Changes ahead sign, with a nova flare (Image: Shutterstock) (Image: Shutterstock)

Digital technology is everywhere. Consumers are growing increasingly accustomed to carrying smartphones, tracking activity on wearable devices, and communicating via chat when seeking an online service. As the insurance industry strives to adapt to the evolving needs of today’s consumer, examples of these technologies are becoming more common.

Yet, there is little evidence to suggest these innovations are widely used to facilitate the life claims process.

(Related: Life Insurance Sales Website Beauty Isn’t Everything)

To get a better understanding of how life insurers are integrating technology into the claims process, RGA surveyed insurers from around the world.

The results were eye-opening: Out of 107 respondents, 52% offered multichannel policyholder access including mobile applications. Only 35% of respondents made digital claims functionality available to policyholders.

When it came to decision making and risk management, technology adoption among claims personnel lagged behind that of their underwriting counterparts, with just 26% employing an expert claims system.

Only 3% added an element of artificial intelligence or machine learning, and all of these companies were located in Asia.

Another interesting finding: Most of the companies with expert claims systems suggested that the technology was ineffective, despite 70% of these systems having been developed in-house.

At the same time, such systems offer clear benefits in the form of reduced end-to-end processing times and an improved customer experience.

Similar trends were found among responding underwriters.

Looking forward, change may be on the horizon.

Nearly two-thirds of respondents are seeking to introduce new or additional technology into the claims process, and almost half plan to deploy new technologies on or before 2020. Companies are relying on expert systems, A.I./machine learning, and chatbots as part of technology strategies.

Respondents also reported interest in wearables as a claims solution.

Only time will tell which technology strategies will confer a competitive advantage in claims, but the rising trend seems clear.

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Pen (Image: iStock)

Marilda Kotze is a vice president and global head of claims at RGA South AfricaPhilip Thomas is the claims governance and reporting manager at RGA; and Leigh Allen is director of global surveys and distribution research at RGA.