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Automation wonít replace human underwriting skills: Suncorp

Human underwriters still have a crucial role to play, despite the rise of automated risk-selection and pricing, according to Suncorp.

“Of all the insurance services... it is underwriting that has been most affected by digital automation,” the insurer says in a new white paper.

Suncorp says human judgement and intuition are as important as ever.

However, technology will “dramatically reconfigure the underwriting workforce”.

EGM Commercial Portfolio Darren O’Connell, author of the paper, says the right education and training is vital for younger staff members to build the skills required for more complex risks.

“One way is to adjust the traditional underwriting career pathway to incorporate rotations in other disciplines, such as claims and distribution,” he said.

“Many claims and distribution employees will develop a strong understanding of products. Young underwriters could spend time in these teams as a ‘risk apprenticeship’.”

Mr O’Connell warns underwriters could easily become over-reliant on technology, and not have the expertise or confidence to make decisions.

“This could lead to mistakes and missed opportunities, which will have a serious impact on an insurance business.

“Some risks may appear to fit within the business’ risk appetite based on data modelling, but an experienced underwriter may spot something that causes concern.”

Mr O’Connell says insurers should look to capture as much of the older generation’s knowledge as possible before they retire.

“The industry should look to harness their knowledge and experience and pass it on to the next generation. For example, you could establish mentoring programs for recruits and experienced underwriters.”

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