Digital technologies have disrupted many industries and have had a significant impact on how insurance providers engage with and meet the needs of today’s consumers. With competition emerging from nimble startup insurtech companies and an increasingly digital tech-savvy consumer base, the industry has been propelled towards more agile and efficient business models.

Advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are now creating opportunities for insurance companies to apply the technology in ways that advance automation and engagement models. An area of AI that is proving highly valuable for insurance is natural language processing (NLP), in the form of conversational AI solutions.

Commonly referred to as chatbots, virtual assistants, digital assistants, or digital workers, the application of conversational AI extends beyond just simulating human conversation to solving customer issues using natural language as an interface, with AI backing it up. In essence, this provides customer self-service and automation models that are fueled by AI.

In this blog, I’ll explore some different use cases for digital or virtual workers that can help insurance companies automate some key customer interactions and workflows.

5 Use Cases for Insurance Digital Assistants

Think of any way that a customer needs to interact with their insurance provider. Whether it’s for auto, property, life, home, health or employment insurance, there are many different interaction points where a digital assistant can add great business value in terms of customer convenience as well as operational cost efficiencies. Let’s look at five examples of these digital assistant solutions at different points in the customer lifecycle and see how powerful they are for the bottom line.

1. Quotation Assistant

Regulatory and technology shifts have disrupted how insurance customers search for and purchase insurance, leading to a competitive market for attracting new customers. The quotation process is a critical part of the sales process where customers decide not only on price but on the transparency of information regarding the best policy suited to their unique situation and needs.

A quotation assistant can provide 24/7 support to customers, offering them the convenience of receiving information on policies, on their time. It can also offer personalized quotes and advise customers about how they can reduce their quote with simple changes to their policy application. The bot increases transparency around insurance details but also reduces the friction and time associated with obtaining an insurance quote. It can also answer any queries a customer has during the interaction and, if it can’t answer, it can handover to an agent. A digital worker plays a pivotal role in converting quotes to sales by assisting customers through the process in a more convenient and faster way, driving higher conversion rates which improve both revenue and cost-efficiency.

Read a case study of how an insurance company increased sales conversions by over 11% by deploying a Quote Assist bot.

2. Onboarding Assistant

Customer onboarding is critical as it represents a revenue opportunity if you can enroll and get new customers up and running with their policies as quickly and efficiently as possible. But onboarding customers can be a costly and complicated activity, especially as there can be many steps in the customer journey that require proof documents to be validated before coverage gets the final approval. Many companies gather these multiple documents via email or even regular letter mail which is not only tedious and labor-intensive but is also costly.

An onboarding assistant can proactively engage with customers throughout the complete onboarding journey, automating much of the workflow by requesting the required proof documents and customer information via image uploads, where the data can be automatically extracted and validated. This makes for a much more seamless journey compared with live agents having to email or send letters to new customers seeking missing information and then receiving and sorting through email attachments.  By integrating the onboarding bot with the policy systems the document images and data can be automatically updated in the customer’s record, eliminating the need for staff to key in or scan documents and enter them into the customer’s account details.

Manual labor in managing the gathering and collating of onboarding documents can be cost-prohibitive so using a digital worker to automate the journey offers customers a seamless and fast way to onboard as well as contributing to cost savings and revenue generation for the insurance company.

3. Claims Assistant

When a customer needs to make a claim, a virtual assistant can support the journey that they take in reporting the incident and following up on the status of their claim. A digital or virtual claims assistant takes a lot of friction out of the customer journey by gathering all the necessary details via image or document uploads, such as drivers licenses, photos of property damage, etc. These can be captured within the chat and immediately recognized and validated.

In the case of an auto incident, the bot can add value by scheduling repairs or roadside assistance, using geolocation to identify where the customer is. A customer can easily follow up on the status of their claim by re-engaging with the digital worker, no matter what time of the day or night it is. In the course of the claims interactions, the bot can answer any queries relating to the customer’s policy, deductibles, no claims bonus, etc. All these claims-related interactions and workflows can be fully or partially automated by the digital worker, handing over to or collaborating with human agents or staff when necessary.

4. Policy Assistant

Throughout the term of an insurance policy, it isn’t uncommon for customers to make changes to their insurance policy, sometimes referred to as mid-term adjustments. These changes invariably impact the customer’s premium, which can increase or decrease depending on the change made.

For example, contact information can change as customers move house, marry, divorce, or just change phone and email details. But more importantly, customers need to inform their insurance company if they add or change the property they are insuring or if they add a new member to their policy. For example, if a customer changes their car, improves their property, or adds an additional driver to their policy, the policy needs to be adjusted accordingly to ensure that they maintain proper coverage in the event of needing to make a claim. Often customers also make changes in order to try to reduce their premiums.

A policy assistant bot can be available 24/7 to help customers make these adjustments and advise them on the risks and/or additional charges that will be incurred as a result. The bot can automate routine queries and make common changes for the customer. If the request cannot be handled by the bot or if it is a complex issue it can be handed off to a live agent. This can be done either by integrating with the company’s live chat system or the bot can schedule a callback from a staff member.

5. Renewal Assistant

Digital workers can be proactive also, reaching out to remind customers of upcoming renewal dates and offering them an incentive to sign up early or providing them with a new quote to reflect any changes in their situation. By engaging more frequently throughout the policy period a digital worker can help build a relationship with the customer so that when it comes to renewal time they are less likely to shop around and switch companies. This helps improve the customer retention rate and positively impacts lowering costs associated with acquiring or re-acquiring customers.

Digital Assistants Automate across the Complete Customer Lifecycle

The business applications for digital assistants are not just confined to customer service but span the complete customer lifecycle, engaging with a customer at the very first point of interaction in a sales or acquisition process right through to when a customer makes a claim, renews their policy or even leaves for a competitor. As such, many different departments in an insurance company are finding their own use cases for implementing these AI-powered digital assistants to help them automate how they engage with customers from sales to operations, customer service, finance, marketing, and retention.

The Insurance Customer Lifecycle and Use Cases for Digital Assistants

Whether it’s a request for an insurance quotation, submitting an insurance claim, renewing a policy, scheduling an appointment with a claims adjustor, or onboarding new customers, conversational bots work in automated and intelligent ways to support customers around the clock.

A good architecture and platform can also support multiple digital workers across an organization working collaboratively in ways that bring a consistent and seamless customer and brand experience. After all, they act as your brand ambassador in the same way that your staff does and it is the sum of all the interactions that a customer has with your brand over their lifetime with the company that influences their overall experience and willingness to remain with you.