Eika Forsikring will use Simplifai’s AI-powered Digital Employees in claims handling
Eika Forsikring is a Norwegian insurance company committed to creating an exciting workplace for its employees while ensuring a good customer experience. Eika has carried out a successful POC in collaboration with the Norwegian consulting firm Knowit where the goal was to use Simplifai’s AI-powered Digital Employees to classify incoming inquiries and documents in the claims department.
Kristin Bjerkli is the Head of Claims at Eika Forsikring, an insurance company with 70 employees working with small and large businesses in the private, agricultural, and SME markets. She joined the company as a corporate lawyer in 2015 and held the role of data protection officer. Kristin places high importance on GDPR and has played a central role in this AI-project.
The claims department receives 300,000 emails and documents annually, and today spends a lot of time and resources classifying inquiries, assessing cases, and communicating with customers. Eika will use Simplifai’s Digital Employees to streamline their work processes to improve employee satisfaction and customer experience.
Simplifai interviewed Kristin about Eika’s AI-project, the challenge they want to solve, and much more. Read about their journey towards adopting business automation and the work done by Simplifai and the consulting partner Knowit, in this candid conversation with Kristin Bjerkli.
What made you choose an AI solution?
There are several reasons why artificial intelligence is well suited for Eika Forsikring and for the insurance industry in general.
We handle a lot of data so there is a sea of possibilities and a great number of work processes can be automated with artificial intelligence. A lot of people think about insurance as getting a settlement after an injury, or any other such event, but it’s so much more than that.
We at Eika are very interested in developing, and keeping an eye on what is happening, and want to stay ahead when it comes to new technology and trends. We focus heavily on customer experiences, task streamlining, and task automation. In the area where I have the main responsibility, which is claims, I have now been given the opportunity to improve the everyday life of customers and case handlers. It’s a win-win situation at both ends; when it gets easier for one, then it becomes easier for the other.
I believe that the desire to develop ourselves, combined with the fact that we have access to a lot of data makes artificial intelligence a very good option for us.
How will you use Artificial Intelligence in claims handling?
To begin with, we will use artificial intelligence to classify incoming inquiries and documents. We want help with this so that we can prioritize correctly to a greater extent. We receive around 300,000 emails and documents every single year, and as of today, handling these inquiries is a manual process. We see the header of the emails, but we must open the email itself and documents to assess what it is and then prioritize its importance. It certainly is time-consuming, and we receive many urgent inquiries from customers that we should address immediately.
Streamlining and improving prioritization and classification will be in the best interests of our customers. We can prioritize helping those who need urgent assistance, and devote more time towards handling cases instead of assessing customers’ needs.
I think we’ve just scratched the surface on what’s possible – and there’s a lot of potential beyond that. We are excited to get started and will continue to challenge ourselves over time.
How will the solution add value for Eika Forsikring?
At Eika, we want to appear competent, professional, and efficient, and I believe that this type of technology contributes to that. We think about savings on a larger scale than just man-hours. Making money is largely about having satisfied employees and good customer experiences. A good reputation is important, and makes it easier to sell insurance. If we manage to create a good customer experience, it will help us retain customers over time.
This project has led us to look at several efficiency measures, and we have calculated various tasks that consume a lot of time. The fact remains, that despite extensive development in business automation, today there still are some time-consuming, repetitive, and manual tasks such as classification of documents, understanding and interpreting cases, and communicating with customers.
We receive many similar inquiries with questions about the status of cases and expected answers. This has to be handled manually today where we answer each individual inquiry when it comes in. There is a lot of work here that can be advantageously automated.
These tasks are also not the most engaging for employees. We want our employees to have exciting workdays and make their work appealing. By automating time-consuming and repetitive tasks, everyday life becomes more meaningful and employee satisfaction improves, thus reflecting positively on the customers.
How will the solution create value for customers?
We receive many different types of claims. Some cases such as a personal injury or house damage require that we are hands-on, the customer may need to talk to us over the phone or meet us physically. Sometimes, when personal dialogue is not as important, as in cases where the customer has lost their mobile phone, they are often only interested in getting the settlement. Here we want to get the task done efficiently and out of the way so that we can generate ample up-time for processing the cases where the customer is in need of dialogue. We want to eliminate tasks that don’t require us to be actively involved as quickly as possible. This solution will help us achieve these goals.
What did you want to investigate in the POC?
One of our main challenges is that we receive a wide range of different inquiries and documents. We obtain copies of invoices, medical certificates, police documents, communication across insurance companies, receipts, and so on. Some inquiries and documents are unstructured or written by hand, while others are more in a standardized format. With different types of documents, we were concerned whether the solution would be able to classify them or not.
What were your expectations about the POC and how were the results?
We had heard a lot of good things about Simplifai beforehand and had high expectations of what you could achieve. We had some doubts about whether you could meet the high expectations, but when we finished the POC, the results were even better than the goals we had set.
Our employees were impressed by the solution with its advantages of being easy to understand and user-friendly. In addition, we have received some tips and inspiration for improvements in-house that can help us standardize our work processes.
The goal of the 3-week POC was to identify and classify at least 70% of the documents included. We split it up according to type of documents, and in many cases we were able to reach over 90%.
There were a couple of categories with less accuracy, but here we discovered that we had the potential for internal improvement. It turned out that not all departments performed tasks in the same manner, and we found something that could be standardized, which we have already incorporated. Now we are above 80% on almost everything and over 90% on many of these. We tested a wide range of documents, and the results were fantastic.
The POC period was limited, so there were not many weeks at our disposal to handle everything we have done. But I think we managed to execute it with incredible assistance from Simplifai and Knowit throughout the weeks of testing. We got excellent results that impressed both the management team and the board.
Why did you choose Simplifai?
We chose Simplifai as the supplier because we have heard a lot of good things about you beforehand. Based on the references we had, we knew that the quality you say you deliver, you actually do. We chose to go to the best one out there.
But it wasn’t just the technology that we rested our decision on. It’s one thing for a supplier to have good technology that is constantly evolving, and it’s another to have someone who understands our needs. We value this very highly.
So, because we knew the technology was good, and had references of others having successful collaborations with you in the past, it was an easy choice for us. Later, when we also got to know you and your partners better through the POC, we were sure that here we will have a partner who really wants us to succeed.
What makes Simplifai’s AI solutions unique?
In claims handling, we process a lot of sensitive data, and we are committed to processing that data well, thus placing high demands on our suppliers. We spend a lot of time mapping how solutions are set up and what responsibilities suppliers take. It is safe and good for those of us who are very concerned with data to know that it is being looked after in a proper way. Simplifai has really impressed us in this area.
What processes did go through to ensure the AI-solution follows GDPR?
I joined Eika Forsikring in 2015 as a company lawyer and previously, I was working as a data protection officer, therefore making it important to me that whatever I handle, it is done properly. We have had a project in Eika Group related to handling GDPR ever since the new legislation came in, and after the Schrems ruling last year, we have worked a lot to map out our suppliers and assess them against the regulations. A massive job has been carried out here under the auspices of the Eika Group, which has made requirements to us, when in need of deliveries from external suppliers.
I must commend the Eika Group for their ability to look ahead and grasp new technologies in a very proactive way. We can’t put all developments on hold because something is unclear. We have had a dialogue with the Financial Supervisory Authority of Norway (FSAN) also related to the outsourcing and handling of that bit.
FSAN is a good advisor and provides us with assistance and guidance when we are wondering what we must deal with, by adhering to guidelines related to outsourcing. We were able to carry out a successful POC because they were involved in many areas. This is very propitious and allows us to also deliver good clarifications and reports to the FSAN later when we are about to start implementing.
It’s important to have all the formalities in order. When we have it, which I find that we have here, a lot is done in terms of creating security in the organization that everything is well taken care of.
How was the AI-project perceived internally?
New things are always exciting but can also be perceived as daunting. People have different views and perspectives on what Artificial Intelligence is. Will it take over our jobs? Will we lose control? But whenever we’ve presented this project in management meetings and the board, it’s been received as something exclusively positive. This has been presented as the coolest thing Eika is doing now. In Eika Forsikring we like to stay ahead and are curious about new things so we have success stories to show for others to pick up.
Internally, I’ve explained what we’ll use the technology for, why we’re doing this, and the results. It was not a given that we’d be allowed to continue after a POC if it didn’t succeed. But since we’ve taken up this gradually in a step-by-step manner, it’s been possible to show results along the way and then there is the thumbs-up from everyone. For this project, I have received applause for the successful POC and the solution has been graciously accepted.
Was support from the IT department vital for this project?
It was important to have the IT department with us from the very beginning, to make sure the new technology could be paired with existing solutions. I did not have to work against them, on the contrary, they were in all the way, which was a great strength. They could’ve easily said they wanted to solve this differently, but this was something we needed, had to test, and get started with – so no more waiting.
With a proactive IT department, and especially a forward-leaning IT director in-house who’s been by my side, we’ve successfully pushed this together. So internally I’ve not met any resistance, only receptivity. It’s very cool to take on these deliveries when everyone is cheering; this makes it fun to go to work. I’m extremely proud that we were allowed to go ahead with this project in my department.
How was the Digital Employee welcomed in your department?
The Digital Employee has been embraced with open arms. It has been unconditionally positive feedback! The staff looks at this as an opportunity to get more exciting work tasks. They have been a part of its training and can call themselves AI-trainers, which they think is cool. I’m experiencing a lot of positivity and enthusiasm among the team who enjoy new challenges and don’t look at this as a threat to their own job.
Nobody in the claims department has expressed any negative feelings or lack of faith in the project. And I’m sure that the solution will create a better workday for everyone when it is implemented, which has been our main goal from the beginning.
Here at Eika Forsikring, there’s no talk about the number of FTE’s in this project, and that’s not where the motivation lies. What’s motivating us is to create great customer experiences and workdays for our case handlers and to free-up time for developing our co-workers.
All my co-workers are customer-focused and passionate about them having a good experience with us. With a Digital Employee, the customer will not only receive an immediate response but also an answer we can trust. This gives us security about the customer being taken care of the way we want.
How important was Knowit as an implementation partner in this project?
We have been working with Knowit previously, so we knew we were collaborating with great suppliers that we want to be associated with. There’s been a good dialogue with them before in other areas and they were quick to tell us about suppliers that could give us value.
My experience is that this has been a good entry for us, and since we had experience with Knowit from before including good references, we had this extra security while picking a partner.
It’s important to collaborate with people you trust and have confidence in. There should be a good solution at the bottom line, but you should also be able to trust that your partners have your interest at heart. This, I believe we have achieved with the combination we’ve had through preparations and the POC; therefore, we’re looking forward to cooperating further with Knowit and Simplifai.
I am happy to work with people who are so genuinely interested in delivering good projects, it makes the workday fun and I’m thrilled that I got a thumbs-up for this project.
Do you see more opportunities for automation?
We see a huge potential in how we can benefit from Simplifai’s and Knowit’s competence and skills. I’m sure we’ll get the opportunity to utilize the technology on a larger scale. I also see a potential in streamlining further within the area of personal injury. For example, by using this technology to guide the case handler in review of documents, prioritizing cases could save a lot of time and contribute to a more efficient settlement standard.
Thomas Dinhoff Pedersen is the CIO of Eika Forsikring. In this interview, you can read why AI is well-suited for the insurance industry, the choice of AI solution, and why they chose Simplifai as the supplier.
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