Why risk control always needs the “human touch” | Insurance Business America
Nevertheless, technologies increase efficiency
By David Saric
Technology is changing the way the insurance industry is able to do everyday tasks, but it will never eclipse the necessary human factor required to do business, an insurance industry vice president told Insurance Business.
“You can’t really replace the human touch,” said Christine Sullivan (pictured), Sompo’s senior vice president of risk control for North America. “In risk control, we take pride in our relationships with our clients, and in today’s world that is more important than ever.”
Still, she said: “Technology makes our work more efficient.”
“It can do a third of our assigned workload for us because it’s now streamlined with a mechanical solution, giving us more time to work on other, more challenging projects,” Sullivan said.
During a sit-down interview at the RIMS 2023 edition in Atlanta, Sullivan spoke to Insurance Business about how AI and other technologies are already transforming the way risk professionals go about their day-to-day work and what the future may hold.
COVID has helped foster a new way of doing business
Many industries operating during the COVID-19 pandemic have had to go through a steep learning curve to be able to perform tasks in a remote environment. This applied to risk management professionals who suddenly could no longer physically inspect companies and other physical structures due to health regulations.
“Because COVID basically shut us down, we weren’t allowed to travel or enter customer sites and potentially expose others to the virus in close quarters,” Sullivan said.
To circumvent these obstacles, insurance companies had to resort to high-tech devices that allowed risk managers to do their jobs with the attention required for their jobs. There is also the benefit of being able to carry out work that crosses geographical borders from a remote location.
“There has been an increasing use of virtual technology that has allowed us to walk through a facility without being physically there,” Sullivan said.
“Now, instead of having to fly all the way to Alaska to inspect a site, I can see everything and take photos through software to create a report and share it with an underwriter who can then write a policy to match .”
“AI is more than just a buzzword”
AI has become a hot topic in the insurance industry, especially thanks to its sophisticated design and ability to handle simpler tasks in different areas.
For those who feed properly validated information and statistics into the AI, their ability to streamline a workflow can be an asset.
“AI is more than just a buzzword and is proving to be very useful in certain areas,” Sullivan said.
“We can now feed a set of records and data into software that will then pull out relevant keywords and other information that an underwriter should be aware of, such as whether a company uses a particular chemical that could be controversial.”
There’s also the benefit of AI and other gimmicks in training new professionals entering the field, replacing the more standardized PowerPoint deck or monotonous videos.
“Walking around here at RIMS, I’ve seen a few Oculus technologies slowly making the rounds and teaching people who are entering the field a more immersive and less passive way,” Sullivan said.
“We can also use AI-formulated images to illustrate more specific points in a training module, rather than resorting to less specific stock photos.”
However, beyond this novel improvement of standardized procedures, one must not forget the fundamental and crucial human connections between insurer and insured.
“Although AI can be very sophisticated and helpful, it will have the human emotion or empathy that is at the core of what we do,” Sullivan said.
“Risk control is refined and enhanced by the human touch and no one will forget that, especially in the face of disaster or loss.”
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