How technology is transforming Life Insurance business – ET CIO

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By Ashish Rao

Samir Chaudhary was a tall, lanky gentleman who took long strides while walking and always came across as someone who was running against time—brimming with energy even after those grueling 12-14 hours shifts at the factory floor, where he dedicated 36 years of his life. However, it’s not his undying loyalty to the factory floor for which he will be remembered. Instead, it’s the lakhs of policies that he sold to his colleagues and his colleague’s sons and daughters that people will remember him for.

He was a prolific life insurance sales agent who would swing by people’s houses, explaining life insurance policies features and repeating the act many times to close the deal. He would always carry a bag full of documents that his customers had to sign each time he completed a deal. He would then carry all required KYC documents and policy documents and courier them to the regional life insurance corporate office. It would take another approximately 15 days for the policy to get issued, after which he would revisit his customer’s house to hand over the final policy documents.

The entire process required a minimum of three meetings with the customers, followed by an arduous process of sending documents to the insurance office and getting the policy issued, which would take another 10-15 days. It was the late 90’s, and the insurance revolution was about to hit and change the landscape for good.

Buying a life insurance policy has always involved signing multiple documents and furnishing an equal number of hard copies of KYC documents. It also meant the filled-in application or proposal form had to be physically deposited with the life insurer by the agent. This process resulted in a substantial time lag between submitting documents to the policy being issued and received by the customer.

Over the years, customers’ preferences have changed, and the industry has sought to make the entire process smooth and seamless with the use of cutting-edge technology. Today brochures have been digitalised, product videos are available for explaining the features and benefits, and real-time KYC authentication is the norm of the day offering customers a hassle-free and virtually paperless policy purchase experience.

Today, life insurers have incorporated Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning in their day-to-day operations to automate complex tasks, ensure error-free transactions, and reduce turnaround times. This has enabled a faster proposal verification and approval process, allowing customers to purchase life insurance with just a few clicks. Technology has changed the entire life insurance purchase paradigm from being complex to becoming friction-free and issuing policies in minutes.

Some life insurers are offering unique propositions called Pre-Approved Sum Assured or PASA, which are similar to pre-approved loan offerings by banks. These offers are extended to customers meeting a certain fixed criterion who can purchase a policy on the basis of a single health declaration. The life insurers use the KYC authentication done by the bank to complete formalities and issue a policy. Since there are no other interventions, the purchase is end-to-end customer-initiated and the journey concludes in just three clicks on their smartphones.

Similarly, customers have a plethora of options to choose from when paying their renewal premium. Gone are the days when agents would visit houses and collect renewal cheque. Today customers can choose to pay their renewal premiums through various online payment gateways such as debit/credit card, UPI, Google Pay, etc. Customers can also choose to enable an auto-debit facility by signing an e-mandate form with the life insurer, deducting the renewal premium amount from the bank account on the due date. This gives customers a respite from remembering their renewal premium payments dates and enjoying the benefits of their policies without any interruptions.

Some life insurers have run pilot projects with a speech recognition AI-powered “Humanoid” solution for renewal premium reminder calling that can reach out to thousands of customers in an hour and converse with them in multiple languages.

Life insurance is an essential product that provides the foundation on which one can build their financial plan. The experience of purchasing one is now easy and hassle-free. It only takes a few clicks to provide the much-needed protection to your loved ones as well as ring-fence the family’s savings. Life insurers are continuously innovating to simplify life insurance as they have a more significant societal role of ensuring that Indian families are protected and achieve their financial goals.

A 3 click purchase journey across all product categories is a distinct possibility in the near future.

The author is Chief – Customer Experience & Operations, ICICI Prudential Life Insurance Company

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