Digital Insurance Agenda

The Human Side of Automation in Insurance

Written by Roger Peverelli and Reggy de Feniks - Founders The DIA Community on Dec 28, 2022

In insurance, there is a lot of potential for automation. But when adopting this automation, structures and roles will change within an organization. For insurers, it is important to identify the human skills that are likely to be needed in the future. We sat down with Fei Ling Woon, Head of Robotics at insurance company MS Amlin to talk about their automation journey, the human side of automation in insurance, and their collaboration with UiPath.

Fei, tell us a bit more about yourself and how you started working with UiPath technology

At the beginning of my career, I was passionate about computing and automation. I wanted to learn about programming and ended up doing a computer science degree and higher degrees, instead of business management studies.  A few years ago, I was introduced to UiPath products and realised that RPA and Intelligent Automation have a lot of potential. If we get this right, it’s going to give us some real breakthrough improvements, which we have already started seeing. Having the right technology in place is crucial, but that is not everything you need to be successful with your automation projects, you need to consider the human side of automation too.  I’m really proud to be here to share with you my thoughts and learnings.

Today we are talking about the human side of automation in insurance. What do you mean by that?

There’s a lot of potential for automation in the insurance industry. I see process automation as a catalyst for change, as you have to define every step, every single detail in step-by-step instructions of what you want the robot to do. When you want to automate a process, you start asking questions about your existing business rules and controls. Often you’ll find that some of the existing business rules might not be relevant anymore, possibly due to documentation not being up to date or people having been doing things in a certain way. This is how they’ve been trained when they first joined the company and they’ve been doing that for years and stopped asking the question “why”. So to automate processes you really need to understand why and how things are done at the lowest level. What I mean by that is that automation is concerned with the data flows, and understanding of what, why, and how data gets processed. This goes beyond the process level and as a result, you end up re-engineering your process because you want to make sure that your operational issues are being dealt with by the right people and that any repetitive, manual tasks can be delegated to your digital workforce.

It’s not just the processes that are changing, but people’s roles are changing and the structure that you see today is going to be very different in the future, even more so with the growing digital workforce. Companies will likely start assessing and classifying jobs and processes, trying to determine the appropriate level of humans involved and automation activities for each role. As they want to attract talent and retain talent, it’s important to identify skills that are likely to be needed in the future and start upskilling their teams.

What are the drivers for automation at MS Amlin?

We are no different from other insurance companies. Our drivers for automation are about capacity creation, streamlined and consistent processes, better control, data accuracy, and increased employee satisfaction. 

In the nearest future, employee satisfaction and retention are going to stand out to be the real differentiators. This is especially true in the insurance industry because finding talent is a big challenge. If you want to make your company the place to attract and retain talent, you need to create an environment that allows them to flourish, that allows them to focus on higher-value activities, and helps them to develop their careers and potentials. I definitely think that automation can help us to achieve that.

How do you measure the success of your automation initiatives?

We measure success by looking at the capacity creation per bot, the tangible side of  benefits. We also look at the non-tangible benefits by looking at our customers’ feedback, i.e., whether our solutions are robust and reliable. We learned that our solution is ranked highly in our IT landscape. Customer experience is a really key measure that shows whether we are on track and whether we’re delivering the right services and solutions to our clients.

So where do you start the automation journey?

You should start from a holistic view. Before we automate a process, we always consider the impact of change upstream and downstream, the impact on the people, process, system landscape, and data. The objective is to make sure that we develop robots from a holistic view with the end-to-end process in mind so that the robots that we build will be fit for purpose and maximizes the values of automation.

Also, it is important to set up an advocacy network and identify champions across different management levels; people at the top, mid-level management as well as operational level. Successful automation does not belong to the automation team alone. There are several critical success factors automation is heavily reliant on. To ensure that we have the right infrastructure to support our run, we have to work with IT development operation and infrastructure experts, operational excellence and CTO teams, etc.

Can you share an example?

We developed a policy renewal bot to support our underwriters by automating some of the renewal process tasks. Initially, people saw this as a tactical solution and they tried to replace it but then realized that it’s actually a very complex solution. That is why I see UiPath as a blank canvas. It’s a toolkit, but the toolkit itself does not solve your business problems. You need to bring together those who know your business, and combine that with your change management and technical knowledge to build innovative solutions.

This example shows how we brought everything together to support our underwriting team by automating some of their manual processes. Initially, the solution was delivered to one specific office location and that was a few years ago, and with the success that we got they’d decided to roll out the robot to other offices as well.

Fei Ling Woon, Head of Robotics at MS Amlin
The RPA Team at MS Amlin

Check out the full recording of the interview with Fei Ling Woon here.

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