This interview is part of our new AI in Insurance series, where we interview the world's top thought leaders on the front lines of the intersections between AI and insurance.
In this interview, we speak with Chad Hawkinson, Senior Vice President, Data and Analytics at Vertafore. to understand how his company is using AI to transform insurance, and what the future of the insurance industry holds.
1. What’s the story behind Vertafore?
CH: With more than half a million insurance professionals throughout the United States using Vertafore solutions, its mission is to empower the insurance industry by providing exceptional service and powerful technology to help its customers build strong, trusted relationships with their customers and grow their businesses.
Vertafore lives by the belief that insurance is about relationships, and technology should make those relationships stronger. Vertafore aims to enable its customers to innovate and efficiently scale their businesses through deeper access to information and insights, while maintaining compliance and the highest levels of security. Vertafore is working to transform the way the insurance industry operates by putting people at the head of insurance technology. By focusing on customers and delivering results they can see, Vertafore provides the level of trust and security that insurance is all about.
2. Why and how did Vertafore begin?
CH: Vertafore was established in 1969 as a company called Agency Records Control (ARC). Amidst the changing technological landscape, Vertafore changed with the times and shifted its focus from product to market-focused segments. Now, Vertafore is the leader in modern insurance technology offering comprehensive insurance management software solutions that allow participants in the insurance distribution channel to adapt to an evolving insurance industry by efficiently scaling their businesses through deeper access to information and insights.
Along the way, Vertafore acquired QQ Solutions, rounding out its status as the largest and most complete portfolio of Agency Management and Rating solutions for the independent insurance channel. Swerving once again with the digital landscape, Vertafore acquired RiskMatch, a business intelligence and analytics company that provides industry-leading portfolio management and placement solutions to insurance brokers and carriers.
Today, its platform features fast innovation, partnerships with leading technology companies and customizable solutions to help companies remain independent during a time of industry disruption. As the leader in modern insurance technology with the largest customer base in the industry, Vertafore connects every point of the distribution channel, from agencies and carriers to MGAs, MGUs and state governments.
3. Please describe your use case and how Vertafore uses artificial intelligence:
CH: Rather than serving as a threat to the industry, AI is redefining what’s possible for insurers by shifting the focus away from manual tasks to what matters most — richer customer relationships.
Artificial intelligence is creating an opportunity to build smarter workflows across the distribution channel so customers can focus on what matters most: relationships. AI is enhancing what companies and humans are capable of, especially when it comes to customer experience.
For example, chatbots are being leveraged across support teams to extend the level of service provided. Vertafore’s own AI chatbot, VICKI, was implemented in 2018 to improve hold times. Since VICKI’s introduction, hold times have improved by 91 percent and customer satisfaction has increased exponentially.
Vertafore is working with the Amazon ML Solutions Lab to build new and enhanced existing products using AWS’s machine learning technologies. For example, Amazon Textract is being leveraged to help Vertafore extract text and data from virtually any document, and Amazon SageMaker — a fully managed AWS machine learning service — is enabling Vertafore to build, train and deploy machine learning models that will automate policy checking capabilities for customer service representatives.
4. Could you share a specific customer/user that benefits from what you offer? What has Vertafore done for them?
CH: The insurance industry is overwhelmed by the amount of data flowing between clients, insurance agencies and the insurers themselves. Much of this data is locked up in documents and not easily accessed. Vertafore has been leveraging machine learning to help extract insights from this data to make insurance industry professionals more productive and successful.
For example, Vertafore helps insurance agencies leverage this data to be more successful by applying the Amazon model — customers who buy this type of policy tend to also buy these other kinds of policies. This helps insurance agents better position offerings to customers, better address a customer’s needs and ultimately lead to higher customer retention.