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2018 Innovation Awards: Workers Compensation Automation

2018 Innovation Awards: Workers Compensation Automation

Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.

Automation is a popular buzzword these days, but Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. is applying the concept to the core of its operations, using robotic process automation to transform its back-end functions in an effort to help its workers compensation policyholders get a better handle on claims costs and speed up coordination with injured workers.

The insurer’s transformation team was looking for ways to become more efficient and had no idea what robotics was or whether it could be of value when it started exploring options, but was “pleasantly surprised” about the extent to which the technology could be used to optimize its workforce, particularly when it came to repetitive tasks, said Gary Hutchins, manager of strategic development for the insurer in Norton, Massachusetts.

“This technology is all about acceleration,” he said. “We process a couple of hundred thousand workers compensation claims a year, and the goal of this project was to make sure that our adjusters could respond to those claims … start investigating, reach out to the injured worker to make sure they understand what the process is, reach out to our customers to do their investigation, reach out to brokers and coordinate activities.”

Using robotics process automation, the insurer was able to reduce the time devoted to processing and assigning new claims to adjusters from four hours to mere minutes, Mr. Hutchins said.

“Customers don’t often appreciate the fact that you have to execute on an assignment or a process step,” he said. “They’d much rather see our human capital engaging with them, engaging with their injured workers, engaging with their medical providers.”

Liberty Mutual and third-party administrator Helmsman Management Services LLC successfully processed 14,300 claims over a three-month period with an accuracy of 99.9%, lowering total claims costs, according to the insurer, which was auditing all the work being performed by the bots to ensure they were achieving the expected outcomes.

“We work in a world that’s heavily regulated, so accuracy is critical to us,” Mr. Hutchins said. While people make mistakes — usually unintentionally — “bots don’t. They’re very predictable in the way they do their work, but it’s about finding the right work for them. This is about process automation. When there’s a decision to be made about a claim, we still have our adjusters doing that. We don’t have bots doing that.”

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