InsureTech

India is an emerging player in the InsureTech space: Samrat Das, CIO, PNB MetLife

InsureTech has tremendous potential in India, and Samrat Das, CIO, PNB MetLife, tells DataQuest how technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Analytics, and chatbots will revolutionise the industry

DQ. Where is India placed with respect to InsureTech vis-à-vis global InsureTech scenario?

As per a recent survey conducted by PWC India on insurance technology adoption, 67% of insurance customers prefer to leverage aggregators or online platforms which enable them to make calculated and informed decisions by comparing different products.

The growing millennial population of India and cheaper mobile data plans along with the rise in usage of smartphones are the driving force for buying financial products and services using technology. However, the maturity and confidence of buying/transacting financial products via a technology platform still need to be developed in the hinterlands. Considering a considerable Indian population hails from the rural areas, awareness needs to be initiated for gaining customer confidence to transact using technology mediums like online purchase or through mobile apps.

At present, consumers from top metros are showing comfort in buying insurance products online. However, the purchase pattern is seen more in categories such as Motor, Travel and Home Insurance. For Life insurance, terms plans are seeing traction in online purchases. Other Life Insurance products still adopt the traditional approach of face-to-face interactions.

India is an emerging player in the InsureTech space, but it has a long journey to traverse for consumers to place their confidence in the tool.

DQ. What is the future of Insure Tech in India?

Owing to the huge underpenetrated market, life insurance in India has huge growth potential. Post entry of private players, the life insurance landscape in India has changed rapidly.

Gone are the days when digitization in life insurance was restricted only to display of offline products and generating leads. Now life insurers are moving away from the one-size-fits-all approach to collaborating InsureTech startups to offer customized customer solutions.

At PNB MetLife, we follow the 3Ds approach of Digitize, Data and Disrupt, wherein we digitize our day to day processes, which enables us in seamless customer delivery; we mine data and draw insights to mark predictable behavior of the customers, thereby paving us the way to be future-ready; we believe that digital landscape is constantly evolving and hence we disrupt to keep our digital journey ongoing.

As a part of this endeavor, we constantly look out for InsurTech partners, who can help in enhanced customer delivery. One such initiative was our recent tie-up with Fintech Yatra wherein we met with 11 start-ups to seek solutions related to expanding distribution reach for digital lending, improving efficiency and developing a new digital product proposition. I believe that digitization is a journey with new milestones being identified everyday.

DQ. How can InsureTech help in addressing the problem of under penetration in the Indian insurance sector?

I think today InsurTech is mainly facilitating the reach and helping to identify the new customer segments.

The industry will be required to show agility and adaptability for client acquisition. The need for disruptive technology tools to communicate with the diverse set of consumers will be the need of the hour. Awareness building is another area that will need to be addressed at the current consumer touch-points.

As per the PWC report  digitisation can reduce around 15–20% of the cost of life insurance. This will help life insurers to foray into new geographies and tap new customer segments easily, along with offering enhanced customer experience in quicker TAT.

DQ. Kindly throw some light on some of the trends in the InsureTech space

With the world being subjected to a dynamic wave of technical acceleration in every field, it has become very important to ride this wave of change to enhance our customer services.

As per a recent EY report, today customers prefer buying products online and want seamless access to communicate largely through the mobile channels. Also today customers want more frequent, meaningful and personalized communications. Whereas when we speak from a life insurance agent’s point of view, they want better tools on the carrier portals to ease their communication with the customers.

Here are some trends, which I have been noticing in the life insurance space:

  • The Internet of Things (IoT): The technology of IoT which enhances capabilities of any company by offering a global network of sensor-enabled, connected devices has the power to transform and truly disrupt the life insurance industry.
  • The trend of blockchain technology, which helps in bringing all parties on one common platform while simplifying the quote and claim processes
  • Analytics is another upcoming trend, which is yet to be utilized to its full capacity. Although insurers recognize the power of analytics to grow, optimize and protect value, they are still far from the evolved stage required to transition to value-driven decision-making. Evolution in predictive analytics will enable insurance companies in getting a better understanding of the customer needs, in turn, helping to meet their demands.
  • Chatbots and various other AI-enabled technologies have already entered the Indian Insure Tech ecosystem and will definitely be scaled and evolved in the times to come. At PNB MetLife, we have partnered with LumenLab, which also acts as MetLife’s innovation center for Asia, to launch AI-enabled customer service app called ‘khUshi’, that can chat with existing or prospective customers and help respond to their policy-related queries and conVRse, a virtual reality customer service application. Besides our usage of robotics in day to day processes like the issue of auto-debit receipts for example, has enabled us to minimize cost and have reduced out TAT. All our technological innovations are guided by our two core values – ‘Make Things Easier’ and ‘Put Customer First’

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