Tech & Insurance: Transforming into a tech business

July 01, 2021 2:15 AM

By investing in modern technology to automate customer on-boarding, policy issuances and claims assessment, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company aims to be future-proof and relevant

Ganessan Soundiram, chief technology officer, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company

By Srinath Srinivasan

Banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI) is a sector that offers plenty of opportunities for automation and enhanced customer experience. With an active vendor ecosystem, insurance businesses, today, are investing in high-tech innovations.

One such business that is proud about this digital transformation is ICICI Prudential Life Insurance. “We strongly believe that we are a technology company selling insurance. We have a dedicated team focusing on new-age technologies, radical digital transformation initiatives and innovation. We also continue to invest in products and solutions from startups or established partners having roots in India,” says Ganessan Soundiram, chief technology officer, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company.

At ICIC Prudential, AI is being used for underwriting, claims assessment, propensity for sale/renewal and personalisation through pre-approved offers. “We have employed multiple bots and Optical Character Recognition engines, while our email bot does auto-classification. We have a voice bot on IVR which received 1,5000-2,000 hits and 40% of inbound calls got transferred to an agent in FY2021,” says Soundiram. The company also has an AI-powered humanoid deployed for calling customers and reminding them to pay their renewal premiums.

Customer experience, simplification of processes such as onboarding journey, bulk policy issuance and instant call patch for medicals are some areas that are witnessing increased attention currently at ICICI Prudential.

“The initiatives around enhancing customer experience include collaboration platforms, Chatbots, WhatsApp for service, Smart document upload, video product brochures and video verification in vernacular languages. By focusing on these areas, we can leverage the digital space and provide an enhanced customer and distributor experience throughout the policy lifecycle,”explains Soundiram.

The digital journey for ICICI Prudential began in 2011-12. “This has given us a strategic competitive edge. Back then, insurance companies followed complex processes and managed paper-based policies. The digital transformation has put an end to this antiquated model,” says Soundiram. “We have since then seen phenomenal traction for our digital transformation initiatives.”

The insurance company boasts of a digital onboarding platform, embedded with pre-approved sum assured offering a contactless and instant issuance opportunity. In terms of customer service, it uses technology to follow what it calls ‘3Vs’ or ‘pillars of personalisation’ —video, voice and vernacular.

The return on investment has been encouraging for the business. “In FY2021, we received over 95% of our new business applications digitally, self-service is currently at 91.5%, and over 75% of our customers are completing video-based verification. Similarly, over 1.7 lakh meetings are being conducted using our collaboration platform, and 99% of robotic issuance is being done using a robotic arm with a cover note being created within five minutes,” says Soundiram.

The robotic issuance solution has helped in issuing 65lakh policies in just 3 days, which done manually would have taken approximately 130 days. To top it all, Soundiram says in FY2021, ICICI Prudential’s claim settlement ratio and turnaround time for claims settlement stood at 97.9% and 1.4 days, respectively, which he believes is the best in the industry and would not have happened without technology.

Any digital transformation process comes with its own challenges. “To list a few, there can be a legitimate resistance to change, a gap between technical promise and the genuine achievement of the initiative and inadequate promotion of the value that the product or solution offers,” says Soundiram. The focus has hence shifted on technology opportunities that have a clear relation with business value, at the insurance company.“By practising design thinking principles, we keep clutter and confusion away,” he adds.

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