A 2017 report forecasted that technologies such as AI, big data, and internet of things (IoT) would find its way into the insurance sector, an industry still considered to be very orthodox in the way it functions, in order to transform and digitalise customer service, risk assessment, and even fraudulent practice detection.
The prediction seems to have come true as we see these techniques making inroads into different aspects of the insurance industry, resulting in lowering costs with an increase in efficiency and customer experience.
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We spoke to Rohit Nambiar, Group Chief Executive Officer at Tune Protect Group Berhad, a Malaysia-based insurer which has branch offices in Thailand and UAE. Nambiar has been positioned to strengthen the lifestyle insurer in the domains of health, lifestyle, and SME space. A strong advocate of product and service personalisation by leveraging different digitalisation techniques, Nambiar shared with us some of the insights in this direction.
Technological Reform In Insurance
Rohit Nambiar joined the Tune Protect Group this year in October, after having worked with the multinational insurer AXA for 17 years, where he started his journey as an analyst, climbing up the ladder with time. With his new position at Tune Protect Group, Nambiar is entrusted with the digital transformation of the insurer within South East Asia and the Middle East.
Nambiar says that as an industry, the insurance sector has been long perceived as being laggard and ‘boring’. However, his optimism shines through as he believes that the current times have to be some of the most exciting periods of being part of this industry as it undergoes significant changes to cater to its growing base of ‘Millenials and Gen Z’ customers. “I personally believe that there is enough technology in the market to simplify the journey for our customers,” Nambiar said as he spoke about revamping the insurance industry that is ‘known to complicate matters rather than simplifying them’.
One aspect of simplification of the process lies in the personalisation of products as Nambiar notes. He says, “Data and tech can converge across various customer touchpoints. Technology has definitely made this whole experience much easier and can be accounted for in simplifying consumers’ experience. Once we know what consumer wants, then the choice of technology is easy, be it blockchain, AI, chatbots, etc.”
As per him, there are six major trends, supported by technology, that this industry is seeing and will continue to grow in the coming time:
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence-enabled chatbots and support channels will facilitate the omnichannel working model by facilitating and information sharing and standardisation. It means that customers will be able to move seamlessly between channels for interaction and choose their most preferred mode of buying.
- Hyper-customisation/hyper-personalisation and commoditisation of lower involvement products through digital and partnership channels.
- Rendering of sales, services, and claims through digital channels, especially for lower involvement products such as motor, travel, home, and simple protection.
- The scope of APIs in the insurance sector will increase, which will foster more partnership-driven sales.
- Liability as a product profile will no longer be restricted to businesses.
- There is bound to be a greater awareness of risks of complexity for all parties involved.
Challenges Of Digitalisation
Having about the scope of digitalisation in the insurance industry, Nambiar also noted a few significant challenges that insurers face in this direction. He said, “The speed of adoption can be a challenge for digitisation, especially with legacy software and infrastructure surrounding the existing business model. The new business model that is enabled by a variety of technologies such as data analytics, machine learning, and automation will require speed in implementation. Only then can insurers deliver hyper customised and hyper-personalised products and services, meeting the demands of their customers.”
Another aspect that Nambiar feels needs encouragement is the collaboration between insurers and tech players for the benefit of both parties. He said, “To encourage technology adoption in the industry, we need to push for greater collaboration between insurers and startups/tech players as there is so much that we can learn from each other. Our regulators have been supportive in guiding insurers on their digital journey, and hence I believe that insurers can thrive in their respective digital transformation.”
Nambiar also says that the COVID-19 situation has changed the way businesses across the spectrum operate. The unprecedented situation called for equally unprecedented measures in adopting new technologies that pushed people and businesses in adopting change quickly and effectively. He believes that this mindset of adapting to rapid changes must be adopted as a culture. “I am not a big believer in complicated frameworks and models around change. For me, change management starts with a consistent tone from the top on why we need to change, coupled with consistent actions evidencing the change. This cycle has to be repeated again and again and fine-tuned till it becomes a culture,” he stated.
From digitalisation of information about objects, people, and organisations through edge hardware, cloud technology, and the internet of things to using natural language processing for drawing value from unstructured data to adopting computer vision for enabling machines to extract meaning and context from visual data — there lies unlimited scope in how technology can revamp the how we view the insurance industry.
Nambiar wrapped up the interview giving a very important insight. He noted, “Organisations that embrace technologies rapidly have been proven to benefit from a customer experience perspective, as well as in their topline. Those who resist to change or rely on the old-age approaches will be at risk of being obsolete.”