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How insurance technology still needs the human factor

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We often comment in our blogs about the threat of tech startups stealing market share, but what about the threat of technology to the people who work in insurance?

A report in The Sunday Times last month revealed that Aviva is planning to consult its 16,000 employees on whether their jobs could be automated. Those who are considered to be most at risk are involved in calculating and setting prices, assessing customer ratings, and working in call centres.

According to research by McKinsey, the next 10 years will see up to 25 per cent of full-time positions consolidated or replaced. And research by Oxford University warned that 35 per cent of UK jobs are in danger from automation in the next 20 years – with underwriters at the top of the list.

Although this seems like bad news it’s unlikely to mean mass redundancies in the insurance sector, because there’s another trend that will create new jobs. While digital technologies, machine learning and robo-advisers will eliminate some functions, they will open up roles where human intervention can add more value than a machine ever could. Humans will always be needed to advise, bridge information gaps, build understanding and personalise insurance so that there is an emotional relationship between customers and insurers.

Instead of a threat, we should see automation as a way of reorganising and improving roles. Technology helps companies shift their focus and redeploy workers rather than lay them off – time previously spent on routine and labour-intensive tasks can now be used for more innovative and challenging work.

Thanks to insurance technology such as RDT’s, underwriters are able to spend less time gathering and verifying data and more time analysing and assessing risks. Automating the claims cycle enables claims handlers to improve customer service by freeing up time to focus on the human element.

Insurtech allows employees to develop new skills and concentrate on client-customer touch points that were previously neglected. So, whatever the results of the Aviva survey, there’ll always be a place for flesh-and-blood insurance professionals.