workflows is key.
  • AI can monitor complex claims for anomalies and escalate them to skilled human adjusters, maximizing the strengths of both humans and machines.

Before we dive into the key takeaways from this episode, be sure to catch the full episode here:

Meet Meredith — An Insurance Veteran

Meredith's career in insurance spans an impressive four decades, with 33 years spent at Liberty Mutual and now a partner at ReSourcePro Consulting. Her journey has taken her across various roles, from claims and underwriting to product management and technology. A significant portion of her career was dedicated to the business side of technology, giving her a unique perspective on the intersection of insurance and innovation.

Meredith's pivotal moment came when she recognized the untapped potential of automation in insurance.

She saw an opportunity to streamline high-volume, low-complexity tasks, freeing up human talent to focus on more complex analysis and customer interactions. This realization led her to explore innovative solutions and advocate for change within the industry.

The Automation Imperative

One of the key insights from our conversation was the immense potential for automation in insurance. The industry is overflowing with high-volume, low-complexity tasks that are prime candidates for automation.

By leveraging AI and machine learning, insurers can streamline these processes, freeing up their human workforce to focus on more complex analysis and high-touch customer interactions.

However, as Meredith pointed out, the industry is at varying stages of this automation journey, with many opportunities yet to be fully realized.

Intelligent Document Processing: The Game Changer

A standout application of AI in insurance is Intelligent Document Processing (IDP).

Powered by natural language processing and machine learning, IDP solutions have made significant strides in recent years. They enable insurers to automatically extract data from the diverse array of documents they handle, from policies to claims forms and medical reports.

As Meredith highlighted, IDP can revolutionize the intake process, reduce manual data entry, and significantly improve accuracy. As the technology continues to mature, it's capable to become an indispensable tool in the insurer's arsenal.

Addressing the Talent Crisis

The insurance industry faces a looming talent crisis, with a significant portion of its experienced workforce set to retire in the coming years.

Automation, as Meredith emphasized, can be a key strategy in mitigating this challenge. By enabling insurers to grow their business without a linear increase in headcount, AI can help bridge the talent gap.However, implementing automation isn't solely a technological challenge; it requires effective change management. Engaging employees early, addressing their concerns, and providing opportunities for reskilling and career growth will be critical in this transition.

The Quest for the Right Solution

When evaluating automation solutions, Meredith advises insurers to seek flexible systems that can handle edge cases without breaking. The technology should provide explainability, allowing users to understand how decisions are made, and include a feedback loop for continuous model improvement.Meredith advocates for a human-in-the-loop approach, where AI augments rather than replaces human expertise. This strategy allows insurers to reap the benefits of automation while still leveraging the judgment and experience of their human experts.

Measuring Success/The ROI Conundrum

One of the biggest hurdles in implementing automation is calculating the return on investment (ROI). Insurers must look beyond simple cost savings and consider the revenue growth potential across the entire policy lifecycle.

To build a compelling business case, Meredith recommends having open conversations with technology vendors about realistic impact and timelines. Setting clear expectations and defining success metrics upfront can ensure that automation initiatives deliver measurable value.


The Future: AI and Complex Claims/AI's Potential for Complex Claims

While automation is often associated with simple, repetitive tasks, Meredith highlighted an exciting frontier for AI: complex claims.

By continuously monitoring claims data and proactively flagging potential issues for human adjusters, AI systems can help insurers manage risk and improve outcomes.

This application underscores AI's potential to augment human expertise rather than replace it. By providing real-time insights and recommendations, AI can help adjusters make faster, better decisions, ultimately enhancing customer experiences and reducing costs.

Conclusion

The insurance industry stands at a critical juncture, facing the challenges of a changing workforce, evolving customer expectations, and the need for operational efficiency. As Meredith's insights illustrate, AI and automation offer a path forward, enabling insurers to navigate these challenges and unlock new opportunities.But success requires more than just technology; it demands a strategic, human-centric approach focused on change management and measurable ROI.

Collaboration between insurers and technology providers will be key, as will a willingness to experiment and iterate.The insurance industry's transformation is not just about technology; it's about reshaping an industry to better serve its customers and society as a whole. And for those, like Meredith, who are willing to lead this change, the rewards extend beyond business outcomes – they lie in shaping a future where insurance is more accessible, personalized, and responsive to the needs of our ever-changing world.

Want to learn more about AI in insurance? Check out this episode on AI's impact on insurance through improved risk assessment and customer service with Niko Fotopoulos, CEO of Sparx.

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