Shreeraj Despande, Chief Operating Officer, Future Generali India Insurance explains how to sail through the choppy waters without compromising on services and how the industry has changed to serve customers better, during an interview with Nirmala Konjengbam. Edited excerpts.
Q: What kind of impact does the pandemic have on digital footprint of the insurance industry?
The natural way forward is to go digital in all spheres and concentrate on lines of business that would have more demand. Even intermediaries would adapt to digital methods much faster for onboarding clients. A major change will be brought in to adopt secure and remote working across organisations, while connecting to critical business applications. This is to ensure seamless service and support to policyholders and potential customers. Technology is playing a major role in successfully achieving business continuity.
At FGII, we developed e-proposals and live video-based applications for instant claim settlements. We also carried out virtual mediation for claim settlements during lockdown and the recent cyclone in the east.
On the distribution side, we are leveraging our digital and technological ecosystem to empower our intermediary partners and our sales staff with tools for end-to-end policy serving. We have developed and deployed web and mobile-based tools to ensure business continuity and seamless sourcing. These have API integrations and self-serving applications with STP capabilities. We have also come up with electronic proposal forms during lockdown. The team is also leveraging on technological platforms like WhatsApp and Microsoft teams to bridge the communication gap and cover the distance.
Q: Has the pandemic impacted traditional distribution channels? How are insurers dealing with this situation?
The industry is heavily dependent upon motor vehicle segment. About 37 per cent of premium and 25 per cent growth (FY20) in value terms come from this segment. The pandemic had severely affected the sales of motor vehicles, which will impact new business and the portfolio. The travel insurance business obviously has been badly hit. The lockdown has affected trade, resulting in loss of business from marine cargo. Sourcing business via retail channels and reaching out to customers are the biggest challenges, given the fact digital penetration, adoption and digital ecosystem are still evolving.
For most of these segments, the business was sourced from traditional channels driven mainly by agencies. We have intensified our focus on health insurance and renewals for segments with better margins. We have an ambitious plan to grow our agency channel and health vertical. We are deploying technology and redesigning operations for maximum straight-through processing and seamless transactions to facilitate intermediaries and increase ease of doing business. We are looking at product development and simplification to facilitate distribution growth. We are grooming our technology and process design to be ready for the business rush when life becomes normal.
Q: How are insurers tackling fraud claims during the pandemic?
We have a complete vertically-integrated health insurance arm, which has in-house servicing and analytics capabilities. Over the decade, with experience and technological refinements curated in-house, we have a robust fraud analytics across business segments. These are mainly data-driven and we also deploy sophisticated algorithmic software to analyse large volumes of claim data. This triggers flags in case of high fraud probabilities. These cases are manually analysed by our teams and necessary actions are taken.