With the aim of making insurance simple, Digit Insurance, Bengaluru-based insur-tech company has ventured completely onto the technology road. It is adopting analytics and data science to revolutionise the insurance space and make it completely digital. Founded by Kamesh Goyal, who has been associated with the insurance space for over two decades, Digit is backed by Fairfax Group, which is amongst the largest General Insurance companies in the world. Digit started operations in December 2017 and have had an investment of $94 million till now over two rounds.
Analytics India Magazine caught up with Vishal Shah, Head of Data Sciences at Digit Insurance to get an insight into the technology they use to make the entire process, including inspections, completely digital. In fact, Digit is one of the first insurance companies to be fully on cloud-enabling extremely fast scaling and disaster recovery. With a total headcount of 1000+, Digit boasts of a strong analytics and tech team.
Analytics India Magazine: How is Digit Insurance coping as a new general insurance startup in India when there is already so much competition in the space?
Vishal Shah: While a lot of insurance companies have gone the digital way, we believe that just being online or having technology enabling processes is not enough. Technology should enable simplicity and that has been the goal for Digit from day one of operations.
Digit Insurance was started with a mission to ‘Make Insurance Simple’. The insurance industry was struggling to gain the trust of the customers with traditional processes, lengthy and jargon-filled documentation and never-ending claims cycles. Digit aimed to change all of this and more.
Today, with the way we have transformed the traditional insurance processes from on-boarding to claims of the customer, we have been able to cross a base of 3 million customers with a premium of 1200+ crores and more than 35000 claims. All this within a span of 17 months of operation!
AIM: How did the idea of founding Digit Insurance conceptualize? How has been the journey so far?
VS: It was founded by Kamesh Goyal and the core team consisted of 7 other powerful minds with great experience and diverse fields of knowledge. When Digit’s initial team got together, the one thing that bothered them was how much insurance was distrusted by people. Terms and conditions that were written to maintain clarity were indeed looked with a sceptical or a helpless eye.
This introspection led to Digit’s mission to ‘Make Insurance Simple’. If there is one thing that would truly make a difference to people in the insurance context, it is busting complexity and bringing in simpler insurance. Our idea was to simplify the insurance customer’s journey and provide them with a happy experience. We have been successful in doing so with our customers providing us with 72% Net Promoter Score (NPS), a score that no other insurance company has been able to claim. Even our investor, Mr Prem Watsa from Fairfax Holdings, has shown his faith in our growth by showing an interest in wanting to take our business model to the global markets.
AIM: How is Digit Insurance reimagining products and processes to provide unique offerings to the customers?
VS: At Digit, we make sure that the product built for the customers addresses their pain points and is provided with the utmost care to make the customer’s journey simple and hassle-free like we would for our family. Some of the reimagined offerings that we provide are mentioned below:
Customised products: We offer products that make sense for people and their fears. If someone fears only about their screen’s damage which is 65% of the damage cases in India, they needn’t go the full hog and buy a theft and all damages product, they can simply choose to protect their screens only.
Products that can be bought for one’s own family: Digit has made claim terms in a way that are beneficial for themselves and their families. For example, Digit started with 75 min flight delay benefit (the common ones) and 2 hours checked-in baggage delay benefit that are the common ones in comparison to industry norms like 6 hours of a flight delay, 6 hours of checked-in baggage delay, that rarely happens. And when it comes to the flight delay, people don’t even need to claim. 100% of our flight delay claims are automated i.e. when a flight is delayed beyond the stipulated time, an SMS is auto-triggered for a claim and people just need to send their boarding pass and their claim money is paid.
Super-simple, Paperless, Smartphone-enabled claims: In one of the consumer researches conducted, a customer said, ‘I know that whenever I’ll claim, there would be something hidden somewhere in the document that denies my claim!’. That’s the sorry state of affairs when it comes to claims, even before claiming there’s a sense of rejection! So, we deep dived into what goes wrong actually and devised solutions.
|The problem||The solution|
|People don’t understand the terms clearly||We launched Simple to understand docs with summaries explaining exactly what’s covered and what’s not|
|When it’s time to claim, they are loaded with documents to be submitted in hard-copies||Paperless insurance: Everything is accepted as soft-copies and can be sent as pictures clicked on a smartphone|
|They wait for days for inspection/ surveys to be done before a claim estimate is drafted for them||DIY Self-inspections: Given the usage of smartphones is ubiquitous, it made sense to use the technology for claims too, replacing some manual processes. Where earlier people waited for weeks for a third-party inspector to come and check their car’s damage, now people can do it with an easy app on their smartphones through sharing images and videos, all this in minutes. No wonder 95% for mobile and travel are done through self-inspection|
Simple documents: The foundation of any good relationship is clarity in communication. Insurance documents are written by lawyers for the common men and women, which is difficult to understand. We took all the documents for their new products, word by word and re-wrote them in simple English, jargon-less. We also added, ‘Digit translations’ to it i.e. simple translations of complicated definitions. We also created a simple, 2-page summary document for all plans explaining ‘What’s covered’, ‘What’s not covered’ and ‘Claims process’.
To test the simplicity of this document, we planned a torture test by showing them to kids, 8-15-year olds. The idea was that if these kids got it, adults definitely would. 15-year olds understood the summary perfectly.
AIM: How are you using analytics at Digit Insurance? Please explain with use cases.
VS: Technology plays an important role in enabling our entire ecosystem, across distribution, buying and claims process. One of our use cases for analytics is image analytics. We use image analytics to decipher the damages to say, a car, which quickens the claims process. This helps us and the customer in reducing the time required for the inspection process from days to minutes. The customers scan their vehicle to share images that detect any damage or loss at the time of claims or even a license plate at the time of taking a policy.
AIM: What are the other emerging technologies that you are using to make insurance offerings completely digital (Such as AI, machine learning)? And how?
VS: We have an application programming interface (API) integrations for all our partners, including Policy bazaar, Amazon India, and so on that helps us provide seamless service to customers through these partners.
We have in-house built apps that help faster claim settlement. For example, our travel delay claims are 100% automatic, the customer getting an SMS to send his boarding pass and bank details as soon as the flight is delayed beyond the given time. We incorporate machine learning which helps us do faster reconciliation, float management, fraud management, and claims settlement.
The use of AI will bring down management costs and reduce turnaround time. Digit’s claims process is paperless and image-based and Seven out of ten Digit customers have chosen to do their vehicle inspection through the self-survey link.
AIM: How are you using analytics in various processes such as inspection, customer satisfaction and more?
VS: Digit Insurance uses analytics and other technologies for fastening the insurance processes in various ways. It is used in the pre-inspection app, that helps in faster turn-around time for claims. The app allows you to take 8 or 10 pictures, which gets loaded into the system automatically through the link. For bike particularly, AI recognises some basic checks like bike registration number, the colour of the bike. This fastens the process of inspection and therefore also of policy issuance. 88% of the Pre-Inspection cases for the motor being processed below 2 hours.
Our self-inspection is a smartphone-based solution and simply uses people’s cameras to complete the process and given the widespread use of smartphones, this is a simple solution which people have started adapting to. Self-inspection app data for motor overall has cut down inspection time from days to 10 minutes, 85% of our Inspection Cases are checked within 10 minutes and 87% of our motor claims being approved in 24 hours.
Talking about the analytics tools, we broadly build our tools in-house. But we use analytics tools like Python, BI tools such as IBM Cognos, visualization tools such as Power BI, databases such as Postgres and Datalakes such as Hortonworks.
AIM: What have been the benefits of running completely on the cloud? What are the offerings that you are going to bring to offer a unique experience?
VS: We are operating 100% on cloud and are one of the first Indian insurance companies to do so. Being on the cloud enables us to scale up quickly. Especially for a new company like us who are competing with entrenched players, handling increasing volumes could have been challenging but with being 100% on cloud, we overcome this and are able to meet the demand immediately instead of waiting for months for the infrastructure or hardware.
We are working on using technology to make claims faster for the customer, with minimum checks and manual intervention. From a partner standpoint, we are working on tech solutions to empower the SMEs.
AIM: How has the growth story been so far?
VS: Today, Digit Insurance has crossed a landmark achievement of 2.8 million customers within a short span of 16 months of operation and achieving 1200 crores in FY18-19 with a remarkable 72 per cent Net Promoter Score (NPS) and 35,000 claims.
Building a team with 50-50 talent from insurance and e-commerce industry was the first best organisational decision made. This gave us an insight into how customers looked at our documents, processes, and overall company strategy. We transformed the way the industry worked after receiving feedback on the need for simplicity and faster turn around on processes. We believe that customer centricity, transparency and faster service are the tools which will lead to achieving the company’s vision.
AIM: What is your roadmap for analytics and other technologies such as AI and machine learning at Digit Insurance?
VS: For the future, we are continuing to work on simplifying insurance and the claim process. We will soon be launching ‘Video Call for better customer experience’ and that should enable customers to have face time for their grievances and solutions. We have plans to come up with used mobile insurance, health insurance products and further increasing our technology presence in areas beyond claims management.
We are also currently working on developing artificial intelligence (AI) for assessment of damage to an automobile’s exteriors by scanning images and matching them with its library containing various car parts and their repair costs.