(By Rana Biswas)
We often think of innovation as a quasi-revolutionary process, but leveraging what is already out there, and improving on how things are done, can also be transformative. Even though digital innovations have long been there for the taking in the financial world, the incentive to implement them has too often been offset by the comfort of the old ways, especially in the insurance industry.
Although insurers have long recognized the need to modernize and digitally transform, until recently most were still busy developing a five-year plan. The demands of the pandemic forced the industry to leverage digital innovation, and quickly, if they were to remain relevant to their clients.
New digital solutions were needed to transition away from old paper-based processes and largely manual processes. Insurers are at a distinct disadvantage, as one of the biggest changes they needed to address comes from outside the industry entirely. Today’s customers’ expectations are conditioned by the online interactions they have with companies from different industries.
As a result, many insurance carriers have been getting heavily involved with innovations such as self-service portals. Agents and their clients can access their policy information in real-time, make changes, obtain commission reports and even see pending business.
The integration of illustration, electronic applications and portals has transformed the customer experience, as new clients are able to get quotes, see how a policy works, apply and get instant approval and instant policy issuing. The sales cycle is cut from weeks to seconds, and the experience builds customer satisfaction as well as being a significant source of new business.
But there is more: throw a robust data analytics capacity into the mix, and life changes for both the insurance company and their clients, be they distributors, agents or policy holders. In fact, an emerging new value proposition serves the digitally transformed insurance landscape.
On the distribution front, solutions that enable the automation of more processes, reducing errors and accelerating the workflow are in demand. Easier access to all data in real-time, and more effective solutions for leveraging that data to create world-class experiences for all are all the rage right now.
And it transforms the business.
In this new innovation-driven world, advisors have learned to place more value on partnerships with those organizations that can help them grow their business. And in the post-pandemic environment, where social distancing is expected to remain a key variable that businesses need to learn to leverage, providing the clients with what they need, when they need it and with the best value proposition can be done remotely.
Digital sales have been a lifeline for companies during the pandemic. Adoption of innovative tools enabling clients and agents to see the particulars of a proposed insurance solution, apply for or make changes to an existing policy or client record online is therefore the name of the game. Digital tools have created opportunities for hybrid distribution, hyper-personalization, and have helped the industry build customer engagement, on top of a great consumer experience.
In that respect, strategic digital transformation products and services that help develop solutions that solve the biggest, most complex problems facing the insurance industry are where we’re at now. But that’s only a starting point: integrating digital innovations into the value proposition is not an event but a journey.
Is the insurance industry ready to embark?
(The author is the Vice President, Wealth & Insurance Solutions APAC, at Equisoft)