To head one of the leading insurance firms with 230 + crore premium in a year, customarily from the retail clients paired along with its pan-India presence and also balanced by an equal mix of Life and Non-Life Insurance, is both a coveted and challenging job. The job mix makes the person most sought after in the Insurance Industry-Rakesh Goyal, the man behind the very successful ‘Probus Insurance Broker Pvt Ltd.’ (top 5 insurance brokers in India). An MBA graduate with a diploma in International Trade, Goyal has been in the field of financial services since 1996 bringing utmost understanding of the market and sharp thinking that has been the reason behind the continuous growth and success of Probus. Excelled in the fields of general and life insurance distribution, channel management, and relationship management, Goyal has implemented pioneering strategies for distribution and has helped build corporate relationships and management skills.
The Indian Insurance sector has seen a host of changes since it opened the sector to private enterprises allowing Indian companies to partner with foreign establishments two decades ago. We have seen hikes in foreign direct investments (FDI) in the insurance sector, mergers and acquisitions and listing of few insurers in the last few years.
However, the recent pandemic—Novel Coronavirus—has changed the way people bought insurance. Due to the lockdown to contain the spread of the virus, the government had announced lockdown across the country in March. The lockdown has been lifted in many parts of the country, but even now the life insurance industry is struggling to get new investors as investors prefer not to meet the agents.
Job losses cut in salary and uncertain future have also led to investors waiting at the side lines and not committing large sums into the life insurance sector. Things are likely to remain under stress in the time to come. In such a scenario it is more important for insurers to adopt technology that can help them deliver growth.
While insurance companies in India have been using technology for the last few years, the current pandemic will significantly accelerate it. We have been witnessing more and more use of technology by Indian insurance players in the last few months.
Recently, Bajaj Allianz Life Insurance launched a first-of-its-kind revolutionary technology service in the insurance industry ‘Smart Assist’. The service will enable customers to connect with the insurance company, through a secure screen sharing feature, to avail real-time assistance on completion of their buy journey, anywhere. Smart Assist is designed to help customers know all about their product while enjoying virtual assistance and maintaining the social distance protocol.
Smart Assist is designed to assist customers, especially first-time digital users, at a time when face-to-face meetings are becoming a challenge due to the pandemic. The service is available on the Company’s app that its sales representatives use—INS-tab. Customers can view product brochures, benefit illustration and also connect with senior experts using Smart Assist. This service is designed to enhance the digital experience of customers and further delight customers interacting with the company.
We have insurance companies and web aggregators from where we can buy the policy and later it can also get serviced at the click of the button. But more needs to be done for pricing and claims management by the industry. Even insurance regulators have asked insurers to adopt new technology and help their agents to provide insurance in such scenarios.
Another life insurance company, HDFC Life announced the launch of Ezra, the Google Assistant bot. Ezra is the latest addition to the company’s family of digital assistants. Ezra is a smart bot having cutting-edge software engineering like dynamic query processing and natural language processing, which are critical to producing a human experience. Ezra offers intelligent services like handling of dynamic queries and offering insights into policies. The bot can successfully answer more than 200 queries. Earlier in May 2020, the launch of Elsa, an Alexa bot, was one of the solutions provided for ease of policyholders.
12 years ago, the global financial crises led new players like fintech’s in the payment systems. Will the Covid-19 lead the insurance sector in India to adopt new technologies to improve processes such as underwriting and fraud management, among others. But the time will only tell the answers a few years down the line.