Ian Thompson, Group Chief Claims Officer at Zurich Insurance Group, takes part in an exclusive interview with Rowan Thomson, TechNOVA’s content lead, exploring the game-changing impacts of AI within general insurance. Discover how AI can transform operations, enhance customer engagement and accelerate future product innovation:
How has AI had the biggest impact within traditional insurance operations?
Digitalization will transform the insurance industry. It is raising service expectations and brings the possibility for an entirely new relationship with customers – from the traditionally distant one; to one that adds real value into people’s lives. Although widespread, AI application is still rather limited. Where it is deployed it is a key enabler in driving speed of decision-making and delivering products and services faster with greater personalisation.
“Customers are increasingly expecting and receiving ‘hyper convenient’ services, which are personalized, anticipatory and instant.”
How do think AI and ML use cases will evolve over the next 5-10 years, and what can insurers do to stay ahead of the curve?
Customers are increasingly expecting and receiving ‘hyper convenient’ services, which are personalized, anticipatory and instant. To meet these demands, insurers will need to harness technology to innovate around the customers’ needs and wishes. This will require thinking beyond traditional products and providing greater focus on developing new services. For example, by working with startups and becoming more active in ecosystems that enable us to get closer to our customers.
What factors in AI do you feel are most overlooked by the insurance industry?
Without much doubt, it’s people. The industry must ensure it invests in a workforce capable of delivering a new suite of products and services in a digital age. Insurers will need to plan ahead to build people capability and culture that is equipped with the skills needed and more ready to adapt to an automated operating environment.
The industry must demonstrate good corporate citizenship by adding real value to the deepest challenges faced by all our stakeholders, such as climate change. Critically, insurers will also need to build trust with customers so they are confident their data will be used responsibly, securely and for their benefit in a digitalized, automated world.
“The industry must ensure it invests in a workforce capable of delivering a new suite of products and services in a digital age”
How is Zurich addressing the challenges that come from AI?
We’re already working with innovative companies throughout the world, such as Chicago-based Snapsheet. But to stay ahead of the curve, we are involved in a number of unilateral, bilateral and multi-stakeholder initiatives. For instance, we are harnessing our people’s talent and ideas with our internal initiatives called ‘Make the Difference’, and we’re tapping into the innovative power of startups with the Zurich Innovation Championships.
We also recognize that societal issues cannot be solved by sole actors or be left to governments. On issues such as cyber security and data responsibility, for example, we are working with the World Economic Forum.
But most importantly, we’re investing in retraining and up-skilling our employees and preparing them for the cultural shift that will come with new tools and new ways of working that are being introduced in this new digital era.
Ian is the Group Chief Claims Officer at Zurich Insurance Company Ltd. He has over 20 years of experience in General Insurance as well as Risk Control, Claims Leadership and Risk Management. Over the past years, Ian has been focusing on claims development with a passion to drive customer service performance. Ian will join our panel discussion, sharing his insight on a combined workforce.
Ian will be speaking at TechNOVA: AI in Financial Services taking place at America Square Conference Centre, London on 17 March 2020.