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Eliminating the Human Element


A McKinsey Global Institute report has stated that nearly half of current jobs could be automated by 2055. James Andlaw, Senior Underwriter and resident Technology expert at Probitas, looks at what this could mean for Insurance, which has always been an industry reliant on relationships.

“Technological advancements play a huge role in the future of insurance, but it should be in conjunction with the human element, not at the expense of it.” James states.

"Automation certainly increases productivity and reduces the capacity for human error, so can therefore enhance underwriting. A rules based system can expedite and improve the process for simple risks, allowing a business to retain a customer focused model, whilst at the same time freeing up time to build and enhance relationships and customer experiences.”

“Underwriters, analytics and technology should work in tandem, as individuals bring experience and knowledge that no amount of data and coding can replace. Some cases will always need to be evaluated from a human point of view, with common sense and empathy added in with the factual data and analysis.”

As underwriters, most of the work we do requires multiple skills – technical expertise, intuition, experience, empathy, decision making, data analysis... the list goes on. Technology may be able to facilitate and automate some of these, but that doesn’t make the others redundant. In fact, you could argue the introduction of technology highlights the importance of human interaction. “You can’t replace a human’s ability to problem solve or build lasting relationships, two key elements of the insurance industry. As automation and technology advances, it’s more likely we will find ourselves doing more cognitively demanding jobs.”

As an industry that has been largely the same for hundreds of years, it’s customer expectations that is driving change. Start-up’s and disruptors are giving traditional cumbersome carriers a run for their money, as they exploit the opportunity to innovate – particularly in the commercial space which is lagging even further behind.

InsurTech has become a buzz word in the past couple of years, with a 3233% increase in Google searches in just 2 years.

“Insurtech is seeing funding in line with FinTech, and investments are expected to raise as new players and investors alike move into the space. Whilst Probitas isn’t an Insurtech start-up, one of the key fundamentals we share, as a new player, is our ability to work from a clean slate and shape our approach.”

“We’re not burdened by entrenched bureaucracies so can be more flexible with offering a seamless service that builds trusted relationships, whilst we shape our future with the use of technology.”

“You don’t have to be reliant on historical, detailed risk data,” James points out. “The power of information, including new data that can be captured in real-time, as well as that available from a wider range of sources has started to change the way the industry looks at risks. We certainly have the ability to generate more meaningful insight.”

“Part of our brand DNA is the belief in the ‘Power of Technology’ so since our inception, we continuously research the role technology can play in our business and the industry as a whole. This state of exploration and innovation enhances learning and development in so many areas. We recognise however, that it’s important not just to focus on our own industry, as there are certainly lessons and best practices to be learnt from other sectors too. We have a keen interest in the balance between technology lead innovation without eliminating the human element.”

“As technology frees our time, it also increases possibilities. We start to become creative and inventive, we make progress. It’s how we can achieve evolution in today’s modern world” James concludes.