Innovation is one of the key values for the PZU Group. The Strategy for 2017–2020 defines it as familiarity with client needs, searching for new solutions and setting trends on the financial services market. Innovation also signifies thinking outside the box, breaking molds and looking for opportunities to streamline how the company functions.
Innovation in the PZU Group is not limited to a single division, project or area. Smaller and greater changes are constantly being made to every aspect of how the firm operates, and they combine to form a picture of one of the most innovative companies in the financial industry in Europe. PZU’s innovations contribute to client satisfaction, which is a top priority for the Group, and to employee comfort, and at a micro scale, to the development of the overall economy.
The innovation strategy adopted by PZU in November 2017 supports the pursuit of the overall PZU Group’s mission and strategy. Three major areas are set forth thereunder in which particular effort is expended to find new solutions:
The innovation strategy is reflected in the projects and initiatives run by PZU. The Group fathoms that innovations call for the creation of creative space fostering the generation of ideas, prototyping original solutions and building a culture of innovativeness. The Innovation Laboratory is such a place in PZU. Its overarching task is to search for modern solutions, check them, perform tests and support rollouts. Moreover, special processes have been forged in the entire organization to facilitate rapid testing and implementation of innovative solutions. During a given year the Innovation Laboratory team analyzes nearly 2 thousand proposals and ideas relating to innovations; from among that number, 12-15 innovations are slated for piloting.
In 2018, more than PLN 275 million was designated by the PZU Group for innovative projects1. In 2019, financial expenditures were above PLN 271 million, with the largest share – over PLN 120 million – was spent by the Pekao Group.
"In an organization as big as ours, it is essential to use resources very reasonably. Startups are formed by teams of advanced experts in selected fields that are able to operate with a high degree of agility and operational flexibility. These features of startups enable us to deploy innovative solutions faster, while they gain a large and reliable business partner."
One example of innovations rolled out in collaboration with the PZU Innovation Laboratory is the Data Lab project. Having regard for the size of its business and its lengthy operating history, PZU has one of the largest data files in Poland. The purpose of the Data Lab analytical environment is to experiment on big data files and quickly design and test various analytical hypotheses. The Data Lab’s work is supported by some of best companies providing Data Science services in Poland. Projects executed by the Data Lab cover all areas of the organization in order to prevent the trap of focus on a single process only. The Data Lab changes the way PZU views big data sets and shows their hidden potential.
Selected pilot projects completed in Data Lab:
“VINO” initiative – a solution for automatic verification of VIN numbers in external registers as part of the process of detecting insurance fraud when purchasing motor own damage insurance;
“Sisi” initiative – examining the potential for indicating which Contact Center consultant and when should call a PZU client in order to maximize the effectiveness of up-selling on a given low-premium insurance portfolio;
“CRM 2.0” initiative – improvement of existing predictive models used to support sales of the PZU offering. Such models enable advanced client selection which permits the targeting of only those clients who are likely to be interested in PZU’s offering.
Outcome of the Data Lab project in 2019:
The Polish version of Google Assistant, i.e. a smart voice assistant, has been in operation since the beginning of the year. Actions are the key feature of this software as they enable obtaining specific information. The PZU Group was the first insurer in Poland to design and deploy such an action. PZU’s action, developed jointly with a Polish startup, will allow users to immediately obtain a tentative proposal along with the estimated price of the PZU Wojażer travel insurance. All within individually selected parameters during a chat with the virtual consultant. If the client is interested in the presented proposal, the action will automatically send a lead to the Contact Center that will get in touch with the client immediately to ask for details and finalize the purchasing process.
"The development of PZU’s action on Google Assistant is undoubtedly a terrific step in promoting the innovative image of our company. The deployment of this solution demonstrates that we are in line with global technological and business trends and proves that, despite numerous challenges we had to face during the project, we have the capacity to provide our clients with new channels of interaction with PZU. Taking advantage of this opportunity, I would like to thank everyone who was involved in the project and actively provided us with the much needed support. Our project lasted 7 weeks and required the involvement and commitment of 20 PZU employees."
Innovations in PZU can rescue clients’ life and health. At the turn of 2017 and 2018, work was begun on a breakthrough solution for the owners of passenger vehicles – PZU GO. This is an application connected to a small device known as a beacon that is glued to the inside of the vehicle’s windshield. The beacon is outfitted with a high quality accelerometer and a small battery whose lifetime in Polish weather conditions is estimated to last at least three years. The device communicates with an app and if a major accident transpires, an employee from the PZU alarm center contacts the client to check whether he or she needs support. If the employee does not receive a response, then the rescue services are summoned to proceed to that site.
In December 2018, PZU GO was made available to clients under the PZU GO program. Following the clients’ favorable reception of the solution, since 2 April 2019, PZU GO has been available for purchase at PLN 49 as a PZU AUTO Assistance insurance option from selected agents and PZU branches. Moreover, clients who drive safely and wish to obtain additional benefits may join the PZU Pomocni Club.
More than 80% of clients are very satisfied or satisfied with PZU GO. Clients who use this solution are of the opinion that its most important advantages are automatic accident detection and the ability to immediately call the PZU Emergency Center using the SOS button.
The app is slated to be fitted with additional functionalities that will elevate the level of client satisfaction.
LINK4 is also rolling out a similar program based on telematic solutions. For every motor policy purchased, it offers a free NaviExpert navigation service to its clients whereby it analyzes a driver’s driving style. Another year of the functioning of the telematic program called “Cash Back” made it possible to improve analytical algorithms and the mechanics used to reward drivers. Link4 rewards people whose driving style it considers to be smooth and safe – the reward is in the form of Polish zloty accumulated on a client’s account. At the end of the policy term drivers can receive a payout of this amount or apply it to lower the premium for a new policy. 45.5 thousand drivers who drove 108.5 million kilometers with the app regularly turned on took part in the telematic promotion in 2019. At the end of December 2019, the second million of Polish zloty in bonuses generated in the LINK4 Cash Back program was exceeded – the winner obtained a refund of PLN 1,200.
Development of innovations through the provision of support to startup acceleration programs: MIT Enterprise Forum Poland and RBL_Start
Within the framework of its cooperation with the MIT Enterprise Forum CEE accelerator, PZU has the opportunity to run pilot rollouts of innovative solutions using project funding from external sources, specifically from the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development.
Activities related to the provision of support to startup acceleration programs generate the following benefits:
The support provided to both these startup acceleration programs took place in the following phases:
In 2019, nine pilot projects were launched, three of which were completed by the end of the year and six were still in progress (most of them launched during the fall edition of the MIT accelerator). New pilot projects are scheduled to be launched in 2020.
Within the framework of the MIT Enterprise Forum CEE program, in collaboration with ChallengeRocket, a #challengePZU recruitment campaign was launched (www.pzu.challengerocket.com).
PZU used the globally innovative formula of an open challenge to recruit programmers (Java and SQL specialists). The methodology was based on Skill Challenges, which are thematically related to the scope of knowledge required in the respective job. Candidates, before being invited to the next recruitment stage, had to demonstrate their skills.
Artificial intelligence analyzed the answers and the candidates’ code and assessed their skills, highlighting deficiencies, if any. Such actions are an element of the innovative strategy implemented in HR departments, based on constant recruitment of the best candidates and building a talent pool for the organization, that is a group of individuals with specific and highly desired skills.
The assumed objectives of the pilot project were achieved. Within a timeframe of two months, information about the campaign had almost 145 thousand views.
Having observed a clear trend related to changes in urban mobility, LINK4 introduced third-party liability insurance for environmentally aware cyclists. This insurance covers, for instance, damage caused by the use of personal transportation vehicles, including electric and ordinary scooters and bicycles. It is the first offering of this type dedicated to users of personal transportation vehicles. This modern offering was backed by an online campaign highlighting the security aspects of using personal transportation vehicles.
In 2019, LINK4 organized the second edition of the conference dedicated to the topic of innovation, addressed to the company’s employees. The company’s culture of innovation is an extremely important aspect that forges the generation of new and interesting projects and ideas. Events like the LINK4Future conference stimulate creativity among employees and allow for noticing interesting solutions from other industries and markets. Like in last year’s conference, mainly external speakers were invited.
LINK4 has been putting emphasis on the competences of its employees for some time now. In 2019, the Analyst Academy was established to improve the analytical skills of the persons employed on three advancement levels. During the first semester, approx. 50 participants underwent training in Excel, VBA, SQL, Power Point, etc. The Analyst Academy significantly supports the entire process of transformation of LINK4 into a data driven company. The transformation into a data driven company involves development of the technology and organization around data collection and processing, machine learning and artificial intelligence. To this effect the Data and Advanced Analytics Center was established in LINK4. Its key tasks include: data processing and preparation, development of predictive models and data reporting and visualization. The project’s overriding objective is to generate value through comprehensive and advanced data analysis in the entire organization.
In 2019, LINK4 organized the second edition of the conference dedicated to the topic of innovation, addressed to the company’s employees. The company’s culture of innovation is an extremely important aspect that forges the generation of new and interesting projects and ideas. Events like the LINK4Future onference stimulate creativity among employees and allow for noticing interesting solutions from other industries and markets. Like in last year’s conference, mainly external speakers were invited.
Robotics is a tool that helps relieve employees of tedious and repetitive tasks that do not require any sophisticated specialist knowledge or experience. Robots enable replacement of cross-system integration and process large volumes of data in a very short time. The use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology improves data quality, streamlines process efficiency control and provides an additional reporting conduit. The application of robotics has made it possible to carry out processes that until recently could not be executed by employees due to their high labor intensity or the need to perform complex operations in a short time.
The deployment of a robotic process takes less time than a systemic change, and the solution itself generates lower costs than would be required if additional employees were to be hired.
Until June 2019, nine processes had been robotized under the AROS project2 with the support of an external supplier. Then, the project team was transformed swiftly into the Robotics Competence Center involved in other day-to-day operations and has since deployed another nine processes.
At the end of 2019, LINK4 had in place 36 business processes executed fully or largely by robots.
In November 2019, for the needs of the Non-life Claims Handling Team, data on more than 11,000 claims were collected.
A preliminary analysis was also conducted of the processes reported by the Inspiration Council: Client profile (preparation of a leaflet containing information on the client’s history of claims in PZU), Counselor’s reference sheet (preparation a one-pager with significant information about the claim brought to court).
In collaboration with the Foreign Claims Handling Project, processes have been devised to enable comprehensive handling of foreign claims in the Claims Handling System. In 2019, as many as 18 processes were deployed, including: acceleration of the dispatch of letters containing the calculation of total and partial damage to clients, which translated into faster claims handling and financial savings resulting from shorter rental periods of replacement vehicles.
In the future, robotization of additional processes is expected, e.g. to automate the handling of claims related to hospitalization, childbirths and deaths, as well as the creation of a comprehensive solution that would combine robotics with machine learning, OCR, smart OCR and artificial intelligence technologies with a view to enhancing the improvement and automation of processes related to claims handling and the disbursement of benefits.
In 2019, PZU created a separate unit to handle foreign claims and assistance services – the Foreign Claims Handling and Assistance Center, which specializes in handling international motor insurance claims, correspondent claims and claims representative’s claims and also handles all the claims notified under travel insurance.
In this time of automation and digitalization of processes, clients expect to an even greater degree a customized approach. PZU has relationship managers who stay in contact with the injured parties for the duration of the claims/benefits handling process.
Depending on client expectations, the relationship manager handles claims and advises of progress in a given case. The relationship manager can also provide support to clients, act as their advisor offering specific solutions in a difficult situation, and efficiently organize and manage all the services PZU offers in the framework of handling a notification. That person’s task is to walk clients through the entire process in the least cumbersome manner, including by ascertaining their preferences regarding, for instance, channels of communication or methods of rectifying the loss.
The new claims handling model under a formula based on client support provided by the relationship manager enables the injured party to avoid many formalities related to claims handling. The relationship manager’s role is to prepare the best solutions for clients and provide advisory services to select the most optimal choice involving, among other things, the method of calculating a claim or the selection of a workshop.
LINK4 has in place internal procedures for detecting fraud related to personal injury and property damage claims and a strategy for combating claim-related insurance offenses.
When dealing with simple claims, 86% of decisions are made at PZU on the day of notification. For more complicated claims, clients receive a decision on almost 62% of notified claims within seven days.
Crisis management procedure in claims handling
The procedure describes a number of mechanisms applied to catastrophic claims. These processes are focused predominantly on how to:
The following steps are most frequently taken within the framework of this procedure: launch of a mobile office and four mobile mini offices, simplification of the processes of receiving reports and handling claims, relocation of resources to areas affected by the disaster and provision of items of key significance to the persons in need, such as tarpaulins, cleaning products, foils, foodstuffs and potable water.
In 2019, the scale of catastrophic losses was small. These losses were caused predominantly by instances of local torrential rain and hail – simplified claims handling procedures were applied and mobile mini offices were sent to the areas affected by the insurable event.
Automatic analysis of pictures and cost estimates of damaged vehicles
Verification of the correct performance of repair operations and acceleration of claim handling on a vehicle using technological innovations was a challenge in 2019. The decision to undertake these activities was made in consideration of the estimated improvement in the third party liability/motor own damage claims handling quality ratios and the adopted business rules regarding repair cost estimates in third party liability/motor own damage insurance. Nearly 80,000 cost estimates in third party liability/motor own damage insurance were automatically analyzed and specific third party liability/motor own damage insurance cases were selected for manual analysis of the correct application of business rules to specific claims handling cases, which translated into improvement in the quality of claims handling ratios. Artificial intelligence needs only 30 seconds to analyze technical documentation. This solution makes it possible to select 90% of the documentation that fulfills the requirements needed to preserve high quality of claims handling in PZU. The artificial intelligence will forward the remaining 10% of the documentation requiring additional expertise for analysis to be done directly by PZU employees.
Since 2018 PZU has had a special program to assist injured parties in accidents. This is a unique solution that sets the company apart on the Polish insurance market. The Company offers customized and comprehensive support to persons who have sustained grave injury or have lost a relative in an accident caused by someone holding motor TPL insurance in PZU.
During direct meetings employees from PZU’s relationship managers team analyze the health and life status of the injured party and identify his or her needs. They also offer assistance in pulling together the documentation required to obtain benefits from PZU and state institutions, foundations and associations. If needed they organize psychological, medical or legal assistance. In 2019, PZU’s relationship managers also contacted families of persons who died from cancer and offered them an ad hoc psycho-oncological consultation or therapeutic respite for children and their caregivers.
School breaks and vacation trips involving therapy and recreation for children and their caregivers (100 spots are available per annum) are organized under the program to provide assistance to injured parties in accidents.
Self-service was created as an element of the digital service models adopted by PZU. It is a response to the growing needs of clients who expect not only convenient online tools to report a claim intuitively but also to be provided quickly with the amount of compensation. The new solution has enabled a reduction in the time of acceptance and handling of claims.
Self-service is an element of the online reporting of a claim. Information about injuries sustained during the insurable event permits automatic calculation of the proposed amount of compensation. An innovative approach has been applied to collect information about injuries in the form of a model human body.
1 CAPEX and OPEX.
2 The AROS project has been executed since 2017. The objective of the project team was to select and implement most efficient and cost-effective RPA solutions.