The pandemic has made the penny drop for the insurance industry. Things have started changing in the last six-seven months, with a massive surge in demand for protection plans like life and health. The growing digital footprint has not only enhance accessibility but has also eased up the process of purchase.
For Star Health and Allied Insurance, online sales in the first two-quarters of the financial year 2020-21, has seen a marked increase of 31 per cent. Managing Director Anand Roy says the insurer has settled over 28,320 COVID-19 claims, during an interview with Nirmala Konjengbam. Edited excerpts.
Q: What is the percentage of offline and online health insurance sales?
Given the current socio-economic scenario, we have seen a marked increase in online insurance sales this year. During the last fiscal, our online sales contributed to 25 per cent of the total sales during Q1 and Q2, while 75 per cent was through various offline channels. This year we witnessed a 31 per cent increase in online sales during Q1 and 29 per cent during Q2. Our offline sales during Q1 was 44 per cent and Q2 stood at 46 per cent.
Q: What changes have been done across the insurance value chain to meet the demand?
Considering the surge in demand, we have simplified the user journey across all our services. We have introduced an online self-service option to avoid human intervention. The process of procuring policy documents has been simplified. All our customers can now download a copy of their policy through their registered mobile number. To reduce human contact, we opted for paperless transactions and have started accepting digital documents for policy sales and claims. To simplify and quicken claims, we have introduced an online claim process. We have also up-skilled our agents and employees to seamlessly conduct sales through online channels due to which more than 50 per cent of our sales have now come from the digital space.
Q: How are insurers dealing with COVID-19-related claims?
We have introduced an online claim process and have started accepting digital documents to ensure quick and efficient claims processing. All efforts have been taken to ensure a quick turnaround time on COVID-19 claims and we have settled over 28,320 COVID-19 claims to date.
Q: What will be the long-term changes in the health insurance industry?
The pandemic has driven a sudden realisation around the significance of protective investments, especially when it comes to the aspects of health and life security. Health insurance has definitely taken the front seat both from the perspective of securing access to quality healthcare as well as investing in managing healthcare finance. We expect this trend to continue in the long term and health insurance instruments will contribute a major share of the overall insurance sales in the country.