Opinion | Digitalisation - The Catalyst for the new age of insurance3 min read . Updated: 03 Sep 2020, 11:06 AM IST
- A case for embedding digital infrastructure for safety, convenience, and experience. Digitalisation offers a win-win proposition by providing convenience and choice of platforms to customers, rationalising time of distributors and making life insurance companies more efficient
When business historians look back to analyse and understand some of the key events that accelerated digitalisation, the year 2020 would be regarded as a game changer. Be it mitigating disruptions to distribution, operations, customer service or providing safety to employees, in times of covid-19, companies have leveraged their digital platforms well to fill in the gaps.
Every crisis presents an opportunity and covid-19 is no different. Like in many others, the pandemic has changed consumer behaviour in the life insurance industry as well, leading to greater interest in pure term insurance plans. Also, self-service usage has seen a sharp uptick in these times, as an increasing number of Gen X and Gen Y customers are adopting self-service options.
Not long ago, on-boarding required customers to fill up application forms, a laborious process which involved a lot of paperwork and anxiety. Also, the fulfillment journey required multiple hand-offs and disparate systems leading to customer experience issues. However, in the past 10 years significant development has happened in digitalising end-to-end on-boarding journey. Life insurers can do suitability analysis, match products with the life-stage requirements of customers, and have application forms auto-populated leveraging data available with eco systems and distributors.
Digital platforms ushered in transparency and ensured active participation of customers in the buying process. Technology has also enabled life insurers to expedite underwriting decisions and has significantly reduced policy issuance time. Digitalisation offers a win-win proposition by providing convenience and choice of platforms to customers, rationalising time of the distributors and making life insurance companies more efficient.
Insurers have kept pace in modernising the service architecture and digitalising all service touch points and processes. Customers are now fully empowered and can have the service requirements met either through self-service channels or through any platform of choice including technology channels such as WhatsApp, AI-driven BoTs, etc.
Given the nuances of the life insurance industry, where conducting face-to-face meetings was the dominant method of selling, engagement still was a combination of physical and digital.
Digitalisation during Covid-19
With the prolonged lockdown that covid-19 brought in its wake, appreciation for digital platforms has increased multifold. We are now more open to e-meetings, video chats, tele medicine, e-learning, shop streaming, etc. This changing trend presents an opportunity for insurers to leverage and reimagine the need for physical interactions. The time is apt from both acceptability and safety perspectives.
Contactless engagement – A well envisaged collaboration platform to bring sales, customers and experts together on a video platform and simultaneously have the ability to share the quotation, benefit illustration, applications and other documents would largely reduce the face-to-face meeting requirements.
Pre-approved offers - it offers a frictionless, contactless and instant issuance opportunity. This involves analytics-based sharper offerings for a frictionless journey based on segmented risk assessment for paperless on boarding and issuance.
Sensory analytics – emerging technologies analyse digital images and provide required information instantaneously. This technology can be used to provide instant feedback for uploaded images and drive ‘First-Time-Right’ behaviour.
Robo Advice – is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) enabled platform that uses algorithms to provide automated advice to customers without human intervention. These advisors could be deployed across multiple channels (WhatsApp, website) to service customers.
Faster Claim Processing and Settlement – insurers are increasingly using predictive analysis backed by Machine Learning (ML) to increase operational efficiency and reducing turn-around-time for claim settlement to 24 hours.
It is important for companies to answer four questions when evaluating the digital capabilities: Are my customers, sales and employees empowered? Can I offer a frictionless, paperless, personalised and dynamic journey for my stakeholders? Is my architecture nimble enough to keep adapting to the technological advancements? Am I equipped to challenge the industry benchmarks? Being adept with digital is no longer a ‘good-to-have’, it is a ‘must-have’ capability. Indian life insurance companies have to embrace the digital revolution to thrive in the new insurance landscape.
Ganessan Soundiram is chief technology officer, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance.