The insurance industry's efforts to catch up with 21st Century technology could provide an opportunity for some workers -- and sound a warning for others.
The industry is known for plodding into the Information Age. As recently as 2006, the Lloyds insurance market in London was shipping four tons of paper to its out-of-town claims processing center every day.
But insurers have been gradually getting it, incorporating more technology into underwriting, product design, claims and other aspects of their business. A new report by Celent, part of the Oliver Wyman consulting unit of insurance broker Marsh & McLennan Cos., says "an increase in automation" ranks high among most insurers' top priorities.
That could provide an opportunity for existing or prospective employees capable of overseeing technology projects and using new systems. The Celent report cited examples of insurers using technology to distribute products, identify the most attractive customers, and detect fraud, among other tasks. Lloyds, meanwhile, hired IBM last year to install a uniform messaging service at the market, as part of a broader modernization project.
Yet the move toward greater use of technology might not provide an instant career boost to all existing industry staff, though. The Celent report notes that higher productivity lets the same staff handle more work "or a smaller number of staff to handle the same volume of work."