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How New Technology is Reshaping the Insurance Industry's Hiring and Claim Management Work Environment

By Jeffrey Austin White, SVP Product Manager of Workers’ Compensation And Gallagher Bassett and Gary Anderberg, SVP Claims Analytics, Gallagher Bassett

Jeffrey Austin White, SVP Product Manager of Workers’ Compensation

Many insurers and third-party claims administrators are not in a position to put up a great fight to win the battle for talent. The insurance industry has a disproportionate number of employees over the age of 55, with 25 percent planning their retirement, according to the Jacobson Group.

The traditionally conservative and slow-moving industry of workers’ compensation is now on the front lines of the talent war. The loss of key personnel, higher-than-average attrition rate, shallow talent pool, and above average tenure creates increased demands in this industry. Without the ability to attract and retain the right people, workers’ compensation insurance companies are at risk. Inside our claims organizations we are hiring millennials with new ideas and expectations about work, while at the same time we arm our staff with decision support capability as our most experienced specialists are retiring in large numbers.

In recent years, large Fortune 500 companies have been dominating the recruiting industry by attracting hundreds of thousands of talented employees. Conventional recruiting and retention strategies are no longer relevant to the insurance industry. Our only hope to compete is to embrace state-of-the-art recruiting platforms, social media, artificial intelligence and data-driven analytics.

A future where resumes are obsolete and new technologies allow recruiters to identify signals from social media sites revealing candidate skills, competencies, passions, traits and career interests in near real-time. These same technologies will provide more insights on candidates than traditional face-to-face interviews. In this future scenario, AI will attract candidates by dynamically adjusting job descriptions derived from large, aggregated industry-wide databases of job ads. AI-powered recruiting platforms make recommendations for modifying job posts, highlighting language or content that may be gender biased, clichéd or unattractive. Recruits are judged based on their ability to be creative problem solvers and adaptable – all based on job assessment surveys administered on a smartphone.

HR professionals are using software solutions like Textio, powered by a proprietary data set of more than 350 million job posts and leverages AI to analyze job descriptions and predict how different people will respond to their content. Textio tailors recommendations after studying prior hiring data, including applicant qualifications and demographics. Talent acquisition platforms like HireVue and Montage use AI to assess candidate interviews conducted over video or text communication. A 2017 Deloitte report entitled “Talent acquisition: Enter the cognitive recruiter” found that 33 percent of survey respondents already used some form of AI in their hiring process. An emerging crop of “smart” hiring tools are fast-tracking the interview processes reducing what traditionally took weeks to a matter of days.

The Retirement Conundrum

The handling of workers’ compensation claims is a very technical and highly-regulated process. Being a claims adjuster required years of on the job training to become proficient. Unfortunately, experienced adjusters are retiring in droves. Now, we are investing in recruiting and training solutions to attract new talent to support our growth and maintain quality claims handling standards.

Adjusting workers’ compensation claims at its foundation is a process of making a large number of often complex decisions. An average claim may involve dozens of key decision points, many of which are not financial. In more serious claims, claims adjusters are tasked with helping the injured worker navigate the medical system, developing a plan to help the injured worker make a productive and healthy return to work, and acting as the intermediary between the injured worker and the employer. The technical term for this process is facilitating “return to work,” but in many cases, we are helping the injured worker return to life. We don’t simply pay medical bills and push checks for lost wages out the door; we act as a steward and advocate keeping the injured worker safe.

Our new employees come to us with excellent technical skills and often a deeply intuitive sense of analytics and sophisticated computer systems. How can we onboard and train these tech-savvy employees to make up for the lack of experience? And how do we capture and transfer the expertise of our retiring adjusters and make it easily and immediately available to our recruits?

We have made a significant commitment to developing decision support systems, leveraging the newest advances in artificial intelligence, predictive modeling, text analytics and big data. Our goal is to make information available on-demand and to help our adjusters make the best decisions on each claim every day. We seek to reduce variability and offer demonstrably superior outcomes to our clients, even as we traverse the ongoing retirement/ replacement cycle. For our newest adjusters, our Waypoint decision support system is designed to be like having our best, most experienced senior adjuster sitting beside and looking over their shoulders. This decision support capability helps them spot possible outliers, set accurate reserves, and understand the needs of each injured worker, even while they’re still learning the ropes.

Expanding decision support functions have become central to how we do business. The key word in this concept is support. We have no interest in replacing adjusters with software or AI-driven robots. The establishment of human-to-human rapport with an injured worker is critical to managing a claim to everyone’s satisfaction. Our model remains intensely human-centric, while our new systems help incoming millennials and Gen Z adjusters handle complex claims with the same aplomb as our soon-to-be-retiring boomers.

The User Communication Conundrum

A new generation of smart phone savvy injured workers began to experience the workers’ compensation claims process a few years ago. They were familiar with shopping on sites like Amazon and navigating a dazzling variety of apps like WAZE and Instagram. However, the workers’ compensation industry expected them to use voicemail and postage stamps to process their claims, just like in 1964. Behind the scenes, our new millennial claim adjusters are limitated, as they played telephone tag with claimants or waited for the snail mail to move piles of documents from office to home and back again.

‘Gallagher Bassett, a claims adjusting firm in workers’ compensation, began development of a new smart phone app called GBGO with the intent of changing how injured workers and claims adjusters interact – improving communication and facilitating a partnership.

We had several goals for this new digital platform: 1) make communication between the injured worker and the adjuster radically more convenient and faster, x2) provide the injured worker with a higher level of transparency to help them navigate the claims process with far less uncertainty and frustration, 3) facilitate the sharing of information and materials like medical awareness and pharmacy access cards, 4) help injured workers locate the best doctors, and 5) set up and keep physician appointments.

GBGO would reduce the time adjusters take for routine paper shuffling and documentation, freeing up time for human-to-human interactions. We could now emphasize the rewarding parts of our work — helping people — and spend less time on the process. We plan to leverage this technology to improve our external communications.

A new version of GBGO went live for employers to use in reporting new claims and coordinating return to work for existing claimants. GBGO was the focal point for continuous improvement to further its integration into the actual claims process, thus allowing our adjusters more time to focus on understanding the unique needs of each injured worker.

The industry will continue to evolve our digital capability to improve the experience for both the injured workers and the claims adjuster. We must keep embracing new technologies that support great human interactions.

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