By Dr. Mallesh Bommanahal
If you’ve recently undertaken the uphill task of obtaining insurance, and found yourself struggling with picking the right policy, you’re certainly not alone. COVID-19 has made all of us health conscious. To protect themselves financially more people bought health and life insurance, driving an unprecedented growth in premium collected by Insurance companies by 16% Y-o-Y in the first six months of FY21. Individual health insurance focused companies like Star Health and United India witnessed 45% growth. But as people paid attention to their health insurance plans, it was hard to decide on which one of the 32 Insurance companies to select as your Health finance partner.
While you can easily arrive at a decision to buy the best gadget or travel package for yourself online, based on the ample information available on the internet, the same cannot be said for an insurance policy for health, property, or vehicle. Insurance terms are complicated, payout is slow and the offers are difficult to understand. Moreover, accessibility of the Insurer for claims and grievances is the moment of reality that you would really like to optimise for.
For many policy holders, the experience at the time of claim is stressful and disappointing. To bust a myth here, contrary to popular belief, almost all insurance companies place transparent payment of claims very high on their agenda. Hence, most of the insurers moved quickly to facilitate claims from their mobile app, only 20% of such claims actually got settled purely digitally.
Even with a direct communication channel with their customers, Insurers are unable to solve issues like incomplete documentation, errors in payment deductions and settlement within 2-5 days. The insurer you need to go for are the ones who are using modern AI and digital technologies to resolve the above problems and offer better claim settlement experience in addition to online buying experience.
AI enabled automation is the solution
AI powered chatbot platforms can answer any customer query 24×7, with zero wait time, and any number of times without being rude. While every company offers chatbots, few companies use the modern cutting-edge platforms that are capable of answering the queries objectively like a customer support executive would. If you don’t like the small keys on your phone, insurers like HDFC ERGO and Bajaj Allianz have introduced Alexa-based voice assistants. Moreover, insurers are providing tele-consultation for free to facilitate better healthcare at home. It is now possible to raise all your claims from the convenience of home.
Reliance Jio recently unveiled its AI Video call assistant for customer support. Such AI powered video-bots are mostly in the early phase of development and are expected to revolutionize customer support by giving a human touch to automated responses that are available 24/7. With startups like Rephrase.AI converting text chatbots into video chatbots, customer experience is all set to become a lot more convenient with voice-based interaction.
After all, a person responding to your queries over video chat feels more personalized than talking to a chatbot, even if you know it’s a video bot. It is only a matter of time before Mr. Bachchan (his deepfake) will be on a video call with you to discuss your insurance needs and leverage his acting skills to make that apology much more genuine.
Automation brings accuracy and ensures transparency
In case of vehicle insurance claims, AI can perform automated damage assessment, select the spares required for repair, and provide a fairly accurate assessment of claim amount within seconds. This, in turn, speeds up the claim approval process as no physical inspection is required. So, you can get back on the road sooner than ever before without much hassle. Some companies offer immediate pay-out of the claims even before the repairs are undertaken, helping you to decide and optimise for the best corrections for your car. The claim details can be explained in easy-to-understand terms using natural language generation technology to better engage with the customer.
Insurers like ICICI Lombard and Bajaj Allianz launched InstaSpect and MOTS, their respective AI based damage assessment services for instant renewal of motor insurance policies. By simply uploading pictures of your vehicle, you can get insurances policies issued or renewed faster than ever before.
In case of health insurance, queries on missing documentation, treatment guidelines, unnecessary costs can be raised with hospitals or customers upfront on the app or portal, in order to avoid multiple back and forth exchanges. There is no reason why the claim made for the same treatment at the same hospital should need more than 3 hours, while AI can do it in 3 seconds. In India, insurers like ICICI Lombard, Bajaj Allianz, Aditya Birla Health, etc. have already implemented AI claim settlement.
Further, the customer can talk to a robo-advisor to get clarifications when only some part of the amount claimed is paid by the insurer. After all, the customers are buying “promise” from the insurers that they will pay-up when the moment of reality arrives. That faith can only be built through compassionate two-way communication, which in turn will be the reason for you stay with that insurer and renew your policies. Nobody wants to see a one-page document filled with jargon, when money is the topic of discussion.
Bridging the Payer-Provider-Customer gap
Many insurers are rapidly adopting AI-driven automation over manual processing because it drastically reduces the time taken to respond to a customer from more than 4 hrs to 45 minutes. As insurers optimise their systems and add AI for claim decision making, this is expected to come down to just 5 minutes. AI never has a bad day, its decisions are consistent and it further ensures transparent claim pay-out calculations to save hassles to customers. A technology-first insurance company will be able reduce leakages due to fraud, incorrect processing of hospital tariff, etc. and then offer you a savings on premium for a comparable policy.
(The author is Co-founder & CEO, i3 systems)