By Casparus Kromhout
Higher internet adoption and the demand for smartphones have fed on each other to lead to an increased acceptance of fintech systems, e-health and e-learning platforms and online payment tools. The Central Government’s ‘Digital India’ initiatives have further improved the penetration and reach of digital technology, particularly in rural geographies, especially in the insurance segment where the turnaround time (TAT) is a critical factor for the insured.
As the country embraces a digital revolution at the behest of its 750 million smartphone users, insurance providers are positioning themselves in unique ways to insure more lives with just a few taps on their phones. For example, a quick and easy video MER (Medical Examination Report) for underwriting has reduced the issuance TAT considerably. Again, automated processes and data analytics are proactively addressing customer needs and improving the service TAT.
Technology has eliminated the need for customers to travel long distances to avail of products or services. Digital payments, particularly UPI, has revolutionised payment and purchase transactions. It has eliminated the need for customers to be physically present at the point of sale/service.
In insurance, technology has positively impacted several avenues centering the insurer. Life insurance companies have created various technology-embedded processes to facilitate easy settlement of claims.
These technological interventions have expedited various processes into robust policy enablers:
eKYC – A Landmark Achievement
The UIDAI’s approval of e-KYC certification for insurance companies marks an important towards instant and secure customer on-boarding. This has been a remarkable step in the policy aggregation process, helping insurance agents replace mounds of paperwork and image uploading with something simple such as an OTP. Certified eKYC agencies are still hard to find; partnering with one can greatly enhance the chances of obtaining cover even in the rural interiors where one has a basic document like Aadhar.
ECS Mandates Made Simple
Achieving good persistency ratio depends on whether technology enables users to pay their renewal premiums in the easiest way possible. Linking bank accounts to smartphones is a sure shot way to bolster Electronic Clearing Service (ECS) which helps auto debit premiums for free. In rural markets, this service is a core differentiator of policy continuity, especially in areas where are there no banks or insurance companies.
Claims & Other Services
For the rural clientele, claims have undergone a sea-change in their response patterns. Technology offers companies to be more focussed and empathetic in their approach by matching all that with speed and clarity. The possibility of using vernacular languages on digital platforms has broken many barriers in reaching these customers. In Shriram Life Insurance, for example, non-early claims are settled within 12 hours considering almost half of the claims are from the rural segment.
With technology in place, customers can make nominee-related changes and actively regulate their policies the way they want than having an external person do it for them. It also serves as a touchpoint for major regulatory changes despite offering a broad scope of value-add services.
Many digital interventions based on app technology, chatbots, voicebots, Artificial Intelligence, Virtual BoTs, Sales Force software, etc., will further help customers from rural and semi-urban India to access and take advantage of insurance products. Soon, the consumer experience in India’s villages will be on par with those living in India’s bigger cities.
(The author is the MD & CEO of Shriram Life Insurance Company. Views expressed above are those of the author and not necessarily of financialexpress.com)