Today rapid advancement in technology has accelerated innovation across businesses, ensuring customer demands are matched and met at a fast pace. Digitalisation has transformed the entire customer purchase funnel into an agile, nimble process making possibly all products and services available at the click of a button.
Speaking to Asia Advisers Network, Suhail Ghai, Chief Digital & Information Officer, Max Life Insurance said “One of the main areas where digitalisation can benefit insurance is simplifying products which are, by their nature, fairly complex”.
“Insurance is a complex product. It is not a one-time transaction like taking a loan, but it is something which you are going to use for a large part of your life and therefore, the important thing is the ability to explain the product simply to the customer. That's one big area where digitalisation can help and which is a challenge to solve” he said.
He added that given insurance is typically a low-touchpoint industry, digitalisation can also help to create a more frictionless customer experience. It can improve risk assessment through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation, increase post-purchase engagement with customers, and improve insurers’ understanding of what customers need at various points in their lives.
All of this will lead to a reduction in time between when a customer feels they need to be insured, and when they actually get insured. And lastly, he said insurers need to look at reaching out to different demographics – particularly those of the younger generation – and help them with their financial planning for their long-term needs and supporting their loved ones.
Which technologies are crucial?
Of the many advanced technologies available today, Mr Ghai identified artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) as the ones that could have the greatest impact on insurance.
“I think these are two aspects which will help change the entire way you on-board a customer. This is one big area where we will continue to see work happening,” he said.
With the world becoming increasingly interconnected and the need for quicker access to data being so much more important, he also emphasised on the right ecosystem integration.
“For example, can you dip into medical records of the customer? Or can you verify a customer’s identity? In many countries now you have an aggregator, you have a platform which gets all the information together, financial and health, so how can you integrate them?” he said.
This integration also extends to health and wellness ecosystems, he said, as insurance is no longer just about selling a product but is becoming much more about the whole experience and engaging the customer.
He said that on the medical front, technology will have a big role to play in terms of doing tests, using biomarkers and modern imaging technology to map the health status.
Finally, he said technology will change the way insurance is bought. Where traditionally customers would receive recommendations from an agent for a product that might be good for them; including insurance as part of an ecosystem means they will be able to discover and buy different types of insurance products– example, buying home and life insurance as a bundled option.
He added over 20% of customers want to complete their transactions online and that number is likely to increase; making it necessary to simplify products.
The applications of technology, have raised concerns with regards to the ownership of a customer’s data and the accessibility of a customer’s medical information, which is typically confidential.
Mr Ghai said that to circumvent most of these issues, it is important to remember that the data belongs to the customer.
“Very early in the process, it is imperative that a customer is comfortable giving their consent for this,” he said. “Otherwise, there is always going to be this issue of a customer feeling that their data has been stolen. Consent of the customer is very important before using their data.”
Max Life’s strategy
Looking ahead, Mr Ghai highlighted several areas that Max Life is working on to realise its ambition of being India’s best traditional insurer with digital capabilities:
- Making sure its products are accessible to customers in a way they want to discover it and when they want to discover it
- Allow for frictionless on boarding of customers through the use of digital ecosystems resulting in minimal physical testing and documentation
- Building an omnichannel strategy leveraging health and wellness and giving customers a seamless experience with its products and services
- Improving the enterprise and empowering employees to serve customers better.
- Creating a pipeline of digital talent and becoming an employer of choice for digital talent
Mr Ghai added that the insurance space is an interesting one to watch as a traditional industry being disrupted. He pointed to how there are many InsurTechs today that are able to support traditional insurers.
“I think there's a massive opportunity for insurance companies to work with InsurTech ecosystems to change the way insurance is sold, bought and how it affects customers’ financial independence” he said.