Re-imagining insurance servicing with technology
While there is a lot of ground to cover still, it is safe to say that policy providers are becoming increasingly tech-driven to nurture and evolve consumer experiences throughout the entire policy life cycle.
Uber. Amazon. Airbnb.
What do the Mighty Three have in common? To me, it’s simple. Starting out as fledgling start-ups determined to make a mark, each of these three placed customer servicing at the core of their business model, giving the age-old concept a fresh new spin. Backed by technological innovations that brought consumer experiences fully online, these companies made servicing modern, agile and humane.
Looking closer home, the insurance sector has possibly been the slowest moving, when it comes to a service-based offering; insurance, to most Indians, is still a purchase you have to, but really don’t want to make. And insurance has really been just that – the selling of policies. Servicing of those policies – well, let’s not poke the bear.
As Robert C Gallagher once said, ‘Change is inevitable. Except from a vending machine’. And this change, driven by technological innovations, is reflecting across various touch-points – from bringing customers into the fold, underwriting risks, claims management to long-term retention. For instance, car insurers are installing telematic devices to gain real-time data on speeding patterns, driving habits, mileage covered to price motor insurance policies more effectively. While there is a lot of ground to cover still, it is safe to say that policy providers are becoming increasingly tech-driven to nurture and evolve consumer experiences throughout the entire policy life cycle.
It’s all on the cloud
To think of a future where you could carry your entire computing environment with you, wherever you went, was a far-fetched one. Till Dropbox came and changed it. It eliminated daily annoyances of managing manual transfer of files, software challenges, loss of files and made storing data on the cloud a pervasive habit. Consumers found a way to build a safe and secure online repository of important office documents, financial records, favourite movies, collection of e-books and access them from virtually anywhere.
Insurance is now adapting to cloud as well and at a much faster pace. Policy providers understand the need of offering convenience and are doing away with paperwork to digitize policies and store them in secure e-vaults. Not only can one access policies immediately during an emergency or refer to them in case of queries, challenges such as physical damages, loss or theft of documents become defunct.
The devil lies in the details
Policygenius, a US-based online insurance marketplace, found in a survey that only 4% of Americans are aware of critical health insurance concepts such as deductible, co-pay, coinsurance etc. This, by default, leaves a massive 96% in the dark on what kind of coverage and exclusions they are entitled to. The scenario is not much different here either. An Apollo Munich study in 2016 showed that 51% of health insurance policy holders in India are under-insured, owing to lack of awareness on how to choose the right cover. The need of the hour is to break down the complexities and the intangibility of insurance products and provide insurees with the ability to view their details from a micro perspective. Demystification and de-jargonization will become the norm as key terms and clauses, hidden benefits, shortfalls of policy covers will be neatly displayed in crisp, concise and bulleted formats on easily accessible digital dashboards.
Personalization is the key
E-commerce has adopted predictive analytics to improve the online shopper’s purchasing experience exceptionally well. Companies are using big data analytics to mine through user profiles and search patterns to make product recommendations that are personalized making the shopping experience more productive. Think of Amazon’s “customer who bought this item also bought…” feature, an insightful value-add that has come to be highly appreciated by users.
Imagine a connected future where IoT, Blockchain, artificial intelligence will seamlessly monitor your lifestyle and driving habits to curate the best insurance policy. Insurers are going to apply big data analytics to curate the perfect insurance policy. Traditional underwriting will become passé and the ‘one size fits all’ approach while providing policy covers will become obsolete. Companies will mine through huge swathes of familial, health, job history and lifestyle data to offer evolved solutions and not just the policy that comes the cheapest.
Infusing innovation in claims settlement
As Forrester rightly said, we are living in the ‘Age of The Customer’. And never has this applied better than claims management and settlement, possibly the most-hated of the insurance buyer’s journey. So many claims have often fallen through because a consumer was not aware of certain documents that needed to be submitted, or was then of waiting period and sub limits.
With insurers creating lifestyle apps, a customer can raise digital first notification of loss to with the help of a chatbot. In developed countries, insurers are coming up with innovative ways, enabling users to capture images of their damaged property, upload it and share so that the onus of settling claims will shift to the policy provider. The entire process will become automated with the help of pre-filled forms, digital loss assessment and insurers and intermediaries taking up ownership of repair to automated settlement.
A 2017 Accenture survey on consumer trends in insurance revealed that 46% respondents value high quality service and will place their bets with insurers who are responsive and alert to their needs and requirements. Today, a policy holder has evolved to become a quality seeking consumer. And the consumers are pressing for change. As Michael LeBoeuf, celebrated author and academician once said, “A satisfied customer is the best strategy of all”. And realizing the inherent worth of this adage, both large and small insurance firms are gearing up to create new products or services at a level of sophistication, customization, and scale which was never possible before.
Authored by By A. S Narayanan, Founder & CEO – McXtra