Despite the huge advances in technology, I sometimes feel like nothing has changed in insurance operations and claims. I have been working in this space internationally for the last 20+ years in chief operating officer (COO) insurance company roles and now in management consulting and technology solutions. From first-hand experience, I am not sure the customer feels like much has changed either. Why is this the case?
Why the inertia?
Technology has had its limitations in the past and large insurers have struggled with legacy operating systems that have been expensive to customize, integrate with new solutions or change out. It has been easier to innovate on the edges or in the back office than in the core customer operations and experience delivery.
In Australia, where I have spent much of my career, there has been a culture within the large insurers to “build in-house,” given the extensive internal technology resources available, partly to keep these legacy systems going.
What is changing? B2B SaaS and ‘partner, not build’
B2B software as a service (Saas) is changing all of this. These solutions are highly visible to us in B2C, but SaaS is now having a significant impact on the enterprise solutions space.
We’re also seeing a shift toward a ‘partner, not build’ mentality as part of the agile and experimental movement being adopted by organizations. If major insurers can completely outsource windshield repairs to the windscreen experts, why can’t they take the same approach with other specialist operational services?
I believe the partner, not build model and B2B SaaS solutions will gain even more traction in 2021 and beyond, as corporations seek out the best-in-breed specialists who can provide niche tech solutions. There is increasing recognition at the C-suite level that internal technology teams are more than capable of managing the core systems. However, they are not necessarily set up or have the mindset to experiment and innovate. Perhaps this is why many corporate innovation labs often fail.
The future impact of technology on operations
So, what will the technology impact on operations and claims look like in 2021 and beyond? My view is that the adoption of B2B SaaS solutions and a partner, not build approach will accelerate in 2021, driven by five key external and internal factors.
- The immediate need for “contactless” solutions due to COVID-19.
- The high expectation of customers for a multi-channel, mobile-first service model. Online retailers have set the bar high! Digital services are now a basic expectation, rather than a differentiation factor, for brands. Excuse the pun, but the customer wants to be in the driver’s seat.
- The ability for some SaaS solutions to come with an out-of-the-box artificial intelligence (AI) functionality. AI is a game-changer for operations and claims. Just look at what a chatbox can now achieve.
- The pressure on capital expenditures (CAPEX) budgets in 2021. Companies will also look for quick wins and short sprints rather than funding major transformation projects.
- The need for flexibility. SaaS provides an organization with the flexibility to plug in or plug out solutions. It is easier for management to greenlight an operating expenses (OPEX) investment when they know they can change direction more easily than in the past.
SaaS game changers
There are three game-changers when it comes to insurance operations and claims:
- Robotics – dealing with the automated, digitization of documentation
- True AI – managing first-line customer contacts, predicting claims events, delivering smarter triage, automation of estimation and fraud detection
- 3D imaging to assess damage
For everyone in the operations and claims space, the future is an exciting one.
David McDonald is president, international for The Claims Bridge and has over 20 years of experience in chief operating and customer roles in insurance and energy in Australia. Contact him at [email protected]. The opinions expressed here are the author’s own.