The value of mobile document scanning in insurance

Scanbot launched its mobile scanning technology SDK in 2017 after discovering that insurers were dissatisfied with cumbersome claim filing processes, struggling with poor document quality and were being weighed down by time-consuming and costly document reviewing processes. Now, its mobile document scanning is turning the way insurers handle documents on its head.

Max Stratmann, chief revenue officer, at Scanbot said that when Scanbot launched in 2011, the initial idea was to revolutionise document management. Back then, the company’s document management software already included a feature that allowed users to scan physical documents to store and process them digitally. An analysis of user activity, however, revealed that this document scanning function was the most frequently used feature. In 2014, Scanbot saw this as an opportunity to pivot and released the B2C document scanning app Scanbot. By 2017, over ten million people had used it.

Stratmann said that during this time, the company was approached by several enterprises, most of them insurance companies in the DACH region. They wanted a mobile document scanning solution to make it easier for their customers to submit claims. “After a short internal evaluation, we realised how great the need of insurance companies for an accurate document scanning solution was.”

According to Stratmann, customers were dissatisfied with the cumbersome process of filing claims. Documents also arrived at the insurer through a variety of channels, automated claims processing rates were suffering from poor document quality, and staff were manually reviewing documents in time-consuming, costly processes.

To meet this demand for an accurate document scanning solution and to solve these issues, Scanbot launched its SDK in 2017. The Scanbot SDK allows enterprises to add document scanning features to existing mobile or web apps in just one week. Following its success, Scanbot then sold its B2C app in 2019 and has since focussed on its B2B mobile data capture solutions, and boasts insurance groups such as AXA and Generali amongst its customers.

What value can document scanning bring?

According to Stratmann, The Scanbot Document Scanning SDK enables companies to integrate mobile document scanning into existing mobile and web apps within just one week. “This rapid implementation is crucial for enterprises that want to get on the road to mobile data capture as quickly as possible,” he said.

Furthermore, Stratmann said the self-explanatory user guidance of the Scanbot SDK enables even the less tech-savvy people to use the document scanning function in the insurers’ app. “User guidance is very important, especially in the insurance industry, as people who did not grow up as “digital natives” also need to be able to perform a scan without problems.”

However, whilst document scanning is the core of Scanbot’s B2B business, Stratmann said the company is constantly developing advanced data capture capabilities. “Our goal is to make any analog data digital by enabling cameras to actually understand reality, not just photograph it. This opens up millions of potential use cases, from scanning simple barcodes and complex documents to understanding shapes, colours, and characteristics of objects. Our goal is to become the partner for all data capture needs.”

Why is document digitisation important?

In the insurance industry, the most prominent use case for document digitisation is the submission of medical bills by insureds to insurance companies. Stratmann explained that when an insurance client visits a doctor, they usually receive an invoice. To get reimbursed, they must submit this bill to the insurance company. Without mobile document scanning, the customer has to file their claim via mail, email, or other outdated or slow submission channels. The insurance company must then process these documents manually. The client faces a painfully long wait until they are reimbursed.

Using the Scanbot SDK however, insurers can provide a more convenient claims experience whilst cutting costs in the claims process. “Using the Scanbot SDK, insurance companies enable their customers to scan and submit documents within just three seconds. When clients submit invoices, medical certificates, and similar documents digitally, the insurance can process most of those automatically. The result is that claims can be closed and money reimbursed in just two to five days,” Stratmann said.

Mobile data capture is also valuable in customer onboarding, as it drastically simplifies the initial collection of customer data. Without this ability, Stratmann said insurance agents must manually transfer all customer data into the insurance company’s back-end system – a tedious and error-prone process.

For example, with Scanbot’s European Health Insurance Card Scanner (EHIC Scanner) or its ID card scanning features, customer data can be captured within seconds. “The Scanbot SDK automatically extracts all the required data. This makes customer onboarding an excellent experience for new insureds – all without sending the data to any external server.

“These two examples show how mobile data capture has become a cornerstone of automated data processing in many insurance processes: by providing efficiency, cost savings, and the “WOW” effect for new policyholders.”

The pandemic effect

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the value of the Scanbot SDK, Stratmann said. As lockdowns forced employees to work from home, companies faced the urgent issue of digitising data. This meant that analog data had to be converted into digital information that could be accessed and processed from anywhere.

At the same time, Stratmann continued, restrictions on personal contact also gave new impetus to the need for mobile data functionalities. Besides enabling contact-free workflows and smooth submission processes, they allow users to handle urgent tasks with a familiar device.

“Furthermore, owing to digital vaccination passes and COVID-related apps, many less tech-savvy people are now comfortable with smartphone applications. There is now a much greater receptivity towards digital applications in general, including provided software such as Scanbot’s Document Scanning SDK.

“The pandemic has had a serious impact on human lives around the globe. In dealing with it, however, enterprises have grown to realise how vital digital data capture is for the customer experience. “

The role of mobile document scanning in the drive to digitise

The insurance industry is often considered as lagging behind other industries in terms of digitisation, however Stratmann said the industry is slowly but surely catching up.

“The Covid-19 pandemic, market intruders such as Tesla and Amazon, and digitised insurance solutions like Ottonova or Lemonade have made the insurance sector aware of the importance of automatic processing and data utilisation. As providers of mobile scanning and data extraction technologies, we experience this change first hand, as the demand for such solutions is greater than ever.”

Digital customer experiences are valued more highly than ever. Stratmann said that within the past two to three years, Scanbot has seen an increase from testing to final production released for insurance provider apps. Moreover, the introduction of new channels such as online portals or mobile apps demonstrates a shift from traditional business models to an omnichannel, customer-centric insurance experiences.

Scanbot is revolutionising how insurers and InsurTechs handle their documents. Prior to using Scanbot SDK, Stratmann said insurers were confronted with vast amounts of physical invoices, which presented numerous problems.

“These [physical invoices] had to be sent to scanning facilities which transformed the physical document into a digitally processable file. Following the introduction of new channels, invoices were also sent to the insurance companies as photos via email. Photos, however, are typically low-quality input, not least because they usually include a lot of background, not providing a clean scan of the document. This makes it hard for machines to read the data on the image itself.”

The result of this was that insurers were forced to dedicate an enormous amount of resources to manually reviewing and processing document images. Yet customers still had to wait a long time for claims to be processed.

Implementing the Scanbot SDK means these tedious processes are “a problem of the past”. The rate of automatically processed claims can rise by more than 25%, saving time and decreasing costs.

Stratmann said that Scanbot believed mobile document scanning is fundamental to digitising customer-oriented insurance processes, and those who do not adopt such technologies may lose out. “Large insurers cannot avoid implementing mobile document scanning to lay the foundation for digital processes and a sophisticated omnichannel insurance experience.”

Despite the benefits, Stratmann said that established insurance companies tend to take longer than more innovative InsurTech startups such as Lemonade or Hippo to implement SDK into their apps.

The main problem for these enterprises, Stratmann continued, is that numerous internal departments have to thoroughly test and review solutions before the final implementation can take place. InsurTechs on the other hand, are much faster at introducing new functionalities, due to their agile and lean corporate structure and affinity for software.

However, this is changing. “Even at large insurance companies, insurers are now clearly more open to digital solutions, and push harder to implement them,” Stratmann said. “We are sure that this trend will become even stronger in the upcoming years and that we will see mobile document scanning solutions at almost every insurance company.”

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