4 Ways Conversational Artificial Intelligence Enhances Insurance Services and Sales

When it comes to answering quick insurance queries, conversational AI leads the charge in usability and ease.
By: | November 9, 2022

Engaging with insurance companies doesn’t typically rank among customers’ favorite activities. That’s because they often associate it with long hold times, automated menus and being sent to various departments to have their questions answered.

What if there were a better way?

A type of artificial intelligence called conversational AI may be the answer.

What Is Conversational AI?

Conversational AI is a subset of artificial intelligence that enables machines to interpret and respond to natural human language.

Instead of saying single words while engaging with an automated system or chatbot, people could use full sentences, such as “Could you help me file a claim?” or “I’d like to purchase a policy.” Those exchanges flow easily and without consumer frustration.

Unlike previous technologies, conversational AI can usually understand variations in phrasing. Someone could ask to “purchase insurance” or “buy a policy” and the system would recognize both requests.

Many conversational AI applications within and outside of the insurance sector are chatbots. Some are stand-alone options, while others work inside popular applications, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

However, conversational AI also extends to smart speaker skills that give people information in response to specific voice commands.

The insurance sector was not historically an early adopter of conversational AI. However, that’s starting to change.

Here are some specific ways the industry has deployed it.

1) Making Quote Comparisons and Sales More Efficient

Figuring out which provider offers the best coverage for the most reasonable price has gotten progressively easier. That’s largely due to online quote comparison tools. They allow a potential customer to input a few basic details, then get information about the most appropriate options.

Confused.com is a quote-comparison website based in the United Kingdom. It has an Amazon Alexa smart speaker skill that lets people find affordable insurance quotes with just one voice command.

Tests indicated users could have quotes sent by email or read out to them by the device.

However, people should remember a few things before experimenting with the skill. First, they need a Confused.com account for the quote comparison to work. They can only get information on vehicles currently associated with their website accounts, not new ones.

Plus, some users may see it as a downside that they still need to use a separate website or app to purchase the policy.

Getting quote information could be a bit faster if done by voice. However, this particular solution still requires people to use other options to move forward with buying insurance.

2) Providing a Continuous Communication Thread

If someone picks up the phone to start a conversation with an insurance representative, they typically can’t resume communicating with that same individual later.

Many conversational AI applications do allow for that, especially if they work through widely used messaging platforms such as WhatsApp. Asynchronous communication happens between parties not present at the same time.

It’s an important feature, especially since AI and human agents may not resolve every insurance query immediately or on the first attempt. Imagine a case where someone is interacting with a chatbot to file an insurance claim but has to interrupt the exchange to tend to a sick child.

Statistics indicate that 20% of messages are reopened within 72 hours. Some conversational AI solutions can analyze entire transcripts of exchanges. They then determine if someone’s reply includes a new question or a continuation of an earlier conversation.

SBI General Insurance, headquartered in Mumbai, India, recently launched a conversational AI platform based in WhatsApp that enables users to purchase policies, renew existing ones, review relevant insurance documents and more. Everything happens directly on the platform, making it easy for people to look back at or resume the conversation later.

3) Giving People More Confidence About Post-COVID Travel

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted travel like nothing else before it. Fortunately, vaccines are now widely available in many parts of the world, and doctors know more about how to treat the virus.

That means a COVID-19 diagnosis is usually not as dire as it once was. Those are big reasons why many people feel ready to plan and take leisure and business trips.

Risks still exist, but individuals are usually better equipped to face them if they have relevant information.

Southern Cross Travel Insurance, which serves the New Zealand market, responded by creating a chatbot in anticipation of the return to travel in a post-COVID world.

The chatbot, called Scout, is designed after a kea, a type of parrot found in parts of New Zealand. The insurance company’s executives felt it was particularly important to give customers resources as they traveled throughout various time zones and parts of the world.

People can chat with Scout 24/7. The chatbot also enables users to engage in a live chat with the customer service and claims teams during business hours.

Company representatives indicated the chatbot would also free human representatives to handle more complex queries. They estimated Scout would eventually tackle at least 20% of the questions, with the overall percentage rising as algorithms improve through use.

4) Offering Pertinent Information in an Accessible Format

Sometimes, people have insurance-related questions that are relatively straightforward. They might want to know if their home insurance covers a burst pipe or if they can drive in another country on their current automotive policy.

Perhaps these customers want to add a named driver or know the steps associated with making a claim.

Conversational AI can usually excel at these kinds of queries.

Some companies have made smart speaker skills to help. Many customers find them ideal, especially when they want to obtain relevant information efficiently.

People don’t always have time to sit at the computer or scroll through help documentation on their smartphones. Similarly, many would rather avoid making phone calls to get such seemingly simple information.

Many households have smart speakers wherever people spend the most time, such as their living rooms. That makes it easy to utter a command with minimal or no disruption.

They can get the desired information rather than guessing or making assumptions.

Conversational AI Assists the Insurance Sector

These are only some of the many ways to apply conversational AI in insurance businesses.

As more firms experiment with what’s possible, other insurance companies will likely follow suit. &

Shannon L. Flynn is a business tech and cybersecurity writer based in Philadelphia, Penn. She can be reached at [email protected].

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