Insurance is touchy topic for many. It is nonetheless an absolute necessity. Decisions on claims are often delayed. omni:us, a company based in Berlin, has now launched an AI that makes processing insurance claims easier. CEO Sofie Quidenus-Wahlforss and her team use AI modules to optimise and automate the claims process in the insurance industry. We spoke to Sofie about her AI and claims automation solution.
Sofie, thank you for taking the time to do this interview. You grew up near Salzburg but now live Berlin. What are some of things you enjoy in Berlin in autumn that you might not have in Salzburg?
Unfortunately, I can't recommend exploring mountains like those around Salzburg, but flying a kite on a windy autumn Sunday on the Drachenberg is great fun, and not just for kids. On rainy days – which certainly happens a bit here - there are many exciting indoor attractions to discover, which offer much more than just a dry roof over your head: for example, the Hamburger Bahnhof or the Feuerle Collection.
With omni:us, you use AI for integrated end-2-end claims automation. How exactly does your AI work? What does your solution look like?
Our AI works like a claims adjuster, except that it is fully digital and works 24/7. The omni:us Digital Claims Adjuster (DCA) is an AIaaS (Artificial Intelligence-as-a-Service) solution that enables seamlessly integrated end-2-end claims automation within existing insurance systems, such as Guidewire, Sapiens or legacy applications. The DCA can process simple to medium-complex claims for all standard categories of property and casualty insurance, from the notification of the claim to the release of payment, completely without human intervention. In the case of more complex claims, the DCA takes care of the pre-processing. On the one hand, the automation significantly reduces the adjuster’s workload, which previously comprised time-consuming manual processing steps. On the other hand, they receive an AI-based decision recommendation and can therefore concentrate primarily on the claims assessment and providing excellent customer service. This, in turn, reduces processing costs by up to 35 per cent, while significantly optimising the customer's claims processing experience through transparency, speed and simplified, interactive processes. If you would like to find out more about our product, please visit our website: http://omnius.com/uniqa.
Do you see potential for omni:us in other areas of the economy, for example in the digitisation of administrative processes? Are there plans to expand to other industries?
Claims processing is not only one of the most time-consuming processes in the insurance industry, it is also highly complex and is quite challenging to automate. It is not without reason that no one had managed to crack this last “holy grail of digitisation” until we did. However, it requires more than just intelligent algorithms. The challenge lies in a deep understanding of the claims field and a high level of technological expertise in equal measure - and above all how to link them. Thus, our full focus on claims automation was and is one of our most important recipes for success. We are a so-called "hypervertical" provider (of intelligent claims automation solutions in the insurance sector) and will remain so - although parts of our solution could certainly also provide added value in other sectors.
You say you are bold and a risktaker. Anyone who risks a lot should also be well insured ;) Is this what led you to the idea of using omni:us to optimise processes in the insurance industry?
Without insurance nothing in this world would work: no taxis, no schools, no theatres, no restaurants. Insurance is omnipresent and yet no one is really interested in the subject. I have always found that in itself fascinating – and all the more so as with omni:us we can make a significant contribution to making this important peace of mind more affordable, empathetic, transparent and customer-oriented. In addition, the risk, but also the potential, made it very tempting to push ahead into the last unconquered major digitisation area, namely the insurance industry, with the transformation of a core process.
How would you describe Berlin’s start-up sector? In your opinion, what advantages does Berlin have over other tech hub cities?
Young, dynamic, inspiring, versatile, cosmopolitan, casual and (still) affordable. Our team alone gives me the greatest joy every day and confirms that choosing Berlin as our home was the right one: 19 nationalities under one roof with incredible energy and joy, who, like this city, work together every day to push themselves and their limits to grow, to achieve what was previously unimaginable and above all to have a lot of fun doing it.
Do you also use AI for optimising internal processes at omni:us? If so, in which areas?
In addition to our internal omni:us AI platform, with which we train AI models for complex claims settlement decisions and the understanding of claims communication and insurance policies, we use specialist tools from other providers, especially in administrative areas – some of them from Berlin start-ups we are friends with – who also use AI. For example, Circula for our expense reports.
Time savings through partial automation can of course also mean that some workstations are no longer required. How do you see this development and what is your opinion of the criticism?
The job market is changing. Automation now plays a decisive role and ensures more efficiency in work environments. While the need for employees, who currently mainly perform simple, repetitive activities, will fall drastically in many industries, new jobs and professions are being created thanks to digitisation. The hope is that this will balance out the lost jobs in the workplace in the best possible way. I see opportunities here primarily in the return of previously outsourced business processes, as well as the fostering of creative activities and the expansion of all services for direct customer communication. New positions will be characterised by more complex tasks and demands on the employees, whereby a focus on training is probably one of the most important factors for a successful digital transformation, socially and economically. So, in a nutshell, while the low-wage sector certainly has to face tough competition from automation solutions, the latter create new jobs in more demanding but also completely new fields.
In our case specifically, the omni:us Digital Claims Adjuster supports claims processing teams that are often at full capacity and ensures that they can concentrate on complex cases and improve the quality of customer service. This, in turn, ensures speed, efficiency, elimination of repetitive activities and consistent results with full transparency - and thus significantly increases customer and employee satisfaction. At the same time, we enable a new generation of claims adjusters to seamlessly enter their professional field - with the latest technology that supports them in being able to carry out their work conscientiously from day one, since a large part of the knowledge transfer of their predecessors has already taken place in our supporting software.
What AI innovations are you currently seeing in Berlin that could be relevant for omni:us, but also in general for the future?
Berlin is definitely well positioned and it is nice to see that we are not alone in the B2B environment and the development of expert systems that follow a clear business case. Since AI is research-intensive and requires a holistic understanding of the problem for the provision of commercially successful solutions, I genuinely see sustained positive development for Berlin as a European tech hub: be it for AI in process automation, business & health intelligence or mobility.
You were one of three finalists in this year’s AI category of the Deep Tech Awards. How important are such awards for young companies and how do they benefit you within your own network?
I think every initiative that promotes young entrepreneurs and their achievements and makes them accessible to a wide audience is great. This fosters courage, motivation and often also establishes important external accreditation. Berlin has a lot to offer, many bold and important projects - and a big thank you to the Deep Tech Initiative, which shines a light on all of these once a year!