Technology is the fastest changing — and fastest growing — aspect of the voluntary benefits industry. If the carriers you work with are like most in the marketplace, they're quickly getting on board with new tools such as application programming interface technology that help streamline operations and improve customer service. And if they're not already supporting API data exchange now, they're likely building that capability or modernizing their systems to enable it, according to Eastbridge's recent "Application Programming Interface and Artificial Intelligence Carrier Practices" Frontline™ Report.

Far fewer carriers surveyed are taking the leap into artificial intelligence, and even fewer are using AI specifically for their voluntary/worksite business. Carriers cite the newness and viability of the technology, evolving internal strategies for using AI, and the investments and resources needed to support it as reasons to move cautiously. But that's changing. Here are five things you need to know about the voluntary market and AI. 

#1  A strong majority (73%) of carriers not currently using artificial intelligence say they expect to use it in the future.

Most carriers surveyed say they'll implement AI in the next six to 12 months, although a few say it'll take two to three years. 

#2  Business areas are the top uses for AI.

Carriers already using AI implement it most often for claims, underwriting, and customer experience. A handful of carriers use it for marketing or policy issue. None report using AI for voluntary benefits enrollment or product development purposes, and creating customer communications is off the board, at least for now. For example, the ChatGPT program's website admits it can create errors because it's not "connected to the internet, has limited knowledge of world events since 2021 and may also occasionally produce harmful instructions or biased content." Even when the language it produces is accurate, it'll likely need tweaking to align with a company's brand and to create a friendlier, more conversational voice.

#3  Carriers using AI for claims say they're faster and more efficient.

Most carriers using AI for claims say less processing, faster turnaround times and greater efficiency for claims examiners has helped them improve the claims filing or payment process. AI allows them to auto-adjudicate health and wellness claims, and even helps them identify additional potential supplemental health claims policyholders could file.

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