Robotization and artificial intelligence are revolutionizing the insurance industry: two Natixis Assurances experts, Karim Zemouli, Head of the Innovation and Client Experience department for Non-life insurance, and Philippe Pinault, Head of Strategy and Transformation of the operating model for Personal insurance, tell us about their solutions.
How can insurance heavyweights that deal with billions of euros each year tie up with insurtech start-ups that combine robotics and artificial intelligence?
Natixis Assurances is gradually introducing these new technologies into the day-to-day business of its distribution networks, Banque Populaire and Caisse d'Epargne, and into its own operational processes.
"The tech ecosystem does not just harbor technological potential that is compatible with our operations or an investment opportunity, it is a real example of swift implementation and innovation capabilities in the value proposition it offers clients: this is the reasoning behind the partnerships we have developed with incubator Euratechnologies and venture capital companies, as well as our membership of Finance Innovation. It's a matter of our corporate culture, to promote a more entrepreneurial approach in our business" notes Philippe Pinault, Head of Strategy and Transformation of the operating model for Personal insurance.
"Around fifty start-ups get in touch with us every year" states Karim Zemouli, Head of the Innovation and Client Experience department for Non-life insurance. "Initially, we took inspiration from their innovations, but now we think more about our ability to integrate their solutions into our ecosystem. It is possible in a reasonable timeframe? Do we have the resources to see this project through? If so, then we embark on constructive and responsible discussions. We organize a day of work to look into how to pursue this integration together. Working with start-ups requires a lot of discipline – they are often extremely specialized and skilled in a very precise area, such as voice recognition, or algorithms, etc. We cannot afford to make any mistakes when we are considering sharing skills and deciding to draw on these innovative technologies – our ultimate goal is client satisfaction."
A central system to adapt the subscription process to new requirements
Léa, or "L'Epargne Active" (Active savings), is a robo-advisor. This digital system was rolled out in summer 2018 to support advisors in the Banque Populaire and Caisse d'Epargne networks as they inform customers on financial savings products. "We work with fintech Gambit to adapt and digitalize the process of identifying the policyholder's needs and situation, their personal plans and risk profile, ahead of the subscription phase, while also complying with regulatory requirements as regard duty of advice" explains Philippe Pinault. "This system is shared with the asset management business line at Natixis, and is already being used to suggest an asset allocation strategy defined by an algorithm based on all this information. This is the result of a great deal of work on specifications with the solution provider, drawing on the financial management skills and product ranges in Natixis' asset management business."
Anna, the first chatbot
Other projects are also emerging in the company, such as Anna, which Philippe Pinault describes as "a virtual assistant developed by Zelros to help life insurance back office staff acquire new skills, answer clients' more technical questions more quickly and obtain information on their policy. For example, the policy manager may need to find out the date of a transaction on a life insurance policy, or what tariffs apply on a product or transaction, so the chatbot Anna – interfaced with policy management applications via API – retrieves the information that the employee needs.
Other projects are also conducted in cooperation with Zelros to automate the decision-making process on medical selection, by developing machine learning algorithms.
For the past year, we have also been working with Yseop, a French artificial intelligence company, which has developed language generation capabilities and helped us overhaul and automate the production of periodic reports for clients who have entrusted a management mandate to their banking advisor."
Insurtech supporting the client relationship: automatic callback and remote claims assessment
In the non-life insurance business, all claims require a great deal of responsiveness, and some cases – for example a climate event – lead to a surge in phone calls. "When we get involved, it is because there is a deterioration in our client's personal situation, so our aim is to manage this as quickly as possible" states Karim Zemouli. "Sometimes in the past the client would have had to call back, which leads to dissatisfaction, but now a robot takes over and puts the client in touch with a claims manager as soon as one is available. In the future, the client will even be able to choose a time slot to be called back. The start-up has helped us improve telephone access, and so far traditional insurers have not offered this type of service.
We are also working on our claims assessment processes. For example in the event of car damage, customers previously would have had to drop their vehicle at a garage, wait for an expert assessment, etc. but now the customer can download the remote claims "Expertise à distance" app, at no extra charge, and take photos of the vehicle, which he/she sends for assessment. We then receive a damage assessment report, so this avoids putting the vehicle off the road for a lengthy duration."
Natixis Assurances is also rolling out instant payment so that claims can be paid out immediately, reducing the timeframe from three or four days to just a few minutes. "Our clients are very pleased and the situation is much more comfortable for our staff too" notes Karim Zemouli, who concludes "insurtechs help us streamline the customer experience as they support us in making changes that are necessary and beneficial for all involved".