The COVID-19 pandemic has had numerous negative impacts on the insurance industry, but it has also created opportunities for investment in technology, as businesses need to evolve and adjust to a new way of working. Artificial intelligence is one such example, and the technology has multiple applications across the insurance value chain, with the latest success story being seen in Zurich and its partnership with AI firm Sprout.ai.

Findings from GlobalData’s 2020 Tech Trends Survey indicate that 35% of insurance executives believe artificial intelligence will significantly disrupt the industry. Their sentiment appears to be well founded, as the outcome of Zurich’s trial for “automated policy checking” in the claims process saw the timeframe for property claim settlement fall to below 24 hours. Clearly, the use of such technology will be of considerable benefit for the insurance industry and greatly improve the customer experience when dealing with their providers at what is typically a stressful time. The applications of artificial intelligence in the claims area will likely expand beyond that seen in the Zurich and Sprout.ai partnership, with the potential for applications such as computer vision becoming recognised in the home and motor insurance markets as a tool to reduce costs and settlement times.

With incumbents in the insurance industry facing continued competition from insurtechs, there is an even greater need to continuously incorporate new technologies to better service the needs of their policyholders. COVID-19 has been a catalyst for further technological change in the industry and will continue to drive innovation across the value chain.

Moving forward, we should expect to see continued and more advanced applications of artificial intelligence across the insurance value chain; in particular, the use of the technology in underwriting will be the next big development.