Surex Direct: Using A.I. to Improve Broker Efficiency

A 2019 ICTA nomination

Toronto, ON (Jan. 24, 2019) – We have used machine-learning to automate many internal processes here at Surex; most notable has been machine-processing of insurance documents. Billing-related documents are one example; these documents need to be read, categorized, and entered into our ticketing system. Billing agents then look up related customer data and email the customer to resolve the billing issue. These tasks used to be done manually, but we’ve saved billing agents up to 3 hours per day by building an intelligent billing ticketing system. This system autonomously reads and categorizes documents, extracts the key information, and performs all relevant data-entry and data-lookup. It then composes and sends an appropriate email to the customer before turning the process over to billing agents. Similar automatic processes are running for other types of documents, including broker memos and claims documents.

Our intelligent systems also help ensure a high level of service by performing audit tasks. Currently, each transaction, policy renewal, and policy change is carefully audited by our staff to ensure consistency and quality. We have developed an intelligent auditing program that assists auditors: it learns what coverage sets are appropriate for a given situation and raises the alarm when something seems out of place. It continuously learns and adapts to industry changes.

These automations are based on artificial intelligence (AI). In some cases, we have gone beyond the cutting-edge in AI technology and invented our own algorithms and techniques (one of which will be presented at a prestigious AI conference in December 2018). Our intelligent software learns from staff members’ decisions; whenever it is unsure, it refers the case to staff for manual processing and learns from their actions. This means it can autonomously adapt to change – a tremendous advantage in an industry where policies, standards, and regulations are always in flux.

Our suite of intelligent software has been developed over the last year, with much support from a major grant through the Industrial Research and Development Program (IRAP). It is still expanding, with many more disruptive features still to come.


When we first deployed the intelligent billing document handling system, there was a marked 25% increase in our billing team’s productivity. Around 40% of all billing tickets are now created automatically (including initial contact with the customer in most cases), saving billing agents up to 3 hours per day. During some recent staffing decisions, the billing team (currently 5 members) treated the system as equivalent to 2 additional billing agents. Our intelligent auditing system is boosting productivity in the auditing department as well. The system is still in an early stage, but currently handles 24% of auto policy renewal audits autonomously.

These efficiency gains have allowed us to redirect some hiring dollars from support roles to broker roles. Some of our existing support staff have chosen to certify and move into broker roles as well. This helps fuel our rapid growth: In September 2018, Surex ranked 22nd on Canadian Business’ list of the top 500 fastest-growing companies in Canada. We were the fastest-growing in Alberta. Many factors contributed to this success, but our intelligent software was one massive key.

About Surex Direct

Surex Direct is a Canada-wide online insurance brokerage. Since inception in 2012, Surex has grown its book of business to over $65 million in annual premiums. In 2018, Surex placed 22nd, the highest ranking of an Alberta headquartered business, on the Growth 500 Canada list, recognizing the country’s biggest revenue growers in the past 5 years.

Source: Surex Direct

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