Why insurance businesses cannot lag on digital

Why insurance businesses cannot lag on digital

This article was produced in partnership with Aspire Systems

Jen Frost, of Insurance Business, sat down with Maha Santaram, Aspire Systems insurance practice leader, to discuss technology trends in the insurance market.

Carriers that do not invest in migrating from legacy platforms will either be “left over” or bought up, according to Aspire Systems insurance practice leader Maha Santaram.

The technology expert recommended that insurance businesses still running on legacy get on board and start to take an “incremental approach”, else get left behind their peers

Nor can agents rest on their laurels – insurance brokers should be looking to banking, where customers are often able to fill out details on a tablet or phone in-branch to speed up onboarding.

“That is the expectation,” said the Aspire Systems expert. “People rarely go to a bank. This is unlike the insurance industry – we are still seeing a lot of physical forms and manual work used in the overall insurance process.”

Aspire Systems has worked with leading names in insurance.

Customers are increasingly looking for a positive digital experience. Expectations have grown since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and have been influenced by strides taken by other financial services industries.

“Many insurers are really looking at going digital, especially from the perspective of interaction with the customer,” Santaram said.

Where it comes to personal lines, carriers have already started to avail of digital tools and innovation to enhance customers’ experiences.

Agents too are “open” to digital innovation, according to the firm.

There are some challenges, though. Carriers are looking to link up with brokers through application programming interfaces (APIs), but with agents on different systems and working with multiple insurers this can pose a cost and skills issue.


Claims is one area that has benefitted from technology over the past two years.

The pandemic digital drive saw insurers increasingly adopt online claims portals as they sought to work around restrictions.

Aspire Systems has seen instances of insurers that had processed claims close to 100% offline pre-pandemic now using digital claims portals.

Digital device capture, such as for uploading photos and documents, has now become an expectation, according to the technology firm.

“The real remembrance of the customer experience, or that ‘connect’ with the insurer, comes when a claim scenario happens,” said Santaram. “If I am making a claim, and I’m facing difficulties, then I’m going to look for a different insurer the next time.”

Advanced technologies, such as drones and image recognition, are increasingly being used to drive claims efficiencies.

For commercial lines products, there remains a need for digital adoption.

While personal lines insurance purchasers are, in many cases, able to get a quick online quote and insurers are increasingly improving the claims process, the industry is not yet seeing this same level of innovation on the commercial side due to the complexity of the risks.


However, there are other ways that digital can help, and is helping, where it comes to commercial lines, and it is not just customer experience improvements that can help businesses make gains.

Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) have the potential to drive underwriting time savings.

“When it comes to lines of business such as aviation and marine engineering, more complicated business, complete automation in terms of underwriting continues to be a challenge,” the technology expert said.

There is, however, an increasingly “redefined mindset” that is seeing complex commercial lines underwriters look to automate parts of the process, with efficiency improvements being driven through analytics and data extraction.

The Aspire Systems expert predicted that, with the assistance of ML, AI and analytics, such as predictive diagnostic, it should be ultimately possible to automate processes that would traditionally require human intervention.

For personal lines and life businesses, there are already potentially vast gains to be made, existing case studies have shown.

Aspire Systems recently worked on a project with a life insurer that saw it achieve 97% underwriting automation and cut down processing time from four days to one day.

In terms of building on legacy, carriers are looking for both ‘out of the box’ and custom solutions.

For property & casualty and life carriers looking to choose a modernisation partner, Aspire Systems’ top tip is that it is vital that the technology business they choose “understands the depth and the breadth of the product”.

Maha Santaram has been in the technology business for more than 20 years. As head of insurance practice at Aspire Systems, she has been focusing on strengthening Aspire’s insurance solutions strategy thereby building out the business’s portfolio and finding solutions for clients thanks to her strong industry knowledge and wealth of experience.

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