Canadian Underwriter

Brokerages will need these new skill sets

May 10, 2021   by Greg Meckbach

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To compete in a digital world, the insurance industry needs to hire data scientists and computer programmers, Virtual Symposium B.C. attendees heard last week.

“Every insurance organization is going to look at new roles that they never had before,” said Jeff McCann, founder and CEO of Apollo Insurance Solutions Ltd.

For brokerages, some of those new roles could include data scientists, engineers, programmers and artificial intelligence experts, McCann said during Digital Driving Forces in Customer Experience, a panel discussion held May 4 at Virtual Symposium B.C.

Moderator Tina Osen, president of Hub International Canada, asked the panelists how a brokerage leader should start thinking about what the brokerage is hiring for and what skill sets one should be considering.

“It used to be, ‘I now have a social media co-ordinator,’ and some of these were new roles five or 10 years ago,” said McCann.

Right now, the P&C industry is in a constant state of change. So everyone is going to have to constantly learn new things, McCann suggested.

“It is a hyper-competitive market [in which] you are competing against Amazon and Microsoft to hire people with those skill sets,” McCann said of data science, programming, and artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence has different categories said Ron Glozman, founder and CEO of Chisel AI. Among them are natural language processing, which, in essence, is teaching computers how to read, Glozman said during the panel.

More than 80% of data is unstructured and contained in different siloes, Glozman reported. Examples of unstructured data include Word documents, e-mails, PDF documents (such as applications submitted to carriers by brokers) and Excel spreadsheets.

“How can we, as the insurance industry – one of the most data-rich industries in the world – take that data from unstructured to structured? I think the answer to that comes from automation and artificial intelligence,” said Glozman.

Examples of A.I. outside the insurance context include Siri and automated wheeled carts at warehouses that drive down aisles and pick items off shelves.

Within the insurance industry, a useful example of AI is software that can read text and is able to extract certain types of data. For example, some off-the-shelf software may detect that Aon, Zurich and Sony are organizations. However, it might not be able to detect which of the three organizations is the broker, which is the carrier, and which is the client, said Glozman.

To process a commercial insurance application, an underwriter might need the Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) or North American Industry Classification (NAIC) code that applies to the client’s business, said Glozman.

The client’s application might contain a detailed description of the business, it may not include the SIC or NAIC code. AI software could potentially be used to read buisness descriptions from the clients’ applications and then find the appropriate SIC or NAIC codes under which they fall, as Glozman explained.

Virtual Symposium B.C. was held May 4 to 6 by the Insurance Institute of B.C.

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