How Max Life Insurance is fostering FinTech innovations
In an exclusive interaction with Express Computer, Manu Lavanya, Director & Chief Operations Officer, Max Life Insurance, speaks on the increasing role of the FinTech startup ecosystem in the insurance industry and how Max Life Innovation Labs is catalysing innovation in this space
How do you see the role of FinTech startups in the insurance industry?
Traditionally, the relationship with the insurer and its policyholders has been seen as an infrequent transactional and financial interaction. As a result, till the last decade, insurers in India did not feel an urgent impetus to be at the leading edge of digital technologies. But over the last decade, technology-driven change has seen a significant acceleration, driven by Internet penetration, changing the digital persona of the buyers, and democratisation of data and analytics.
In the year 2020, this got further accelerated by Covid-19, as it forced businesses to disrupt traditional models through digital means even to keep the businesses as a going concern. Insurance companies understand the need to become more customer-focused, easier to do business with, and more responsive to customer needs and expectations. They also realise that an organic approach to building a rapidly evolving digital capability, will hamper speed to market and hence an ecosystem approach to innovation is the need for the hour.
FinTech ecosystem gives an ideal platform to the insurance providers to accelerate the innovation across the value chain, be it blockchain for insurance networks, digital twins as robo-advisors, and non-invasive medical tests amongst many others. Max Life Insurance, through its accelerator programme, Max Innovation Labs, wants to tap into the limitless potential of the start-up ecosystem to forge partnerships and drive collaboration to bring industry-first InsurTech solutions.
Please elaborate on the use cases from Max Life Innovation Labs last year. How are you currently working with the selected startups from last year’s edition?
We selected nine use-cases for our first edition:
- Speech recognition
- Document parsing
- Alternate to conventional medical tests
- Integrated view for customers
- Smart hiring/training of agents/salesforce
- Intelligent data acquisition on customers’ prospects from online and offline sources
- Health and wellness
- Personal finance and retirement planning
- Smart underwriting
Last year, when we ran the industry-first Corporate Accelerator Programme, it was a huge success with more than 150 applications. Through the shortlisting process, we were able to select seven startups for sharing Proof of Concept (POC’s). From our shortlisted startups, we concluded four of them with successful outcomes, while one is underway. As a promise through this program, all the successful POC’s were converted into a full-scale commercial production deployment. That said, all the startups are extended arms of the organisation and are fully immersed in creating some of the most innovative solutions in the industry. We believe that the real win=win of the programme will only get delivered when we are able to scale the outcome of this programme to provide differentiated and innovative capability to the business at scale.
How does this programme provide support and incentives to startups?
Apart from the opportunity of production deployment, the shortlisted startups are provided access to added incentives:
- Best in class mentoring: We engaged with the startups and held boot-camps, provided one-on-one dedicated mentor support. Along with that, the startups had access to our ecosystem partners, the likes of AWS activated programme, and access to venture capitalists
- 360-degree support: In terms of technology infrastructure, along with support from business, IT, and InfoSec
- Dedicated innovation space: Workspace at our partner premises in Tier-1 cities
- Exclusive data: Access to relevant data from our databases as needed to test one’s product/solution
- Dedicated support: A single point of contact with the organisation to mitigate any issue and ensure speedy implementation of ideas
- Marketing and brand presence: Promoting the startups on our website, social media channels, print and electronic media partners
What’s the theme for this year? Any particular area of focus?
We have learned immensely from our last year’s outing and have renewed our programme with the focus of foraying into the technologies of the future. This year, we have crowd-sourced use cases from within the organisation and selected seven areas of focus.
- Smart customer profile report: Ability to generate insights from medical, financial documents, external sources, and provide goal-based decisions to enhance financial credibility and health and wellness
- Digital twin: Augmented reality and virtual reality solutions in the areas of sales, customer engagement and marketing
- Data acquisition: Intelligent data acquisition on customers/prospects from online and offline sources
- Health and wellness: Provide health and wellness propositions to the customers that improve their health outcomes through targeted programmes
- Non-invasive medical tests: Non-invasive technology solutions to capture medical profile
- Insurance in a box: Build a white-label platform that can allow insurers to sell on-demand insurance on partner eco-system/under-served segments
- Blockchain networks for insurance: Solutions which help create network relationships across the insurance value chain to simplify claims, on-boarding, policy issuance, renewals, etc.
What are Max Life’s focus areas and how do you see the future of InsurTech?
If the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated anything, it is that almost anything can be done online, including insurance transactions. InsurTechs generally pinpoint a challenge and create a solution for the market, improving efficiency and connectivity for stakeholders.
While InsurTechs have already made a significant contribution to the insurance industry, most of the solutions are currently in the property and casualty market. Going forward, we predict a shift in focus as InsurTechs will start focusing on life and commercial markets. The purchasing and on-boarding process is still behind the tech-curve. Some areas that we see evolving in the future are:
- Tighter embedding of insurance products with the ecosystem.
- As customers are getting more and more tuned to buy and transact digitally, agents and brokers who supplement existing processes with technology in the future will be ahead of the game, we expect InsurTechs to circle back to agencies and brokers soon to disrupt the distribution channel.
- Automate customer acquisition while improving user experience. To be able to offer products, services, contracts, and all kinds of procedures remotely and online
- Significant application of analytics, AI/ML to make each of the enterprise processes more intelligent, leading to on-line decisioning rather than offline reporting based decision making.
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