Kara Hoogensen, Senior Vice President of Specialty Benefits at Principal, stopped by our New York City headquarters to talk to the EvolutionIQ team in person and via Zoom about her journey with EvolutionIQ – and what it’s meant to both claimants and Principal’s examiner teams.
One of the key points she underscored is that when sick or injured people need help, it’s often at one of the most critical parts of their lives – which is why the time spent with a claims examiner is so important. She recounted the story of a 61-year-old man who was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. He wrote to his claims examiner at Principal to thank them for the way in which his disability insurance was working. “I did everything right,” he said in his note. “I didn’t smoke. I didn’t drink. I took care of myself. And here I find myself with a terminal disease. It is hard enough dealing with that. It would be that much harder if I didn’t have income via short-term and long-term disability coming in. Thank you.”
“That’s the type of work we do,” Kara said, “And it has an impact. One of the things I’m most proud of in working for Principal is we truly do – and this is part of the reason I love your organization in the way that I do – is because you do it, we do it: We live our core values. That counts in every single decision that we make. And one of those core values is really around putting the customer first.”
Kara, who credited her colleagues at Principal, Assistant Vice President Cheryl Paine and Claims Director Jason Hollis, for not only introducing her to EvolutionIQ for the first time, but for the company’s ongoing success in using the technology to elevate customer experiences, underscored that “when we think about the ultimate customer experience… for us it’s about what’s the right combination of technology and human interaction.”
“It’s really thinking about those moments of truth – for those highest impact moments – where we are going to best deploy our humans and our talents to engage in that claim experience,” she said. “And for everything else that isn’t one of those high-impact moments, it’s thinking about how can we make sure that we’re freeing up the time of our talent so that they can do more of that work around the high impact moments.”
During the thoughtful and engaging audience Q&A, Kara was asked if she recalled the moment when she realized that AI-powered claims guidance was going to make such a difference at Principal.
“I can still remember the conference room I was sitting in, actually,” when the results of the pilot were being shared with the broader Principal team. “There was one person who was more of a skeptic. And we got through the discussion and she was certainly less skeptical. And that continued – all the way to becoming a true believer. So it’s that moment, when you can start to see that skepticism really starts to break down and then there starts to be that first element of excitement around the potential of what this could do.”
As the fireside chat – which was hosted by EvolutionIQ’s Head of Client Strategy & Analytics John Corretti – concluded, Kara offered advice to others who may be starting to transform their business. “Principal is 140 years old and we’re managing it and leading it in a way that it will be here another 140 years from now,” she said. The key to launching new technologies that will deliver lasting value is “transparency, over-communication, and finding key centers of influence” during the very early days. As she explained, these projects are successful when you collectively identify the right small group of operators, one that includes skeptics, who can be influential among their peers in the organization and bring them along in the journey. That small group of influential company operators are the ones who can ask questions, listen, and help to create a shared understanding of the current state – and then help paint a picture of what the future state should look like.
“Ultimately, they’re going to go back and talk to their colleagues. And they’re going to share the excitement or the updates. And so you’re going to then naturally, almost organically, bring everyone else along and create excitement so that when we do get to a point where we’re rolling something out much more broadly, people are already on board.”
- Hear more from Kara in our two-part coverage of Munich Re’s Panel on the Financial & Operational Benefits of Claims Guidance
- Learn more about Principal Financial joining in EvolutionIQ’s Series B funding round
- See Cheryl Paine, Assistant Vice President at Principal, in our video: “How Claims Guidance is Turning Examiners into Superheroes”
- See Jason Hollis, Claims Director at Principal, in our two-part video: “Partnering People with AI to Transform Claims Handling”