Blue Prism Cafe - RPA in the insurance industry: Lessons learned and best practices

By Ahson Pai - Global Head of Digital Consulting, EXL

I recently had the pleasure of taking part in the latest Blue Prism Café, joined by thought leaders from New York Life Insurance Company and CUNA Mutual Financial Group, where we discussed best practices for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) with a live audience. In this special episode on the insurance industry we highlighted why and how to implement a Digital Workforce using real-life examples of implemented processes, and, more importantly, what best practices organizations can share to make RPA a long-term and scalable solution for their business. This blog encapsulates key insights from that conversation. 

Transforming insurance for the changing customer 

Enhancing customer experience and delivering greater value is now the top strategic priority for businesses across the globe - as revealed by our recent joint survey with Harvard Business Review. Customer expectations are rising, creating an impetus to generate innovative ideas to meet these needs while simultaneously driving down operating costs.

For example, Lemonade offers a three-second insurance claim payout. Metromile delivers a pay-per-mile car insurance for the modern driver. The problem is that the digital technology innovation that enables these great ideas needs to work well, but the joint research conducted by EXL and Harvard Business Review Analytics Services showed that two-thirds of companies aren’t seeing significant results from their digital transformation programs. 

The good news is that by embracing RPA, insurance companies have opportunities to leapfrog generations of technology advancements – and bypass the challenges of enterprise-wide implementation. Through automating back-end processes such as claims processing, underwriting and providing policy quotes, innovative insurance companies are now driving end-to-end transformation and positively impacting the customer experience. 

In fact, more insurance businesses are now combining sophisticated automation tools, such as Blue Prism’s RPA platform, with other disruptive technologies to help streamline their processes and remain competitive. 

Here are seven key outcomes that we are seeing being achieved with RPA: 

  1. Enhanced customer experiences by creating the ability to re-focus on service value. 
  2. Improved work experiences and increased productivity by reducing the dependence on labor-intensive, manual tasks performed by employees and re-aligning human capital on strategic activities.  
  3. Less cost required to scale and support projected growth, and reduced talent acquisition expenses. 
  4. Higher data quality achieved by eliminating human errors, and the ability to capture process data consistently. 
  5. Revenue uplift enabled due to faster product development and addressing missed revenue opportunities.
  6. Cost optimization achieved by increased capacity from automating activities that don’t add value.
  7. Improved process quality and reduced rework due to eliminating errors and improved SLA compliance. 

Prioritizing automation

To determine whether an automation initiative can deliver positive outcomes, insurers should consider following key legal, compliance, regulatory and IT areas: 

  1. Consider what business value can be achieved from the cost benefit, efficiency and effectiveness gains by automating a process. 
  2. Identify the degree of process complexity, standardization and repeatability.
  3. Consider technical requirements such as the number of systems and applications, latency, landscape and architecture. 
  4. Examine workflow requirements such as handoffs and interactions with other business units, as well as quality and compliance reviews.
  5. Establish implementation effort of existing levels of documentation. 
  6. Ascertain any legal, regulatory, or internal policies that prevent automation.

Good candidates for RPA

Once organizations are equipped with these insights, they can create a prioritized list of automation opportunities based on business value and ease of implementation. To find these opportunities, we typically recommend looking at the following five operational areas within an insurance business:

  1. New business - Improve straight-through processing and life insurance upgrades by combining Digital Workers, such as software robots, and social data to analyze patterns for refined underwriting strategy.
  2. Policy administration – Automate updates to personal bank details and reject or cancel policies with delinquencies by learning delinquency patterns. This can help insurers avoid policy drop outs.
  3. Claims – Automate FNOL submissions into various systems, and provide notifications to loss adjusters by continually assessing risk, predicting fraud and identifying thefts.
  4. Digital mailroom operations - Utilize optical character recognition (OCR) and intelligent character recognition (ICR) to digitize the hand written, semi-structured data to lower the cost of paper-based customer interactions.
  5. Cognitive virtual assistants – These can improve customer experience while lowering cost of operations and acquisition across voice, chat and social media channels.

RPA lessons and best practices 

Over time, we’ve identified some key insights from conducting many RPA projects. 

  • Benefits estimation: A common mistake is inappropriate benefit estimation, as RPA offers far more than cost savings. Think about other levers, such as scalability and top-line benefits, and figure out how to define and measure success. 
  • COE design: To ensure a smooth, focused transition, any RPA program must always be run as business-owned initiative while fully engaging IT, Security, Risk, HR and other functions.
  • Change management: This ensures there are documented RPA change management processes, controls, and support procedures, as benefit realization is often delayed without these.  From a human resources perspective, compensation programs must promote managerial and supervisory staff to adopt and leverage digital labor through changed compensation and incentive programs.
  • End-to-end process-driven lifecycle: Ultimately, RPA’s continued success is not about just adopting technology. It should be treated as a change agent, with management and ongoing governance for end-to-end process refinements and automation. 
  • Production rollout for scale: Set up your ITIL/ITSM environments such that your controls rooms are connected to your service delivery platforms. Regardless of the kind of ticketing your organization is running, having a robust alerting and controls mechanism is critical to deliver robotics at scale.

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