With technology giants like Facebook and Microsoft announcing their own versions of the bot framework and services, chatbots are experiencing a kind of rebirth. Even though chatbots have been in existence since 1950s, Credence Research predicts growth greater than $88.3 million over the next 7 years across three million apps.

Today’s consumers are spending more time in messaging apps, so much so that that the usage of messaging apps has surpassed the usage of social networks. What role do chatbots play?

A chatbot for everything

Chatbots are basic artificial intelligent programs that interact with people through messaging apps like Messenger or Kik. Chatbots exist in virtually everything. Their avatars generate and send personalized news. Flight assistant bots can help book tickets. Shopper bots help you shop products, and cooking bots offer recipe ideas based on search history.

Additionally, these bots have extended their relevance in a business context. Organizations are embracing them to provide customer support services, work as knowledge assistants, and function as business advisors.

Insurers are early adopters of chatbots

As with other industries, insurers have started exploring the usage of chatbots to increase customer touchpoints.  Allie, Nienke and Arbie are a few online assistants employed by Allianz, Nationale Nederlanden and RBC Insurance respectively to answer basic queries from their customers.

helps millennials save money For example, USAA launched a free savings coach app that helps millennials save money by tracking their spending habits. In a four month pilot program, 800 participating USAA members in the age group of 18 – 24 collectively saved close to $120,000.

In addition, Insurer LV’s insurance broker division implemented Nuance’s Nina, a virtual assistant to communicate with its broker partners in the UK. The intelligent virtual assistant possesses extensive knowledge of the products. The bots allow brokers to self-serve, by receiving assistance on a wide range of tasks like answering questions and uploading or downloading information. The bots help increase the consultant’s productivity by allowing them to concentrate on more complex queries.

Recently, UK based startup Spixii created an automated insurance agent bot that enables them sell policies via mobile chat applications. Similar to chatting on WhatsApp, the user is asked questions about their needs and is then offered an appropriate product without having to fill out long forms.

Because Spixii converses in simple jargon-free language and provides contextual information on products and services, it opens up an entirely new distribution channel and makes it far easier to buy insurance.

Use cases for chatbots today

Below are some use cases where chatbots can be deployed across the insurance value chain.

  1. Sales and Marketing: Bots can be used to launch campaigns to support an insurer’s new products or service offerings and market their brand.
  2. Pre-Sales: Bots can be deployed to educate the customers on insurance products and services. Bots can help improve financial literacy or spread awareness on living a healthy lifestyle.
  3. New Business from Chatbots: Bots can help by obtaining quote information and binding a quote, which can automate the sale of a new policy.
  4. Underwriting: Bots can assist the underwriter with their daily tasks.
  5. Claims: Bots can help in proactively registering the first notice of loss. (Trov, an on-demand insurance platform, uses automated chatbots to register claims by sending a text.) Also, bots can help the field adjuster in planning his route while visiting the insured’s location or an accident location. They can schedule the survey appointment for the appraiser to assess the damages. In addition, bots can aid in providing loss prevention recommendations, arranging emergency assistance during accidents, and they can offer pre and post disaster assistance.
  6. Customer Service: Bots can engage in a natural conversation with the customer to help them understand the coverage details better. They help the customer choose the right products and tailor them to their specific needs. They answer customer inquiries on specific policies or claims and come in handy when updating contact details. They can also remind customers about renewals and payments that are due.

Chatbots are here for the long haul

Chatbots are here to stay. They can prove very helpful to insurance organizations by helping them achieve more effective customer engagement, help explain complex products, improve sales and distribution, and enable quick and contextual access to information. The bottom line is they can improve employee productivity by letting them focus on the activities that matter.

Are you using chatbots in your business? Let me know.

Akila Narayanan

Akila Narayanan

Akila is a Senior Manager with the InsuranceNext Innovation Group at Cognizant Technology Solutions.