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Chatty bots answer the comp calls

Chatty bots answer the comp calls

Artificial intelligence is being deployed in the workers compensation sector to help free up some time for busy claim adjusters, allowing them to prioritize complicated claims and better meet the evolving demands of tech-savvy and time-crunched injured workers, according to experts.

A chatbot — either a computerized voice on the phone or an online chat with a computer — is being touted as an industry game-changer because it can provide answers to easy questions, without a claimant having to wait for a claims adjuster to return a phone call, experts say.

In turn, claims organizations can more readily address complicated issues that may arise in a workers comp claim because an adjuster’s time has been freed up by a robot handling the less complex, but necessary tasks common in insurance, according to experts.

Artificial intelligence is “taking people who were doing these manual, repetitive processes and moving them to more subjective tasks, more thinking tasks,” said Chris Griffith, St. Louis-based chief information officer for Safety National Casualty Corp.

Insurers can avoid costly problems by addressing more difficult claims first with an adjuster, who can spend more time on them rather than mundane tasks, he said.

“By 2020, 80% of carriers will have more than 20 robots doing manual, repetitive tasks,” Mr. Griffith said.

As of late 2018, many insurers and third-party administrators either have the technology in place or are working to bring artificial intelligence to comp payers, according to industry insiders. For example, Zurich Insurance Group is piloting a chatbots program across all lines to gather information early on claims, according to a spokeswoman.

Crawford and Co.’s third-party administrator Broadspire Inc. is gearing up to launch a chatbot program in 2019, said John Jakovcic, the company’s Atlantabased senior vice president of strategy and innovation.

“We see this as freeing up the adjuster’s time,” said Mr. Jakovcic. “This will allow adjusters to focus on adjudicating claims. If this can take 10 calls away from an adjuster, if someone is willing to get information from chat technology, this leaves time for the adjuster to deal with a more complicated claim.”

Chatbots, which can collect claims information at the onset of an injury, can also help adjusters prioritize claims, said Skip Brechtel, Metairie, Louisiana-based executive vice president and chief information officer for Cannon Cochran Management Services Inc., a third-party administrator launching its program this fall.

“We are utilizing this to pick out key information on calls that can go into an adjuster’s queue; (an adjuster) can then prioritize their callback to individual claims based on that information that comes in,” he said, adding that the technology focuses on key words that will alert an adjuster on whether a claim is at high risk, moderate risk or low risk for complications.

Mr. Brechtel’s firm tries to maintain a caseload of 125 claimants per claims handler, he said, adding, “this will help adjusters with early interventions. It’s a real game-changer in the industry.”

And while technology that helps answer simple questions, solve problems, and record claims information can make it easier on insurers and other claims organizations to manage their caseloads, a real drive is coming from the claimant side, experts say.

“This is all about giving us another channel for an injured worker or client to come in and ask a question,” said Mr. Jakovcic.

The consulting firm Accenture found that 74% of consumers say they would be happy to get computer-generated insurance advice, according to the firm’s 2017 Global Distribution & Marketing Consumer study.

In comp, the technology can help alleviate problems stemming from long wait times for simpler answers, experts say.

“(Historically) if a customer needs info they would call their adjuster and leave a message; what we are seeing now is that everybody expects that they can get information when they need it and in a seamless way and in a way in which they choose,” said Amy Carlisle, Boston-based vice president of claims transformation in global risk solutions at Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., which now offers its “insurance bot” program in the workers comp sector.

“We see (artificial intelligence) and bots helping us get information to claimants faster and allow them to receive the service they expect in a more digital age,” she said.

Common tasks that a bot can accomplish for Liberty Mutual claimants include checking claim status, electronic funds transfers, and authorizations, said Ms. Carlisle. “They don’t want to call us; they just want information,” she said.

“Customers and employees want the interactions to be meaningful and we very much see technology as an enabler and a resource for making the best of our people, the greatest asset in our claims operation, available,” said Ms. Carlisle. “(Adjusters) want to add more customer value. They see the enhancement and evolution of technology as helping them to do it.”

“We want to use people for the things that matter most,” she added.


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