Canadian Underwriter

How COVID affected the digital journeys of Aviva Canada and Marsh Canada

July 17, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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The pandemic could permanently change the way brokers and insurers take advantage of digital services.

“I think the interesting thing about COVID that we have seen – not just in the insurance industry but in the broader context – is that more people in demographics who typically did not use digital solutions are now using digital solutions,” said Aviva Chief Claims Officer Bryant Vernon.

“I have heard so many stories about co-workers’ moms who are now shopping for groceries online, and they had never done this before, but that’s the only way they feel safe doing that,” Vernon said Thursday during a webinar hosted by Canadian Underwriter, alluding to the social distancing precautions that have been prevalent since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic this past March. “I think once you get a taste of it, once you get introduced to it and you figure it out, that’s just going to make [people] … more comfortable with [digital services].”

Among other things, Aviva Canada responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by using digital signatures (instead of ink signatures on paper), in order to reduce the need to rely on couriers to deliver paper documents. Marsh Canada did this as well, said webinar panellist Lynne vonWistinghausen, head of operations and technology the commercial brokerage.

Another recent innovation for Marsh was a digital mail room. This involves centralized receipt of mail in a Toronto office, including scanning documents when they are received.

“From here, we can begin to use other forms of digitizing more effectively like A.I.,” said vonWistinghausen, referring to artificial intelligence. “I don’t want Marsh to go back to the old way of doing things. I have already made it very clear to everyone that we are keeping the digital mail room. We are keeping all of these foundational things we have done, because that allows us to jump off and continue on this journey.”

Webinar audience members answered four poll questions, including where their organization is on its digital journey. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of respondents reported their organization has already started its digital journey and is scaling up. More than one in five (22%) said it is mature with an established model while 11% said it is in the pilot phase and 3% said they have not started yet.

Ron Glozman, founder and CEO of Chisel AI, predicts a continued evolution towards more cloud-based software, suggesting it is easier to update workers’ software if it’s cloud-based than if it is installed on their computers in the manner that was pretty much standard in the 90s.

“It’s definitely more cost-effective,” Glozman said during the webinar. “The ease of maintenance, and the ability of the vendor to deploy fixes instead of it being annual or bi-annual, you can get a monthly fix or maybe even a hot fix if you need something urgently.”

Toronto-based Chisel, which specializes in natural language processing, placed first in 2019 in Zurich’s Innovation World Championship, competing against more than 400 technology startups from 49 countries. Glozman founded Chisel while he was a student at the University of Waterloo.

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1 Comment » for How COVID affected the digital journeys of Aviva Canada and Marsh Canada
  1. Peter Tiseo says:

    Let’s not forget that humans are still analog!

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