By Marianne Hutchinson, Accenture Head of Insurance for Australia and New Zealand.

In recent years, insurers have deployed many new technologies to meet market demands. For innovation-driven insurers, artificial intelligence, robotic process automation, and data analytics have all become essential tools for underwriters today.

As insurers begin to deploy more technology than ever before to improve efficiency and drive new growth, recent research from Accenture found that underwriters are optimistic about these new tools, but are also concerned about their ability to leverage them. utilize.

We have seen slower adoption of new technologies in Australia, with traditional ways of operating slowing interest and investment in recent trends. This is changing rapidly as consumer behavior changes and macro risks, like climate change, force industry players to reinvent the way they work.

With increasing competition from insurtechs and other rivals set to intensify, insurers need to invest in the right technology that leverages their workforce. Finding the balance between human ingenuity and machine collaboration will enable businesses to meet the needs of consumers and employees.

technological explosion

Insurers appear to be leading the way in embracing future-ready technologies, with 75% of life insurers rating the quality of their business’ underwriting as superior, with the same percentage giving the same rating for their use of tools and technology to make underwriting more efficient .

What insurers are doing with these technologies is remarkable. With the explosion of data now at their disposal, they are using AI, machine learning and data analytics to mine this data to better understand their customers, thereby generating much clearer risk profiles. They are adopting modern, third-generation subscription platforms that incorporate automation to reduce and streamline administrative tasks, such as administrative tasks and data entry. These platforms also provide the added benefit of data and information integrity when they need it, so underwriters can get deeper insights in real time.

Integration will be key

However, underwriters say their workload is increasing as processes improve. The technology is being implemented, but it is not yet fully integrated. Underwriters say that despite automation, they spend about 40% of their time on non-essential and administrative activities. While automation helps, underwriters say they can’t overcome inefficient legacy systems and lack of data integration between systems.

Training is just as important. About 40% of underwriters cited lack of training as their top concern. This situation will only be exacerbated in the immediate future by the worsening talent shortage and the aging of the insurance workforce. The value of technology is limited if workers don’t know how to use it properly. Additionally, the traditional learning model is losing relevance as automation increasingly handles what would be entry-level underwriter cases.

What is needed is a reimagining of the underwriting workforce. Companies will train this reimagined workforce and master new underwriting platforms that include built-in data analytics and predictive models. They will know how to underwrite medical risk, master technology and understand how data drives decisions. He will understand why the AI ​​refers cases to the underwriter and will have a deep understanding of the data behind those referrals.

How to get there

Accenture research shows that underwriters are eager to learn and adopt new technologies, with 94% of respondents citing improved training and skills development, as well as improved tools to assess and deal with risks.

Insurers will need to invest in a talent strategy to deliver a future-ready workforce. They can invest in the existing workforce, borrow talent from external talent pools, automate tasks using bots and AI, and/or purchase talent by hiring individuals or acquiring assets. organizational functions.

This will require investments of time and capital. In the meantime, insurers should consider creating an “underwriting analyst” position, partnering with data scientists to continuously test, refine and maintain new models while insurers improve their hand skills. -work.

The goal

The insurers that will thrive in the future will find the right balance between human ingenuity and the capabilities of machines. They will know how to make them complement each other while reinforcing each other. They will understand how AI and automation can allow human ingenuity to flourish, to the benefit of their businesses and their customers.

As Australian insurers upgrade and integrate their systems and enable their workforce to work with them, insurers are poised to maximize human and technological potential.