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Nobody is surprised to see a robot on the factory floor any more. And more and more businesses have added a virtual co-worker to their office staff as well. And for a good reason: new technology is creating new opportunities in the field of automation all the time, and especially within the insurance industry, with its mountains of data and manual processes. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one of the fastest-growing developments in the IT market and it can take over repetitive tasks at an administrative level. Meet the new member of staff who doesn't complain about working overtime and who never comes to office parties!
What is Robotic Process Automation?
In a nutshell: RPA takes away the repetitiveness of human work. Insurers have to perform a lot of recurring administrative activities every day, such as the preparation of price quotations for life insurance, paying out damage claims after accidents, and the underwriting of new customers. In many cases, the entry of the data and the retrieval of information is repetitive work. These time-consuming processes take up time that your employees would rather spend on more challenging and higher-value tasks.
RPA software does the repetitive work for them by mimicking human behaviour. It can login to systems, pull the relevant data, carry out additional controls where necessary, and provide a rapid response even in peak periods. It handles all the straightforward, routine work, and is programmed in such a way that mistakes are hardly ever made. In concrete terms, it means companies can use RPA to speed up the processing of invoices, send attachments by email, overtype documents, and collect information from different systems. And ultimately, that means more efficient and more effective processes.
The opportunities for RPA in the insurance industry
Automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence are gradually being integrated in more and more processes within the insurance industry. Nonetheless, compared to other sectors, the insurance industry is not exactly a front runner in the application of modern technologies.
A study carried out by Deloitte into the application of RPA in different sectors revealed just how big the potential opportunities really are. In ‘The robots are waiting’, Deloitte researched the benefits of RPA software in over 500 companies. The findings speak for themselves: 95% of the companies saw an increase in productivity, 93% reported an improvement in regulatory compliance, 81% saw a reduction in costs, and 80% of the companies said they had a happier workforce.
Digital transformation in the insurance market
In the insurance sector, the competition between the different companies is fierce. In order to keep customers satisfied, it is important to handle their claims quickly. But doing that in practice isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Faced with the ever-changing technological landscape, the hungry competition, and extremely demanding customers, insurance companies often find themselves fighting an uphill battle.
Although the digital transformation was once just a driver of small efficiency improvements, it has now become absolutely essential to avoid being overtaken by the merciless competition. And yet many insurers still cling to their legacy systems or a combination of different systems, applications, and software that cannot keep up with this transformation. That is where RPA can help.
The advantages of RPA
The main advantage of RPA for insurance companies is that it also works with legacy IT systems. RPA is a piece of intelligent technology that can quickly create new data pathways within old IT landscapes. This makes it easier for insurance companies to achieve a certain level of process automation even if the transformation to a digital insurance platform is still a step too far.
RPA has numerous other advantages as well:
- It collects enormous quantities of data: virtual robots collect data that can be used to generate valuable management information.
- Speed, efficiency, and cost reductions: RPA software is configured to work continuously, it is objective, and it is 100% accurate. The cost of claims is reduced considerably as a result.
- Customer Experience: RPA enhances the quality of daily work activities. A robot will work meticulously and systematically all the time, whereas people tend to get distracted and lose focus. With RPA, claims are handled faster and with fewer mistakes.
- Regulatory compliance: compliance is essential for insurance companies. Robots do not have to follow a training course every time new laws and regulations are introduced. A simple adjustment of the operating system is enough to ensure continuous compliance with all the latest statutory regulations. Furthermore, all the decisions and activities of a robot are recorded in the system log. This automatically facilitates the creation of a precise and accurate audit trail.
- Robots are scalable: robots are scalable, handle peak periods effortlessly, and in this way make a positive contribution to the reduction of work stress within an organisation.
Will the robots take over my job?
A lot of people see RPA as a threat to their jobs. At first sight, this might seem like a logical concern: after all, the software takes over the work that is now done by people. In reality, the situation is quite different. RPA actually plays a supporting role, and in that sense it makes people’s jobs easier. The software was never designed with the aim of replacing people together. It does not have the finesse and cognitive capabilities to deal with more complex work.
Instead, RPA is an essential piece of technology for the streamlining of simple and repetitive work processes. This means the human co-workers get to do the more interesting and interactive work that creates value for the organisation (and its customers). Nobody enjoys doing a job where they spend most of their time typing over the same information from one system to the other, day after day after day. Now they can hand off all the boring work to their new pre-programmed colleague, without having to feel bad about it!