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Where AI can help underwriters


August 8, 2019   by Adam Malik


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When nearly half of your time is taken up doing mundane – but essential – tasks, one expert believes it’s time to embrace a better way.

Carlos Benfeito, Montreal-based head of insurance products at Element AI, noted that about 40% of an underwriter’s job is taken up by manual data entry and evaluation. Think of the operational efficiency that can be had if an artificial intelligence approach is adopted.

Consider the underwriting journey, he told Canadian Underwriter: The submission of business, passing along the information to the right underwriter, prioritizing applications, evaluations, following up on recommendations, going through surcharges and rebates and then further referrals.

“All of those steps take time,” he said. “All of those steps require manual intervention.”

That’s where AI can help speed the process along by taking care of those steps. “It can really get the underwriter focusing on certain areas of an application or transaction while applying the AI in each of those [other] the areas,” Benfeito said.

It helps when dealing with carriers as well. They can operate better knowing they can expect information delivered in the same manner time after time and have expectations met on a consistent basis.

“We know that carriers are hard-pressed to get submissions out to their brokers or to their customers and win that piece of business – and getting that out as quickly as possible is important,” Benfeito said. “So using AI can help the underwriter either through certain steps or making decisions that really put the carrier in a place where they can respond to business and respond to the market much quicker than a traditional approach would allow.”

The results of a faster process trickle down to the end consumer. “It’s around customer satisfaction and broker relationship management, increasing their book of business, their top-line growth and even their bottom line as well,” Benfeito said. “The loss ratio and the expense ratio are driven by the efficiency around underwriting. So getting out quicker and using AI to enable that really has an impact across the board.”

Want to get started but find it overwhelming? Think small at first, Benfeito advised. Don’t try to boil the ocean. Get comfortable by applying AI in one area. See how it goes, work out the kinks, get staff used to it and then expand it from there.

“Maybe it’s in the submission area to start,” he said. “Look at your maturity level, not just from a data perspective or from a technology perspective but from a workforce perspective and seeing where AI can really help the workforce, be it the underwriters or the adjusters.”