Global insurers are being forced to digitise their operations to cope with dramatic changes in the global market, where selfie deaths are climbing into double and triple digits, ordinary people call for tens of millions of dollars in life assurance, and policy holders expect instant service via their mobile devices, day or night.
“Insurers know they have to reinvent their systems to stay efficient and ensure customer satisfaction in a digital world,” says Leo Corcoran, CEO of insurance software firm ClaimVantage.
Speaking ahead of the ASISA Underwriting and Claims Conference in South Africa this month, Corcoran says the market was undergoing change from all sides. The agenda for the conference clearly illustrates the changes insurers are faced with, he says: South African underwriters will gather in Sandton next week to consider issues like ‘When the machines take over’, ‘Are selfies worth the extra premiums?’, ‘Is any life worth the USD200M sum assured?’
Corcoran says South African insurers are moving to change their focus and operations to adapt to this evolving environment. “The biggest change we have seen in the past three to four years is that the claims department, which has always been seen as a cost centre, is now seen as a customer service centre and the focus has moved to how insurers can better service the claimant.”
He says technology is seen as the way to support this change, but that progress is often hampered by outdated legacy systems containing silos of data which are not integrated; too much paper in the system supported by manual workarounds; sub systems based on spreadsheets; and access databases and legacy technology platforms providing a very fragmented approach to customer service.
In addition, an increasingly mobile client base is expecting app-enabled service 24/7. “Unfortunately, while the claimant is not restricted by technology, insurers are very slow to move forward,” he says.
In South Africa, insurers are scrambling to go digital, but many are hampered by the legacy problem, says Corcoran.
“Insurers know that changes need to be made to help ensure customer satisfaction in a digital world. One of the biggest challenges for insurers is that the Cloud is the way forward but there are concerns about data security, data at rest and encryption of their data.” Artificial Intelligence and analytics, which promise to revolutionise the world of insurance, are also out of reach as long as the legacy problem remains, he says.