Lessons gleaned from the hardship of 2020–2023 are benefiting every industry now, but insurance firms hold a special vantage point …

As the last vestiges of the COVID-19 pandemic linger on, reminding the world that economic recovery has to be focused on establishing continued resilience, agility and pivotability — one industry whose fortunes are tied to levels of global financial inclusion, world health and well-being is: insurance.

Should a Disease X or some other forecast plague cause another few years of global lockdowns and medical terror, will the global industry have transformed itself well enough to assist humanity to stay safe and be buffered from evitable financial hardship?

DigiconAsia.net interviewed Sue Coulter, Head of Group Digital and Analytics, AIA, for a quick snapshot of the industry’s efforts to be a guiding light in high-impact crises that involve pandemics, climate change, and social phenomena driven by technological factors …

DigiconAsia: How do insurance firms employ data analytics to improve service offerings to today’s digitally savvy customers, while at the same time differentiating from competitors?

Sue Coulter (SC): In the industry, by embedding data analytics across the organization, insurers can drive operational efficiencies, design better customer experiences and can deliver new growth opportunities. Analytics and AI are transforming the relationship with customers as agents have more information at their fingertips to help more people with their financial and health protection. 

Using next-generation data analytics and AI solutions, insurers are yielding strong results in turnaround times and straight-through-processing, significantly speeding up the end-to-end claims process.

Sue Coulter, Head of Group Digital and Analytics, AIA

Digitally-savvy customers expect a digital claims experience that fulfils their requests easily and quickly.
To different themselves insurers have, to varying degrees:

    • implemented AI/ML to enhance claims adjudication accuracy and improve straight-through-processing, which can result in automated decisions in up to 94% of cases while maintaining very low claims leakage (false positives).
    • Leveraged data and AI to drastically streamline the claims process, allowing customers to receive a quick decision and payment into their account within minutes instead of days
    • Created intuitive, personalized interactions with customers via superapps and chatbots to ensure customers receive more relevant products and services tailored to their needs at every life stage. For example, in China, Thailand and Vietnam, we use superapps to provide users with a wealth of interactive health and well-being services and content.
    • Harnessed AI-powered tools to recruit, train and equip agents by providing them with insights that drive increased efficiency and productivity while reducing attrition rates. AIA itself uses an AI-enabled 24/7 role-play platform to train agents in communication skills so they serve customers better.

DigiconAsia: How has AIA used generative AI tools to enhance customer engagement? How has this affected the job scopes of customer service officers and employees in general?

SC: Generative AI (GenAI) tools are incredibly exciting, and we recognize the potential for them to innovate customer engagement. However, they are also subject to bias and generating errors. Our approach to large language models (LLMs) and all new technologies is to test-and-learn, thoroughly examining the technology and assessing potential risks such as data leakage and copyright protection before implementing anything. 

We are currently developing several use cases, including using GenAI to support developers in coding, generating personalized content and media, and developing a GenAI sales and service assistant to provide nudges and trends to agent leaders for team performance monitoring. All these use cases will be thoroughly tested before implementation.

DigiconAsia: In terms of DEI, ESG and sustainability, how has the industry as a whole been embracing AI and data analytics? What more can be done, in view of the urgent climate change goals of 2030/2050?

SC: The insurance industry is increasingly embracing AI and data analytics to advance DEI, ESG, and sustainability goals. Data analytics and AI can help insurers to identify and mitigate risks associated with climate change and other environmental factors and develop more inclusive and sustainable digital products and services. 

If we are to achieve the urgent climate change goals of 2030/50, we need to think beyond the role of data analytics and AI and look at how broader digital transformation is helping us to address climate change and meet other ESG goals. Digitalization is key to reducing the environmental performance of operations and reducing our impact on the environment, while creating long-term value for industry customers, employees, and partners.

In December 2021, like many others in the industry, AIA committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050. The industry as a whole is committed to the Science Based Targets initiatives (SBTi) to set ambitious emission reduction targets in line with the latest climate science deemed necessary to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement. Internally:

    • In terms of establishing sustainable operations, group-wide cloud adoption has reduced our reliance on on-premises data centers, and 100% of our new buildings are environmentally certified; and 87% of our buy, service, claim transactions are digital. Also, 98% of our new business are based on paperless Buy journeys; and 92% of our output is sent digitally.
    • In terms of ESG and DEI, we are championing financial inclusion and expanding access to quality care by partnering with like-minded firms to connect with Asia’s younger, underinsured populations.
    • Also, through fostering a learning environment, ensuring equitable and fair processes for employment and progression, and building a diverse, inclusive, and supportive culture we are empowering people to succeed. Our adoption of Agile methodologies is accelerating cross-functional collaboration among specialist teams, speeding up decision making through empowerment and providing greater transparency across the organization. We have also invested in re-skilling and upskilling many of our people through specialist Cloud, Design, Agile and Analytics Communities of Practice and training academies, ensuring a smooth transition to digital platforms in a fast-paced, transformational environment.

The health of the planet is inextricably linked to the health of our communities. Sustaining healthier, longer, better lives requires everyone to take action to address climate change, the impact of which continues to be deeply felt in our communities and globally.

DigiconAsia thanks Sue for sharing her industry insights with our readers.