IBM Watson to pick up Australian slang to fast-track Suncorp insurance claims

Suncorp has adopted IBM Watson for its online claims system, in order to process over half a million motor claims a year and better determine liability. The technology is being used across Suncorp’s Personal Insurance brands comprising AAMI, Suncorp, GIO, and Bingle.

With IBM Watson’s Natural Language Classifier, the system analyses customer descriptions of motor vehicle accidents often written in a conversational way. IBM said that Watson will thus need to adapt to include colloquialisms and Australian slang.

Watson makes the decision depending on how detailed the claim’s description is, and in the case of limited information, the claim is routed to a human to help with the decision. According to Suncorp Insurance CEO Gary Dransfield, the number of fast-tracked customers has tripled since its Watson’s introduction in June this year.

“This technology augments our claim consultant’s knowledge and expertise, providing data-driven insights and instilling greater confidence in our liability decisions. It has also helped us speed the process for our customers, while improving their experience at a time that’s often very stressful,” Dransfield said in a statement.

The Insurance CEO said that the use of this tech will result in a more consistent approach to liability decisions, as Suncorp Watson establishes reference points based on historical claims and industry guidelines. The AI’s training included 15,000 de-personalised claim scenarios and the resulting liability determination, in line with guidelines from the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA), which Watson could accurately succeed in around 90% of cases.

The company’s AU$394 million after-tax profit for the 2017 financial year wasn’t as high due to the investment in its core banking system transformation, contracted by Oracle. “It will actually cost us a little less, it will de-risk the operations from a customer perspective, and for us it means running two systems for a period of time,” the Suncorp’s CEO Michael Cameron said.

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