’Using the AI tool enabled us to react quickly to an urgent issue,’ says director of customer risk management

Axa Commercial managed to review thousands of multi-page documents for mentions of reinforced autoclaved aerated concrete (RAAC) in just a few hours with the help of artificial intelligence (AI).

RAAC is a lightweight form of concrete used from the 1950s to the mid-1990s and is weaker and less durable than standard concrete.

Earlier this year (31 August 2023), more than 100 schools in England and Wales were forced to close buildings after it was identified in their construction.

As a result, Axa Commercial had to look at more than 70,000 multi-page documents for mentions of RAAC from its in-house risk engineers following visits to customer sites.

While this would have taken 12 months to complete manually, the insurer was able to check the documents in just a few hours to identify which buildings were at risk using AI that was trained to understand the concept of RAAC construction and identify the affected buildings.

Dougie Barnett, director of customer risk management at AXA Commercial, said: “This was a situation where speed was of the essence – our customers were concerned about their buildings and we were able to provide reassurance about which ones were at risk.

“Using the AI tool enabled us to react quickly to an urgent issue, rapidly reviewing thousands of pieces of data to identify those customers whose buildings could have been constructed using RAAC.”

Cases confirmed

Initial checks identified 65 cases as potentially containing RAAC – after a detailed desktop review of the reports, four were confirmed.

Axa Commercial’s underwriters are now working with the impacted customers to discuss next steps and how it can provide support.

“Our customers are our priority and we are constantly exploring ways to use new technologies to improve and enhance our processes,” Barnett added.

“This powerful AI tool has shown it has the potential to revolutionise admin-heavy tasks of unstructured data and allow us to respond rapidly when needed.”