The amount of data to process has always been a problem for insurers. Could AXA’s Harry, Bert and Lenny be the answer?


The automation of claims and the uptake of automated processing ‘bots’ to help with work are concepts that the industry has latched on to. Actual implementation of those things, though, will prove somewhat more complicated. 

This is because the flexibility to use these innovations is restricted by legacy systems. Yet the rewards of overcoming these barriers are clear: insurers are overloaded with data that is still mostly processed manually. Automating the entire claims process could hold numerous benefits for claims handlers. This, coupled with using bots to carry out tedious admin work would free up even more staff time. 

In short, automation of claims and the use of bots could dramatically reduce both cost and time spent, as well as shining a spotlight on fraud. But could they also lead to industry job losses?

Meet the bots

In January this year AXA deployed three bots to support staff across the business, carrying out repetitive admin work. It projected then that the bots – Harry, Bert and Lenny – would save approximately 18,000 man hours per year.

Their main task is to read customer correspondence and pair it to the requisite claims record. Harry, for example, can carry this out in 42 seconds. In comparison it would take a member of staff around four minutes. 

‘Our AI bots are a great example of harnessing technology to make things simpler’

Waseem Malik, AXA


Throughout 2019 the bots will pick up more admin tasks, allowing staff to turn their attention to more analytical tasks. The firm also announced a fourth bot called Como will be joining them to work on the commercial motor team.

Waseem Malik, executive managing director of claims at AXA UK, told Insurance Times that the “fundamental purpose” of a claims team is to be there for customers when things go wrong.

He said: “Our business, and this is particularly true in claims, is only as good as our people, so by freeing them up to make a difference to our customers, we are using their skills and expertise in the best possible way. To do that we need to constantly look for ways to improve, whether that is by simplifying our processes or by looking to the future and embracing innovation.”

Malik added: “Our AI bots are a great example of where this approach comes together – harnessing the potential of technology to make things simpler and pioneering a new way of working – the result of which will be our teams’ ability to deliver a better customer journey.”

AXA has stated that the bots have not resulted in job losses.

“They have drastically sped up the completion of repetitive, administrative tasks, allowing our staff to concentrate on providing a service that exceeds expectations,” said Malik. “The jobs are complementary, and the bots have been really well received by their new colleagues.”

Automating claims

360Globalnet recently launched the latest version of 360SiteView – its digital claims platform. The new version allows claims handlers to see every aspect of a claim, including UK motor damage estimates, smarter forms and claims team management tools.

360Globalnet chief executive Paul Stanley said: “If you can’t see an incident you can’t manage it properly.” 

He also said that developing technology means customers have greater service expectations. 

“Insurance customers are demanding faster, personalised and self-serviced claims from their phone, tablet and laptop, as well as the choice of talking to an empathetic claims handler whenever they need, all without having to repeatedly answer questions they have already been through,” he said. 

“Insurers require improved service at much lower operational cost, where the costs of claims themselves are controlled, together with anti-fraud technology built in.”

On whether automating the entire process might lead to job losses, Stanley said that, for every job filled by technology, another is created and that by removing more repetitive tasks, staff can turn their attention to other things.

New jobs

Chris Wyard, head of underwriting data at Allianz, said that the company had created jobs and career opportunities to support its investment in RPA (robotic process automation). RPA is the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning to handle repetitive tasks such as queries, calculations and maintaining records. 

Wyard said it has benefits beyond automating manual processes, with the biggest uptake seen in claims, due to the repetitive documentation process and in its technical data team. 

He said: “RPA is helping us structure more data and drive greater insights than ever before, and our data teams are empowered to explore the enterprise for opportunities. As a result of our investment in automation and RPA, we are allowing our teams to focus on adding greater value to the customer and their business units, as manual work or low value activity is automated.

“Our data teams have access to more sources of insight and that allows us to improve our business decisions, data models, products and services.”

Wyard said that RPA has enabled Allianz to accelerate its digital and data strategies.

However insurer LV= announced in February that 140 jobs were at risk across three offices in a move linked to claims automation. 

Automation of claims, RPA and bots could see the entire insurance ecosystem run significantly more efficiently. But it also means that, over the next few years, we will see a major overhaul in the way the industry is structured.