What's Happening?

Think Human-Technological Collaboration, Rather Than Robo-Advice



There is no doubt that the world of business and of insurance is changing fast.  Digitalisation is here to stay and it’s becoming a table stake within the insurance industry. Although the life insurance industry has been a slow adopter, it seems as if the momentum to develop tech-driven, streamlined underwriting and processing is picking-up. 

According to Accenture, many of the big insurers globally, are seen to be collaborating with Insurtechs in order to bring this new technology to their customers, faster and easier.   An example being MetLife: who has partnered with innovative start-ups such as SparkBeyond and Cogito to roll-out AI solutions in their claims division. 

In South Africa, insurers such as 1Life have developed their own app-based technology.  1Life Vantage is providing digital solutions to both financial advisers and clients alike, enabling the underwriting and acceptance of policies to be done faster, with ease and convenience.  

But what is the driving-force behind this AI-based technology?  In simple terms: 

  • a younger and more digitally informed consumer who wants to be able to choose the fastest, easiest and simplest processes and have more control over their choices;
  • financial-advisers who need faster and easier ways to secure new business:
  • overall pressure on fiscals, forcing insurers to review their processes and operations in order to distribute their product faster and more economically to consumers; and
  • recently, the Covid-19 pandemic and the issue of social distancing impacting the face-to-face advice-giving process. 

The consumer of today is much more tech-savvy than ever.  They are used to streaming, video-conferencing platforms, online shopping and the use of OTP pins serving as authenticator for remote acceptance, so why not incorporate some of these innovations into insurance? 

1Life Vantage, does exactly this. It doesn’t only provide straight-through underwriting in under 35 minutes, but is now also available on all smart devices and incorporates remote-acceptance via an OTP pin. This enables the financial adviser and client to maintain social distancing and at real time interaction. 

We foresee that remote-acceptance enablement will become even more important as we head into a possible second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. With social distancing becoming increasingly more important digital solutions such as 1Life Vantage that incorporates fast, easy and simple remote acceptance are already the future.    

The naysayers in the insurance industry might argue that not all clients or financial advisers are ready for this type of cloud-based insurance processing, but one has to realise that the client-seller interaction has expanded well beyond a face-to-face meeting or in-store transaction. Cloud-based solutions are now the order of the day. We see this especially being true in a post-Covid-19 era. In addition, one only has to look at how familiar the South African consumer has become with online banking, to know that non-digitisation, is not an option.

But if everything is being digitised, then what role is left for the financial adviser or any human for that matter?  

In a Swiss RE Sigma report from January 2020 on Data driven Insurance, they state that: “digital technology must be regarded as a tool or digital enabler; it’s not a holy grail or silver-bullet.  It will help to quickly and accurately identify what action should be taken, but sometimes that action will need to be taken by a person.  Those higher-value moments, whether in financial or emotional terms, where a customer will welcome the human touch, might be more easily identified by AI – but they aren’t ready to be outsourced to a robot as yet.” 

This statement is even more powerful if one considers the role of the financial adviser.  Many of us think “robo-advice” when we talk AI in the insurance world, but this should not be the case. As long as clients are going to want that human touch and are in need of higher-value moments, the tech will only function as an enhancer of the adviser’s existing value-proposition. So, think human-technological collaboration rather than robo-advice.