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The role of AI and ML in document processing with Chris Payne, EY Partner

July 11, 2024 | Artificial Intelligence, Insurance, Insurance Underwriting, Intelligent Document Processing, Machine Learning

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In this episode of Unstructured Unlocked, Tom Wilde and Michelle Gouveia hosted Chris Payne, a partner at EY who leads the insurance technology practice across EMEA. The discussion provided deep insights into the evolving landscape of insurance technology, particularly the transformative impact of AI and machine learning in intelligent document processing (IDP).



Building a strong foundation for insurance technology

Payne began by explaining the development of EY’s insurance technology practice. Since joining EY in 2005, he’s witnessed a significant shift towards re-platforming, particularly with platforms like Guidewire. He highlighted how EY’s global nature and comprehensive understanding of regulatory and operational models have been instrumental in successfully integrating new technologies in diverse markets: “We were very much on, I guess, the first wave of [re-platforming]—myself and a number of key colleagues were then really working on driving that dialogue with the major insurers in Europe. We built a tremendous story… around being very, very globally connected.”

Payne also underscored the importance of a clear vision and strategic leadership in successful digital transformation projects. He noted that earlier projects often lacked a comprehensive plan, focusing instead on phasing out old technology. “You need clear leadership and time from the top,” he stated, emphasizing the need for organizational buy-in and a well-defined future state to ensure the transformation aligns with business goals. This insight is particularly relevant for Indico, as we help insurers integrate AI-driven document processing solutions to streamline operations and enhance decision-making; these highly efficient technologies can actually hinder an organization if the whole team isn’t aligned with the process and end goals from the start.


An iterative approach to digital transformation


The conversation touched on the shift from an all-encompassing digital transformation approach to a more iterative one. Payne explained that initial attempts to implement a single platform across multiple countries often failed due to differences in business cultures and operations. It was also key for the team to understand local regulatory and distribution dynamics when introducing US software into European markets. Accordingly, he advocated for a phased approach, where core groups worked together to define the scope and requirements of each iteration before rolling out solutions in value drops. This method ensured that the technology addressed the specific needs of each market within each jurisdiction while maintaining a unified strategic direction.

Related content: Risk assessment redefined: The role of automation in insurance underwriting


Navigating AI implementation in insurance


The discussion then moved to the current hype around generative AI in the insurance industry. Payne compared the excitement surrounding generative AI to the earlier buzz around robotic process automation (RPA). He noted that while generative AI offers significant potential for innovation, it’s crucial to deploy it in areas where it can genuinely add value—a principle that Indico goes to great lengths to communicate to our clients regarding IDP. For instance, generative AI can enhance customer interactions in contact centers by improving efficiency and sentiment analysis; however, it will not add nearly as much value (and may even cause harm) if it’s used to communicate about complex, delicate issues with customers. 

Ethical considerations and regulatory compliance were also key topics. Payne stressed the need for a balanced approach—one where innovation does not compromise ethical standards or regulatory requirements. “It was a very rapid sort of mobilization of innovation and ideas and a level of excitement on how they leverage this technology… One organization saw [generative AI] as an opportunity, the other saw it as a massive risk,” he said, illustrating the varying approaches companies take towards embracing new technologies. This balance is crucial for Indico’s clients, too, who must navigate the fine line between leveraging AI for efficiency and maintaining compliance with industry regulations.


Data governance and strategy


Effective data governance and strategy are fundamental to the successful implementation of AI and machine learning in document processing. Payne pointed out that many organizations initially focused too much on technology and not enough on data fundamentals. He emphasized the importance of establishing strong data governance frameworks, including data dictionaries and taxonomies, to drive value from technology investments. This aligns with Indico’s approach, which emphasizes the need for robust data management to maximize the benefits of AI-driven document processing. 


Transformative impact on underwriting and claims


Additionally, the podcast highlighted the transformative impact of AI and machine learning on underwriting and claims processes. Payne noted that while claims functions have historically been underinvested in, they are now seeing renewed interest and investment. AI technologies can streamline claims processing, enhance accuracy, and improve customer satisfaction by providing actionable insights. Similarly, in underwriting, AI can help manage complex risk assessments and improve decision-making by synthesizing vast amounts of data.

Related content: The future of Intelligent Document Processing: trends and predictions


The future of AI in insurance


As the discussion drew to a close, Payne reflected on the future of AI and machine learning in the insurance industry. He expressed optimism about the potential of these technologies to drive significant value creation, particularly through better data integration and real-time analytics. Payne’s insights resonate with Indico’s mission to empower insurers with advanced document processing solutions that enhance efficiency and support strategic growth.

A huge thank you to Chris Payne for joining us on this episode and sharing his highly valuable perspective on our industry as a whole—and as always, thank you for listening! You can subscribe to the Unstructured Unlocked podcast on your favorite platforms, including:

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Frequently asked questions

  • What specific examples of successful AI and ML implementations in insurance can Chris Payne share? While Chris Payne mentioned the transformative impact of AI and machine learning on underwriting and claims, he didn’t provide specific examples. Examples might include using AI to automate claims processing at scale for quicker settlements or employing machine learning algorithms to improve fraud detection in underwriting, leading to more accurate risk assessments and pricing.
  • How does EY ensure compliance with different regulatory environments when implementing AI and ML solutions in insurance? Chris Payne highlighted the importance of understanding local regulatory dynamics but didn’t detail the specific strategies used by EY. Typically, EY might ensure compliance by working closely with local regulatory bodies, conducting thorough compliance audits, and customizing AI solutions to meet specific legal requirements in each jurisdiction.
  • What are the key challenges insurers face when integrating AI-driven document processing solutions, and how can they overcome them? Payne mentioned the importance of a clear vision and strategic leadership but didn’t delve into specific challenges. Common challenges might include data quality issues, resistance to change within the organization, and ensuring data privacy and security. Overcoming these challenges involves establishing strong data governance practices, providing comprehensive training to employees, and implementing robust security measures to protect sensitive information.

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