MITA: An Information-Extraction Approach to the Analysis of Free-Form Text in Life Insurance Applications

Barry Glasgow, Alan Mandell, Dan Binney, Lila Ghemri, David Fisher


MetLife processes over 260,000 life insurance applications a year. Underwriting of these applications is labor intensive. Automation is difficult because the applications include many free-form text fields. MetLife's intelligent text analyzer (MITA) uses the information-extraction technique of natural language processing to structure the extensive textual fields on a life insurance application. Knowledge engineering, with the help of underwriters as domain experts, was performed to elicit significant concepts for both medical and occupational textual fields. A corpus of 20,000 life insurance applications provided the syntactical and semantic patterns in which these underwriting concepts occur. These patterns, in conjunction with the concepts, formed the frameworks for information extraction. Extension of the information-extraction work developed by Wendy Lehnert was used to populate these frameworks with classes obtained from the systematized nomenclature of human and veterinary medicine and the Dictionary of Occupational Titles ontologies. These structured frameworks can then be analyzed by conventional knowledge-based systems. MITA is currently processing 20,000 life insurance applications a month. Eighty-nine percent of the textual fields processed by MITA exceed the established confidence-level threshold and are potentially available for further analysis by domain-specific analyzers.

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