February 28, 2019 by Greg Meckbach
Using technology like artificial intelligence can help insurers attract the right people and keep them engaged, suggests the head of a major Canadian insurer.
“It’s a tough talent market right now across the leading insurance markets in the world. Canada is no exception,” said Saad Mered, CEO of Zurich Canada. “We need to make sure that we have a work environment, and tools at the disposal of these young professionals, who could be interested in the insurance industry but really don’t want to work in the 19th century.”
One of Zurich Canada’s goals is to “attract the best and brightest for the next two or three generations,” Mered said Feb. 25 during a press briefing on how Zurich plans to use artificial intelligence.
Zurich Canada is working with AI vendor Chisel to automate the process of reading policy documents for accuracy.
Right now the process is done manually and takes underwriters hours.
Chisel’s AI software is designed to read policy documents and look for errors – such as the wrong dates or the wrong numbers in the limits.
“In some of our work with other partners, some of these underwriters are actually not working 9:00 to 5:00 but they are working 9:00 to 7:00 or 9:00 to 8:00 and that is because they don’t have enough time in the day to get all of their work done,” Chisel president Ron Glozman said during the briefing. “Our goal is to enable them to get that time back and make sure they are efficient and spending time on the important work.”
Artificial intelligence can help employees focus on more high-value human tasks, such as engaging with brokers and customers, giving advice and negotiation, said Mered.
Automation does not necessarily reduce head count but rather changes the mix of employees in the company, he suggested.
When Zurich implements AI tools, the insurer aims to have its own experts in claims and underwriting work with the software to help improve accuracy.
“To be able to manage and augment and evolve the tool – that can really only come from people who understand the subject matter extremely well in great detail, and have a bit of passion in the subject matter and a bit of passion in the technology,” Mered said.
“They loved insurance, they loved what they did, but they also were, I would say, techno geeks and enjoyed the fact that they could do both at the same time.”
In Demographics of the P&C Insurance Industry in Canada 2017 – 2027 report, commissioned by the Insurance Institute, the Conference Board of Canada identified a shortage in the industry in technology talent.
“Analytics and data analysis skills are growing in importance and urgency as organizations look to increase their ability to collect, interpret, and monetize data and their competitive advantage,” the Conference Board said in the demographics report. “There will be jobs created due to emerging technologies and new product offerings within the industry. Such jobs could fall within existing occupational categories or might require skills that are not yet fully understood.”
Canada-wide, the unemployment rate was 5.8% in late January.
“There is a view that in the insurance industry (the unemployment rate) is probably zero per cent,” Mered said. “It’s always a telltale sign when people leave a carrier, regardless of the reasons, they always tend to fall back on their feet fairly quickly.”