by Christelle Colman


Artificial intelligence (AI) is defined as the ability for an instrument or tool to make sense of a problem or a set of data with a level of accuracy and in far less time than a human being can solve it. AI is already adding immense business value in terms of the provision of assistance services, enabling faster and more accurate responses, which is critical in emergency situations and can literally mean the difference between life and death.


Due to the fact that telematics monitoring is almost standard in most vehicles these days, it is possible for AI to track the exact location of a car and automatically dispatch emergency assistance, should it be determined that an accident has taken place. Furthermore, the future use of driverless cars will integrate seamlessly into assistance centres, with AI diagnosing the problem and then digitally dispatching assistance, should it be deemed necessary.

It is also becoming widely accepted that AI will be able to generate unique policies for each customer, based on their preferences and risk profile. AI-enabled assistance services will be able to render assistance services to these products without the risk of getting tied up between the different policy exclusions and limits.

When we look at what is happening in the insurance industry currently, it is clear that it is in its Fourth Industrial Revolution. The traditional insurance model is under threat, more and more from small disruptive tech start-ups offering a solution without the administrative burdens. Globally and in South Africa, there is a trend towards digitalisation in the insurance sector using AI.

A good example of a success story is US-based Lemonade, where fintech is used throughout the process, from taking out the policy on a digital platform to submitting a claim using an application, with the claims bot managing a series of checks before settling the claim instantly. The cost of a traditional insurer to manage administrative tasks, the assessment, anti-fraud and payment processes take longer and is far more expensive and less effective. The global insurance sector is seen as an industry slow to change and transform, so it is a key area of focus for managers in the sector to transform their organisations for the future and AI will most definitely be a part of this.

Assistance services are leading the digitalisation process in many ways as the innovation hubs of the industry. Traditional insurers are often slow to adapt to new technologies and the assistance companies are often the source of new innovations just like these. In many of the countries around the world, the assistance process is totally digitalised from start to finish. In these instances, no human intervention is required and the quality of the service is close to being guaranteed as top class.

Our colleagues in Europe, for example, are in the advanced stages of using AI to digitalise service offerings. Countries like Italy and Spain, for example, can handle assistance cases without any human intervention. This includes the call being taken by a virtual agent capable of understanding human language and navigating through the complexities of various European accents. The results of this process is almost 100% satisfaction from customers.

One of the issues related to the adoption of AI is the risk of the breach of security. This will remain one of the key risks associated with any digitalised organisation. In global news, there are many instances where security breaches are still taking place and no organisation is immune to these attacks. More still needs to be done to ensure the safety of information and the sustainability of digital services.

Many people do feel slightly threatened by AI as they fear their jobs may be lost to robots but this is not the case. Many centuries ago, Greek philosophers documented that change is inevitable. The same is still true today. It has almost become impossible to predict the types of jobs that the children born during this current age will be doing in the future as they may perform jobs that do not even exist at this point in time.

Change is here and it is moving at an ever increasing pace. AI will enhance human employment as it will ensure that the tasks that humans fulfil in the future will be focused on adding value and enhancing the customer’s experience. Machines will also not replace all human involvement, it would really just focus the human effort on adding as much value as possible while removing some administrative activities and freeing up their time to find ways to add more value.

With change happening so quickly, companies need to reinvent and improve ways of operating in order to survive and flourish. It is also important for employers to realise that employees will be attracted to organisations that utilise AI.

Working in a creative and relevant organisation will contribute to employee engagement, with positive momentum being the catalyst for business growth. 

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