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Insurance disruption in 2020: The big reset

Dipu KV, President – Operations, Communities, and CX at Bajaj Allianz and Michael Robinson, Vice President, Insurance, UK and EU at Genpact, reflect on a tumultuous year for insurers and what its changes mean for customer experience, the role of insurance, and future talent.

Pockets of digital transformation were happening across the insurance industry pre-2020, but they were happening in isolation and not synced across insurers' operations. The events of last year concentrated years of digital evolution into weeks and exposed the digital leaders and laggards across the industry.

The trends identified in Genpact's Insurance in the Age of Instinct research report have accelerated as insurers have had to deploy the right tools in the right places and connect them end to end. Bajaj Allianz, one of India's largest private insurers with offices in more than 1,100 towns and cities, had a digital head start compared to many insurers across the globe. The digital strategy and solutions it already deployed meant it could continue to offer seamless customer service, culminating in a Celent Model Insurer Award for its end-to-end digital and mobile app-based pre-policy medical checkup process.

Touchless tech

As COVID-19 forced insurers' offices to close, they had to quickly reimagine their end-to-end operations to adapt at pace to a virtual, touchless world. Bajaj Allianz directed customers to its existing digital channels. It had already integrated its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered bot with Alexa and Google Assistant so its customers could have seamless service by using voice rather than text. The use of its mobile app, by which customers can complete all of their requests, has soared, with more than 1 million downloads this year.

When making a motor insurance claim, customers can now submit a photo of the damage via a mobile app and – using both AI and machine vision – receive a claim assessment within 20 minutes. If they agree, the funds transfer straight into their account.

This touchless seamless experience continues when customers visit branches. There are now no handshakes involved. Instead, they scan bar codes to process requests such as claims and refunds.

This rapid digital evolution has placed experience at the heart of the customer journey. Genpact has seen the number of insurers looking to replicate this touchless, digital evolution increase several-fold and is working at scale to deliver to the new timelines set by the pandemic.

Reimagining insurance

The pace and scale of the changes insurers made in 2020 are remarkable, but there's no going back to the old ways of working. Customers will expect these new touchpoints to continue, presenting insurers with an opportunity to redefine their role in customers' lives with new products enabled by new data sources. One example is Bajaj Allianz's connected schools product that includes a nonintrusive tool parents can use to track a student's location. In health insurance, it has moved strategically from illness to wellness by offering a digital tool called Pro-Fit, by which customers can store all their health and medical information in one place and monitor their health. This shift to proactively preventing claims and playing a more holistic role in customers' lives echoes in Genpact's research and ongoing customer work, in which it predicts insurers will make the move from premium collectors to lifelong protectors.

Future talent

Even before the rapid adoption of new technologies seen in 2020, insurers knew they had to ramp up the digital skills in their workforce. One solution has been for employees to adapt and fill these gaps, moving from long-term jobs to a more flexible model by which they move between employers, taking time out as needed to learn the latest tools and techniques. Another route is for insurers to tap into the previously unavailable talent that has opened up as a result of the widespread adoption of remote working.

Bajaj Allianz has made its workforce part of its digital journey. Managers have a mix of humans and bots working for them, with staff reskilled in new technologies so that they are comfortable both using them and working alongside them. But it recognizes that even as its operations and customers move to a digital way of life, the human traits of care and empathy will become even more important.

Developing future talent is key to driving innovation in any sector but especially so for the insurance industry. Both Genpact and Bajaj Allianz share this vision, and both firms live and breathe its execution every day.

The big reset

COVID-19 has given carriers an opportunity for a huge reset. As black swan events become more frequent, a constant assessment and flexible agile responses to systemic risks are required. The insurers who successfully navigated the seismic changes of 2020 were those with workforces that were able to work alongside digital tools with the right mindset for change. It was a year of constant education – pushing people outside their comfort zones and embedding the mental adoption of new ways of working from a human perspective.

In retrospect though, customers have been the real winners. There are more communication channels, it's easier to make claims, and the new digital mindset is spawning new products. The B2C experience delivered by other industries is finally within insurers' grasp.

What's next?

Insurers and their service providers can reflect on the achievements and hurdles they've overcome together with pride. It's time to share learnings and knowledge with the wider industry and move beyond the initial fire-fighting response to a forward-looking, customer-centric, truly digital and real-time future, in which insurers become data companies in insurance rather than insurance companies with data.

Visit our insurance in the age of instinct page