Personal Finance

Got a policy query? Fix it with a chatbot

Bavadharini KS | Updated on August 25, 2019

These AI-powered bots are programmed to assist policyholders

A growing number of insurers are introducing chatbots on their websites. Chatbots are computer programmes that can communicate with humans (in this case, policyholders) through text or voice, using artificial intelligence.

They understand the user’s intent and send responses based on the insurer’s rules and data. Here’s what they have to offer, and the pros and cons that come with them.

Services offered

As a policyholder, you can experience chatbots through dialogue boxes on the insurer’s website.

In life insurance, chatbots assist policyholders in checking claim status, fund value, units allocated, premium amount and its due date, payment history, annual unit statements, premium receipt, tax certificate and soft copies of the policy. For instance, if you want to know your claim status, the bot would ask for your policy number and display the current status of your claim.

Policyholders can also locate a nearby branch or ask for the contact number of any branch through the bot.

You can ask for services related to updating PAN, e-mail, address, nominee details and change in premium payment frequency. For instance, HDFC Life’s chatbot, Elle, provides step-by-step assistance to update your nominee details. It also gives suggestion such as who can be appointed as nominees and the benefits available to them.

One can also get basic details about a particular policy from the chatbot. For instance, ICICI Prudential Life’s chatbot LiGo provides details about the discounts available on the product and a key highlight about the plan. Similarly, DISHA, Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance’s chatbot, asks for details such as required sum insured, premium payment term, frequency of premium payment and riders needed, and directs the customer to a customer-care executive after that.

In non-life insurance as well, chatbots such as BOING (Bajaj Allianz) offer similar services, including information related to no-claim bonus, exclusions under motor policies, total salvage value, location of garages and network hospitals. Most of the chatbots provide services including policy renewal as well as purchase of new policies. For instance, ICICI Lombard’s MyRA guides an individual through the entire process, right from purchase of a general insurance policy (excluding health) to premium payment.

Pros and cons

One of the key benefits of chatbots is that policyholders can avail themselves of insurance services 24x7 and largely do not require human intervention. However, bots can have answers only for basic queries.

Anilkumar Singh, Chief Actuarial Officer, Aditya Birla Sun Life Insurance, says: “While companies are taking positive steps towards making chatbots additionally comprehensive and intelligent, there are still certain queries which need human intervention and cannot be answered by chatbots.”

When it comes to purchasing a new life policy through a chatbot, Goutam Datta, Chief Information and Digital Officer, Bajaj Allianz Life, says: “Purchase of life insurance is a lengthy process and people come to a bot for quick solutions.” Chatbots function faster to queries of existing customers.

Usually, due to the complexities of the product, health policies are not entirely sold through chatbots.

Also, claim initiations are usually through customer care, where there is human interaction. Ganessan Soundiram, Chief Technology Officer, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance, says: “Claim process requires document submission and scrutiny, and our chatbot, LiGo, directs the customer to the company’s website for further processing.”

While a bot gives policy recommendations or a price quote, the onus is on the customer to know the pros and cons of it and whether it fits his/her requirements, before making the actual purchase.

Chatbots such as BOING (Bajaj Allianz) are available in five different languages; Exide Life Insurance’s virtual assistant is available in three languages. But most of them are available only in English, which limits effective communication with diverse customers.

Also, some customers may not be comfortable using bots due to data security concerns.

Published on August 25, 2019

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