by Sondra Ashmore, Ph.D.
W.R. Berkley Corporation

In 2018, I had the great privilege of serving as a mentor at the Global Insurance Accelerator in Des Moines, Iowa. The startup company I was paired with was developing a chatbot that served as a broker for life insurance.  The chatbot presented itself as a person and asked a series of questions and recommended several life insurance carriers that met the user’s criteria. The user ultimately had to call in if they wanted to secure the policy, however the process was much more streamlined once they got to that point.

The most interesting part of serving as a mentor was that I was able to help administer user testing on the chatbot. The target audience was young professionals that were buying life insurance for the first time. The test subjects were amazingly comfortable using a chatbot on their phone to shop for insurance, in fact, they confessed that is how they do most of their shopping and research.  I was fascinated and was motivated to learn more about the potential for chatbot technology in insurance.

I continued to research chatbots and discovered that chatbots are quickly gaining adoption in the insurance industry.  According to a July of 2018 article published by IBM,

“Chatbots have quickly moved into the mainstream. Insurers are no exception, and it is much more than novelty that is driving chatbots deeper into the industry. While insurers may just be scratching the surface of entering the customer service by VA foray, the use of chatbots are gaining popularity quickly across the industry.”

Chatbots are assisting with everything from policy Q&A to claims resolution. Chatbots Magazine argues that, “There’s been a shift in communication preferences across all age groups and nationalities. Conventional channels of customer support are less in demand, and more and more people are turning to instant messaging as their chosen mode of communication.”  Clearly people have come to expect communication channels that allow them to get real-time answers and information.

At Berkley Global Product Recall, we have partnered with Pypestream to create Beckey, a chatbot that provides information about our insurance offerings. Our goal is to offer superior customer service allowing both brokers and insureds easy and fast answers.  We encourage you to have a chat with Beckey (at the bottom right corner of our web site) and we welcome your feedback as our chatbot technology continues to offer more services going forward.