Opinion

Digitalisation in life insurance

Ganessan Soundiram | Updated on November 18, 2020 Published on November 18, 2020

The pandemic has hastened the process of tech adoption

Many of us who have bought an insurance policy would have been left with the desire of a more simplified process. Unlike other products, the insurance buying process involves multiple handoffs and iterations.

A typical process involves suitability analysis, quotations, benefit illustration, application fulfilment and finally issuance. The multiple systems lead to drop offs, productivity concerns and poor buying experience. Can digitalisation provide a seamless platform and a delightful buying experience?

Despite the buzz surrounding digitisation, its extent varies from one insurer to another. Some insurers have looked collectively at the process, ecosystems and the technology while others have looked at only addressing specific issues.

During Covid-19, digitalisation played a key role in insurers providing a seamless experience for distribution and customers. Here are some key imperatives while digitalising on-boarding and servicing processes.

Contactless on-boarding: As social distancing becomes the norm, most life insurance companies have built end-to-end digital onboarding platforms. This is further simplified by leveraging ecosystems and by providing an intuitive interface for buying policies in a contactless way with just a few clicks.

Pre-approved offering: As conducting medical tests became a challenge in these times, life insurance companies leverage analytics for providing sharper offerings to customers for whom no medical tests are required.

AI Chatbots: Integrating Artificial Intelligence (AI) with Natural Language Processing, companies are deploying AI-driven chatbots to solve customer queries, fill out applications forms and walk customers through some predefined process.

IVR Technology: Before the pandemic hit us, life insurance companies had invested in IVR technology to act as a traffic controller, automating simple tasks and transferring complex calls to live agents. However, as travelling to work has become a challenge now, companies leveraged the power of high speed internet across the country to install visual-based IVR systems so that customers could navigate their way towards fulfilling their needs with a few touches.

E-meetings and video chats: In the lockdown period, companies developed e-learning training modules to train their agent workforce on video-based digital platforms, also armed them with various digital enablers like calculators, video pitches and digital campaigns. This has helped agents to continue serving their customer needs from the comfort of their house.

Online claim registration: In order to make the claims process seamless and contactless, companies used multiples digital enablers like WhatsApp, mobile app or websites where customer could register, download and upload documents without needing any physical assistance.

Faster claim processing and settlement: Companies are increasingly employing robotic process automation and AI to automatically validate death certificates and reduce the turnaround time to just 24 hours.

Match purpose with tech

Insurers must define their goal before integrating technology in their business model. Technology can be the catalyst in the following ways:

Attention: Given the short attention span, to capture a customer’s attention, the trick is to segment your customer base and employ cutting edge technology along with adequate human interaction to seal the deal. This could entail building a device agnostic digital distribution channel, spending resources on analytics to provide customised offering or sending tailored messages to strengthen relationships.

Functions and process: Reducing cost and building operational efficiency to boost the bottom line would be the key to long-term survival. Leveraging AI and mining data to improve underwriting and product development will help in driving revenue growth. Internet of things (IoT), sensory analytics and Telematics are revolutionary technologies whose time might have come in the West, but is India ready to embrace it?

What’s next?

Insurers who have adopted digital transformation were able to quickly navigate the pandemic induced challenges. Now every individual is open to e-meetings, video conferencing solutions, Tele Medicine, e-Learning and e-commerce. This presents an opportunity to re-imagine physical interactions and maximise productivity and customer experience.

The writer is Chief Technology Officer, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company

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Published on November 18, 2020
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