Canadian Underwriter

How this mutual insurer eliminated phone tag

November 23, 2020   by Greg Meckbach

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Artificial intelligence is being used now to support human staff with text messaging being a prime example, an Ontario mutual CEO says.

“We are seeing a reduction in cycle times that we have now eliminated that dreaded phone tag that really sucks the life out of the customer experience,” Irene Bianchi, CEO of Peel Mutual Insurance Company, said recently at the Future of Insurance Canada online conference.

Peel Mutual is talking with some of its customers using Hi Marley, an artificial intelligence-based text messaging system. The Boston-based company says its system lets employees interact with customers through a web-based application while customers communicate by texting. Those customers do not have to download an app or visit a website to speak with an insurance company rep.

Many insurance organizations are using artificial intelligence to support exiting human teams without replacing those teams, said Bianchi.

“In the medium term, as companies and consumers get more comfortable with AI-driven tools that are able to help make decisions, it will shift from an enabler of task-specific solutions to being employed across the entire process map of the enterprise,” she said.

Looking five or more years into the future, some predict AI “will replace significant functions within companies,” said Bianchi. “New roles at organizations will be required to ensure that AI interactions and interfaces continue to remain humanized, to ensure that customers accept and want to use it.”

During her presentation, Bianchi mentioned Hi Marley Inc. as an example of one of Peel Mutual’s technology partners. Another partner is Snapsheet, whose software lets auto physical damage claimants get their claims processed by taking pictures and uploading them to a mobile app.

With Snapsheet, Peel Mutual is able to process auto claims faster, she suggested. “For many small insurers in Canada finding the right partner is paramount to your survival, sustainability and ultimately to future success.”

Many established brokers and carriers are finding partners so they can innovate quickly, said David Kerr, technology consulting partner with Deloitte Canada, during a presentation at the Ontario Mutual Insurance Association offices in 2019.

“I see this as an increasing trend — rather than build what can, do we to partner? Or what can we do to acquire a capability that gets us to market faster with a new solution or something we can experiment with?” Kerr said at the 2019 event in Cambridge, dubbed Symposium West.

The idea behind machine learning and artificial intelligence is that a computer program is fed large volumes of data and learns about relationships among variables, said John Hull, a professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, in 2019 at the Property and Casualty Insurers’ Risk Management Conference, produced by the Global Risk Institute and the Insurance Bureau of Canada.

Some carriers and brokers are deploying artificial intelligence virtual assistants, said Ralph Chapman, vice president, financial services for IBM Canada, in an earlier interview.

“So your clients can ask questions, file a notice of loss, check on payments, claims status, get quotes — all of the things that would normally involve human interaction and taking a lot of time from start to finish,” Chapman said earlier this year when asked about major tech trends in insurance in 2020.


Feature image by Stavila

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2 Comments » for How this mutual insurer eliminated phone tag
  1. W Hazelton says:

    This is a joke. Companies need to stop trying to pretend that AI is the cure for everything. Stop thinking that tech is always as good as a person. You know what is as good as dealing with a knowledgeable person? Dealing with a knowledgeable person. The real problem is that companies and clients both lack any sense in how to comunicate. Learn to leave proper messages and include what would be a good time to return your call. Those receiving a message must learn to actually listen to and follow the instructions of the message. This is not to say tech can not play a role, but really, the same rules apply. One must leave an informed message, while the other must act on it. In closing, playing tech tag is no better may phone tag.

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