Virtual Assistant: Promising Trial Run at PMA Assurances

Published June 3 2022

Alain Castonguay

At the end of April, Applied Systems announced their partnership with Koïos Intelligence. Together, they planned to use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and natural language processing to simplify insurance sales and service processes.

The integration of the Koïos system into the Applied Epic and Applied TarifExpert systems will enable brokers to offer their customers a voice-activated virtual assistant capable of providing quotes.

“10 years ago, the idea of having machines that could understand human language was closer to science fiction for most people,” says Mohamed Hanini, founder, CEO and Chief Technology Officer of Koïos Intelligence.

In his experience, a major technological challenge arose when trying to implement AI in insurance while interfacing with insurers’ legacy systems. Thus, a collaboration with Applied’s ecosystem aids in the improvement of Koios’ voice-activated virtual assistant.

Insurance brokers can insert the voice-activated virtual assistant into their desktop and mobile devices to offer their customers smoother digital interactions. The virtual assistant guides potential customers through the entire process, from getting a quote to setting reminders, ultimately speeding up the sales cycle.

PMA’s Promising Trial

In an interview with Portail de l’assurance, Mohamed Hanini notes that the Koïos virtual assistant has already been in use for two months by PMA Assurances’ Trois-Rivières brokerage for its personal-lines damage insurance products. The virtual assistant works in both French and English.

Steve Martin, Senior Vice-President of PMA Assurances, confirms that the trial is very promising. The virtual assistant has been integrated into the firm’s website, and customers from all over Quebec can use it to ask automobile insurance-related questions.

The assistant can even suggest the rates offered by different insurers based on the information provided by the customer. “We are still testing the system for home insurance. The system has not yet been deployed,” adds Martin. He admits that home insurance products are more complex to underwrite than car insurance.

According to Martin, PMA Assurances has a fairly decentralized work structure. Regardless of where the employee performs their work, they are able to intervene mid-conversation or conclude the transaction at the consumer’s request. Although the company’s offices are mainly located in the Mauricie and Eastern Townships regions, customers throughout Quebec can request a quote online.

Koïos’ virtual assistant has the capacity to include a voice function where an AI generated voice converses with customers via the online platform. This function has not yet been deployed, but it may be used for PMA’s telephone service in the medium term, according to Martin.

Adding Value to Consulting

Initially, Steve Martin was looking into chatbots for support, but the products left him wanting more. “When I met Mohamed and his team, there was clearly a difference with their tool compared to what the market was offering,” he says.

After exchanging with Koïos, the firm has focused its AI needs on virtual assistants and personal automobile insurance. The Koïos platform is very broad, and even offers support for claims settlement, an area that is generally handled by insurers.

“We get the most requests from customers in automobile insurance,” says Martin. In his opinion, advances in artificial intelligence over the next five years will ensure that firms make extensive use of these digital tools.

In the short term, the VP’s primary aim is to help brokers focus on their advisory role. “By automating simple tasks, we can fully utilize the added value that the broker brings,” he says.

Consumers’ habits have changed, and they ask questions at all hours and using a variety of platforms. If the firm manages to convert between 10% and 25% of these contacts into underwritten policies by being able to answer questions in real time, the virtual assistant will have proved its worth, says Martin.

“The tool is evolutionary, and it’s not up to us to improve it, unlike a web platform,” notes Steve Martin. In his opinion, the insurance industry needs to adapt to new technologies which in turn, helps them evolve.

If Koïos’ technology becomes more sophisticated and can also support brokers in telephone service, Steve Martin notes that insurers may see value in using it for their direct distribution needs. PMA Assurances created the PMA Agency in the Autumn of 2021, which offers products exclusively from the insurer Intact.

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