How to use technology throughout the insurance value chain – customer engagement, underwriting and claims management

A panel of senior insurance and insuretech leaders discussed transforming the different aspects of the customer experience, moderated by Max Ang, Insurance Analyst, CELENT.

Insurance customers across Asia have rising service expectations from the insurance industry, fueling a digital transformation from underwriting to claims management, but which centers on creating a more seamless customer journey.

The customer journey should not just be a matter for account management or a customer service team. “We want to change that so that the entire organisation – each and every single employee – is geared towards making the customer experience a great one,” said Shan Aboo, CEO ASEAN, Euler Hermes.

“Customers are becoming far more digitally savvy, there is a critical need for real-time self-service platforms, and this becomes even more important as the majority of our customer base becomes millennials,” Aboo said.

Matthias De Ferrieres, CEO, my-insurer, countered that although customers are tech-savvy, the value proposition of insurance in the minds of Asian consumers “remains poor and very low”.

He noted many failures among direct attempts by technology startups to break into Asian markets dominated by traditional insurers. The way for insuretechs to succeed and survive, he emphasized, is to partner with intermediaries in areas such as digital distribution and customer-facing solutions.

Only about 10% of Asian insurers have begun to embrace API technology for underwriting systems, noted suggested Paul Hughes, Head of Asia-Pacific, UnderwriteMe. The majority of systems in use are obsolete legacy systems that limit any gains in customer experience by their slowness, inflexibility and maintenance costs.

“For me the winners of the future will be those that seek out the right technology partners in plug-and-play API systems,” Hughes said.

Another drag on progress is the number of companies sitting within the chain. Dependance on the insurance agent model is much higher in Asia, than in Europe, noted Gerald Carroll, Area Vice President, Customer Workflows APJ, ServiceNow.

“In future as more people become tech savvy and lean on self-service, we’re going have to work with agents to help navigate their processes,” said Carroll. “You’re going to see a consolidation of technology, particularly in certain verticals such as health insurance, where there’s a big push to get the insurer and the healthcare provider onto a single platform to make that a more seamless process.”

Asked how insuretechs can optimize an agent-dependent market, De Ferrieres emphasized aligning solutions with regulations on financial advice and use of data, formulating product offers and discounts designed to appeal to agents, and facilitating agents’ jobs by optimizing processes such as for data collection.

“The way to go with agents is to help them generate leads, on-board those leads, and collect the right information to lead to the best products,” he said. “However, what’s missing is that the quotation process should be digitalized, but this will require insurance companies to develop APIs and share pricing models with the insuretech.”

The pandemic has already accelerated digitalization for agents, brokers and underwriters, observed Hughes. API and cloud-based underwriting engines will be crucial to continuing that modernization, as well as data and analytics, and artificial intelligence, all of which require the replacement of legacy systems before such technologies as a precursor to development, he suggested.

Shan underlined the importance of developing data to improve predictive modelling. “AI and machine learning will continue to have a tremendous impact on our underwriting,” he said. “Getting reliable data is less of a challenge today but to process it is a challenge of the future. Finally, counterparts need to be connected seamlessly by APIs to communicate data, which will benefit everyone in the value chain.”

Claims automation has lagged behind other areas of automation, Hughes suggested. Carroll emphasized that claims also represents a challenge to optimize the customer journey by balancing the effective use of AI technologies and self-service platforms with more empathic human customer engagement.

Customers care most about the claims submission process and the speed of payments, De Ferrieres. noted. “Those are the two basics and I believe we’re still far from transforming them,” he added.

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