Insurance Article, The Insurance Times 2021, The Insurance Times March 2021

Insurance disruption in 2020: The big reset

 

Dipu KV, President – Operations, Communities, and CX at Bajaj Allianz and Michael Robinson, Vice President, Insurance, UK and EU at Genpact, reflect on a tumultuous year for insurers and what the changes mean for the customer experience, the role of insurance, and future talent.

 

Pockets of digital transformation were happening across the insurance industry pre-2020, but they were isolated and not synched across insurers’ operations. The events of this year have concentrated years of digital evolution, this concentration of pace has been reduced to weeks and exposed the digital leaders and laggards across the industry.

 

The trends identified in Genpact’s Insurance in the Age of Instinct research have accelerated as

insurers had to to deploy the right tools in the right places and connect them end-to-end.Bajaj Allianz, one of India’s largest private insurers with offices in over 1,100 towns and cities,had a digital head start compared to many insurers across the globe. Its digital strategy and solutions already deployed meant it could continue to offer seamless customer service, culminating in picking up a Celent Model Insurer Award for its end-to-end digital and mobile app-based pre-policy medical check-up process.

 

Touchless tech

As COVID-19 forced insurers’ offices to close, they had to quickly reimagine their end-to-end operations to adapt at pace to a virtual, touchless world. Bajaj Allianz directed customers to its existing digital channels. It had already integrated its AI-powered bot with Alexa and Google Assistant so its customers could have a seamless service by using voice rather than text. The use of its mobile app, where customers can complete all their requests, has soared, with over one million downloads this year.

 

When making a motor insurance claim, customers can now submit a photo of the damage via a mobile app and using a combination of AI and machine vision, receive a claim assessment within 20 minutes. If they agree, the funds are transferred straight into their account.

 

This touchless seamless experience continues when customers visit branches, now there are no handshakes involved, they scan barcodes instead to process requests such as claims and refunds.

 

This rapid digital evolution has placed experience at the heart of the customer journey. Genpact has seen the number of insurers looking to replicate this touchless, digital evolution increase several-fold and is working at scale to deliver to the new timescales set by the pandemic.

 

Reimaging insurance

The pace and scale of the changes insurers have made this year are remarkable, but there’s no going back to the old ways of working. Customers will expect these new touchpoints to continue, presenting insurers with an opportunity to redefine their role in customers’ lives with new products enabled by new data sources. One example is Bajaj Allianz’s connected schools product that includes a non-intrusive tool so parents can track a student’s location. In health insurance, it has moved strategically from illness to wellness by offering a digital tool called Pro-Fit where customers can store all their health and medical information in one place and monitor their health. This shift to proactively preventing claims and playing a more holistic role in customers’ lives is echoed in Genpact’s research and ongoing customer work, where it predicts insurers will make the move from being premium collectors to lifelong protectors.

 

Future talent

Even before the rapid adoption of new technologies witnessed in 2020, insurers knew they had to ramp up the digital skills in their workforce. One solution is for employees to adapt and fill these gaps, moving from long term jobs to a more flexible model where they move between employers, taking time out to learn the latest tools and techniques in between. Another route is for insurers to tap into the previously unavailable talent that has opened up as a result of the widespread adoption of remote working.

 

Bajaj Allianz has made its workforce part of its digital journey. Managers have mix of humans and bots working for them, with staff being reskilled in new technologies so they are comfortable both using them and working alongside them. But it recognizes that even as its operations and customers move to a digital way of life, the human traits of care and empathy will become even more important.

 

Developing future talent is key to drive innovation in any sector but especially so for the insurance industry. Both Genpact and Bajaj Allianz share this vision and both firms live and breathe its execution everyday.

 

The big reset

COVID-19 has given carriers an opportunity for a huge reset. As black swan events become more frequent, a constant assessment and flexible agile responses to systemic risks are required. The insurers who successfully navigated the seismic changes of 2020 were those with workforces able to work alongside digital tools and with the right mindset for change. It’s been a year of constant education – pushing people outside their comfort zones and embedding the mental adoption of new ways of working from a human perspective.

 

In retrospect though, customers have been the real winners. There are more communication channels, its’ easier to make claims, and the new digital mindset is spawning new products. The B2C experience delivered by other industries is finally within insurers’ grasp.

 

What’s next?

As 2020 draws to a close, insurers and their service providers are reflecting on the achievements and hurdles they’ve overcome together.It’s time to share learnings and knowledge with the wider industry and move beyond the initial fire-fighting response to a forward-looking, customer-centric, truly digital and real time future, where insurers become data companies in insurance rather than insurance companies with data.

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