Read the interview with Thomas Dinhoff, CIO of the Norwegian insurance company, Eika Forsikring
Our employees want to spend more time on the customers rather than processing data in our back-end systems. We free them from the tedious tasks which allow them to do what’s fun and gives them joy; this ultimately benefits our customers.
Eika Forsikring is Norway’s sixth-largest insurance company with more than 220,000 customers. They offer a wide range of services to private customers, businesses, and agriculture. They are part of the Eika Group and have over 1000 certified insurance advisors focused on availability, personal support, and counseling. Eika Forsikring is passionate about creating an exciting workplace for their employees and wants to assure good customer experiences for new and existing customers.
Eika Forsikring has completed a successful POC in collaboration with the consultancy company KnowIt, where the goal was to utilize Simplifai’s AI-driven Digital Employees to handle and classify incoming inquiries and documents in claims handling. Great results from the POC laid the foundation for the AI solution that they will implement in the claims department.
Thomas Dinhoff Pedersen is the CIO of Eika Forsikring, and in this interview, he answers questions about their AI solution and why they chose Simplifai as their AI supplier.
Why is there such a great focus on artificial intelligence and automation in the insurance industry?
Is Artificial Intelligence a well-suited technology for insurance?
I think AI and automation technologies will eventually have a broad field of applications across many industries, with a positive influence on the overall society.
The insurance industry has worked on improving and automating their work processes for years. We have been affected by both legacy systems and heavy regulatory adjustments, which leaves us to carry out numerous manual processes.
We also have access to substantial data that we collect throughout our value chain. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technology are well suited to extract the value of this data. Now, I believe that we are in a position where technology has matured and become more available. This has increased our ability to deliver value through the collected data.
What type of data do you handle?
We handle a large amount of data along the whole value chain in pricing, underwriting, customer service, customer care, marketing, and claims handling.
It includes both structured data as well as significant amounts of unstructured data. We have structured data well under control in contrast to the unstructured data. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence are well-suited to address this matter.
Some companies are using web forms to structure inquiries from customers. Is there a need for a better solution to handle unstructured data?
It is a common mistake to burden the customer to structure the data for you; this we want to avoid. We want our customers to have the easiest possible customer journey, especially through our digital channels. They should not have to go through complicated processes that include clicking many buttons, doing comprehensive writing, and spending time and energy figuring out how to write. This is our job to solve, which of course requires investments, but in the end, it will result in a much better experience for the customer.
If we additionally can streamline the back-office tasks, it will lead to faster settlements and lower costs, thus allowing us to handle more cases.
What does Eika Forsikring want to achieve by using AI?
Our collaboration with Simplifai is focused on automating our claims settlement. We are at the beginning of a major digital transformation of our settlement function.
Initially, we will use Digital Employees to automate parts of the time-consuming work in our claims processes – tasks which our case handlers are manually doing today. Having the automation grade increased in our work processes reduces the case processing time and results in a better customer experience. Our primary goal is to improve the customer satisfaction.
We get more relevant and accurate settlements and can free up time for our case handlers. With the help of Digital Employees, our case handlers can spend more of their valuable time on customer care. Our employees can provide better customer service and use their knowledge in the more complex cases where humans are needed in the assessments.
With the help of Digital Employees, our case handlers can spend more of their valuable time on customer care.
Additionally, I believe that a robot makes fewer mistakes than a human, depending on the tasks you assign to it. We reduce the risk of human mistakes, and we will now be capable of handling a greater volume without having to increase the number of staff.
I also think it is also important that we increase the maturity of digital culture amongst the employees. I believe many of them will find the workday more fun and interesting, having new types of solutions and ways of working.
Our employees want to spend more time with customers rather than processing data in our back-end systems. We free them from tedious tasks which allow them to do what’s fun and gives them joy, ultimately benefiting our customers.
The POC-project with an AI-driven Digital Employee
A successful POC was completed at a record speed, did you expect that?
I am impressed by how quickly we could have such a sophisticated solution in place. This is a win-win situation for us. We have the data, and you have the solutions and the competence – together, it gives us the ability to create value from our data. This is a good example of an area where it would be inexpedient to build competence and solutions in-house.
In short, what will the Digital Employee do for Eika Forsikring?
The Digital Employee will relieve our case handlers by taking care of repetitive, tedious, and time-consuming tasks. I think our employees appreciate this because they can then spend more of their time on activities that create value and customer care.
The Digital Employee will relieve our case handlers by taking care of repetitive, tedious, and time-consuming tasks.
Can you tell us about the POC, what did you want to investigate?
Annually we process more than 70,000 claims in the claims department. In relation to these, we receive and process around 300,000 emails and documents of all kinds, such as police certificates, valuation reports, and so on. Today there is a vast variety of damage claims, documents, and content that must be manually read, interpreted, classified, and further processed in our systems as a part of the settlement process.
In the POC, we handled 19 different categories of documents in a relatively short amount of time. It was a diverse selection of documents that we typically receive in our claims department.
We wanted to investigate how smart the Digital Employees are and how many of our work tasks they can automate. We tested this on a broad and representative selection of our claim inquiries. Secondly, we wanted to see how the AI solution would fit into our comprehensive IT architecture and how easy it would be to implement and use.
Another important part of the POC project was to test how the collaboration was between Eika, you as an AI supplier, and the implementation partner Knowit, with a focus on your competence on the solution, privacy, and security, which are areas where we need to be compliant.
Both you and Knowit had a good, credible impression on us right from the start. I must admit that I’m positively surprised by the results. It was delivered as promised (and more) in a very short amount of time. The goal was to achieve a 70% automation grade, and we achieved way more. We also got a few other aspects confirmed, which we wanted to test through this collaboration.
I must admit that I’m positively surprised by the results. It was delivered as promised (and more) in a very short amount of time. The goal was to achieve a 70% automation grade, and we achieved way more.
In the POC, you used Emailbot and Documentbot which are two of our main off-the-shelf AI products. Simplifai also offers easy API integration. What do you think about integrating the solutions with back-end systems to achieve end-to-end automation?
To integrate these AI solutions with our systems is critical for us to get the maximum effect. The plan is to integrate Simplifai’s solution to our front-end systems and back-end applications to gain as much value as possible from the process automation.
We also have ongoing projects to fully automate the processes for completing claims settlements with simpler types of claims from A to Z, including direct and immediate payment to the customer.
I think your solutions are very future-oriented. It’s evident that they are based on modern technology and architecture and are well suited to be integrated with our systems through both modern and well-developed APIs.
How will the AI solution create value for Eika Forsikring?
How much time and resources are you able to free-up with a Digital Employee? And are there other benefits?
Based on the POC and the potential we see in further implementation of the solution, we can save a lot of time in case handling. We’ve calculated that the Digital Employee can save several FTEs, and the time saved can now be spent on other valuable work tasks.
However, our main purpose is not to save time by using the Digital Employee. The main advantage is the added value we can get by reducing the case processing time for the customer. And also the value that we get from spending the freed-up time on improved customer care and working on more complex cases.
A solution like this will also be a natural part of the process when we automate our claims handling and an important precondition to succeed with that.
Simplifai Studio is a user-friendly tool that makes it easy for our business resources to control the Digital Employees and train them so they can continuously handle an increasing number of tasks.
Simplifai’s solutions will be a part of our overall system architecture. Here we see a shared responsibility between the different systems to automate the processes from A to Z. Meaning; we will also be using other types of technology to automate greater parts of the processes where Simplifai will not have the scope.
We’ve calculated that the Digital Employee can save several FTEs, and the time saved can now be spent on other valuable work tasks.
Can the Digital Employee be useful in other departments as well?
Initially, we see the greatest potential in our claims processes; that’s where we put in a lot of effort and see that many tasks can be automated. There are other departments with large volumes of digital correspondence and inquiries where this technology can also be useful. Digital Employees may assist in customer support and other areas of customer service.
The choice of Simplifai as an AI supplier
What’s your impression of Simplifai as an AI company?
I think Simplifai is a forward-thinking and innovative company with great user-friendly AI solutions. And it’s particularly positive that you originated in the Norwegian market. We feel we understand each other on multiple levels, which is important to us while entering a partnership with a supplier.
Why did you choose Simplifai as your AI supplier?
We chose Simplifai because, in our opinion, the underlying AI technology appears to be market-leading.
Another reason was your strong ability to handle the Norwegian language, along with being user-friendly, which is rare to find in these types of text mining tools. I have come across plenty of text mining and analytical tools that often work fine in English but are lacking in other languages.
This, combined with a user-friendly and flexible solution that can be easily integrated with our systems and can be used as cloud-based services where security and privacy are also well taken care of, is very important to us.
We chose Simplifai because, in our opinion, the underlying AI technology appears to be market-leading.
What is your experience with other automation solutions?
My experience so far is that automation technologies often are relatively limited in their scope. They are based on simple, repetitive processes and preferably with the input of structured data. However, I believe that having good solutions for text and content analysis that also work well with the Norwegian language will increase the automation potential significantly. This can help us digitalize even more of the tasks that need to be done by a human today.
Security and GDPR
What is your view on Simplifais handling of Security and GDPR?
Security and privacy are areas where we need to be compliant. In these areas, we experience Simplifai as being very mature and proactive when it comes to both the solution and your competence.
We have had a very constructive dialogue. You have facilitated all our internal requirements, which is quite a few, and ensured they were all met. And I will dare to say, out of all suppliers we have worked with, Simplifai is one of the best in these areas.
Out of all suppliers we have worked with, Simplifai is one of the best in these areas.
How was it like to work with Simplifai and Knowit?
So far, it’s been a very positive experience to work with both Simplifai and our implementation partner Knowit. All parties have been competent and facilitated all our needs. It’s a pleasure working with partners who provide competent, clever, committed, and engaging people. This makes these projects fun, and I also believe we gain more value this way.
How was the solution received internally?
How did you “sell” this AI project to the management group?
Selling a Digital Employee in 2021 was not difficult.
We all agree that we still have too many manual processes in our routine work. Now we are primarily addressing document classification that involves heavy processing, and both the management and employees are aware of it. In this instance, it’s easy to present a solution that is understandable, forms a good business case, and is easy to set up and implement.
It isn’t difficult to understand what the Digital Employee will do because we know what the tasks are. The question is – how many tasks and overall work can a Digital Employee handle?
How important was it to involve stakeholders from the business side?
I think involving the business side in all technology and development projects is essential. In the end, it’s them who will understand the returns and know the processes in and out, and therefore be aware of how these processes can be improved.
Another point worth mentioning with Simplifai’s solutions is how easy it is to assign business resources as AI-trainers to develop further and manage the Digital Employees. In the future, we can improve the solutions ourselves without having to involve developers to do the job.
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