Digital transformation is growing and evolving in 2020 due to the pandemic. We are talking about the IT Capabilities of the organizations, and how they are coping up with the current scenario. ICICI Lombard General Insurance Co. Ltd is a general insurance company in India. It is engaged in general insurance, reinsurance, insurance claims management and investment management.
Insurance companies are providing their solutions to their users with the help of technology. IT capabilities were major concern when a leading health insurer decided it was time to grow.
Girish Nayak, Chief-Customer Service, Operations and Technology, tells us more. Excerpts from an interview:
DQ: How has the dependability on machine learning and artificial intelligence increased with the Covid-19 pandemic?
Girish Nayak (GN): ICICI Lombard has always been at the forefront of adopting new technologies that help us in acquiring, retaining or in better servicing customers. As an organization, we have always been focused on digital adoption by customers and various stakeholders and partners including agents, dealership tie-ups, garages, hospitals.
For most of our sales partners, including distribution tie-ups, agents, brokers, we always had digital platforms for most of their day-to-day work such as quotes, policies and other transactions. They are also able to access all the information that they need in terms of products, processes and even payments digitally.
Over time, we have also adopted several artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) driven solutions both in sales, such as chatbots and RPA; and in service, image and video-based inspections, ICR/OCR and algorithm-based claims authorizations. With the urrent Covid-19 pandemic, we are seeing an increase in the adoption of our digital solutions, including the ones that leverage AI and ML.
Since insurance policies continue to be very technical, we also have chatbots that help in resolving the consumers queries immediately. During this time, all our private car motor own damage claims were intimated and surveyed through digital means.
Similarly, we used technology solutions to conduct remote inspection for a large part of our commercial claims as well. This event has enhanced our reliance on digital means of servicing, including reliance on AI and ML models that help us in both sales and servicing. As an organization, we continue to invest in these technologies and build solutions that will help us in even better servicing of our customers and stakeholders. A couple of examples where AI and ML has helped significantly are outlined below:
Medical claims processing : AI is being used to process the authorization of cashless claims as requested by the hospital. The policy related information, doctor’s diagnosis and the course of action recommended by the doctor is ingested in the AI algorithm, which decides the admissibility of the case. This was decided by a doctor at our end, earlier.
Based on the case admissibility, an ML program decides on the optimum claim amount to be sanctioned based on the overall policy sum insured and other parameters. The ML program sends a message to the effect to the hospital. This entire initial sanctioning process takes about 90 seconds. The same process when done manually would take a couple of hours.
Policy renewal: Typically, when a motor policy comes for renewal past its due date, a surveyor comes and checks the vehicle for any damages. This process is now AI enabled. The vehicle owner can take a few photographs and upload it for the AI algorithm to check for any damage. In case the vehicle has dents, spots, any kind of damage – then the AI engine decides, based on the photographs whether the policy is eligible for renewal or not. This renewal process, when done manually used to take about 72 hours depending on the availability of the customer and surveyor.
Now, it happens almost instantly and at the time the customer chooses. If the motor renewal case has not qualified to be handled by AI, a detailed virtual survey is subsequently conducted by the surveyor.
DQ: What about the settlement of claims? Did remote working and social distancing norms have any adverse effect in your settlement process?
GN: In recent times, touchless and contactless are the new buzzwords in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Consumers and organizations are leaning on the digital means of fulfilment. The insurance industry is no different, and it is continuing to create more digital means of servicing the customer. Customers can purchase insurance across various channels such as bank tie-ups, motor dealers, agents, brokers or directly through online and telephone channels.
We see customers continuing to have different channel preferences for buying insurance during this time as well. To cater to our customer’s needs across channels, we are focusing our energy on enabling each of these channels to have a seamless digital experience for the customer right from acquisition to policy issuance to servicing.
On the servicing front, we are seeing more customers adapting to our digital solutions. E.g., we have seen an increase in the number of motor customers using our Instaspect virtual motor survey solution in the case of an accident. We are extending our AI-based process currently used for lapsed motor renewals to help in processing motor claims. Similarly, in the field of health claims, we are using AI/ML solutions that help in processing cashless claims authorization requests that are made by the hospital.
Basis the policy information, the doctor’s initial diagnosis and recommended course of action, the AI algorithm determines the admissibility of the case and the ML algorithm determines the amount that needs to be sanctioned. This complete initial sanctioning process takes about 90 seconds. This is currently being done for ~50% of corporate health claims, mainly those that are simple cases while doctors can spend time on more complex cases.
We are also seeing customers using our tele-consult feature “Hello Doctor” on the IL Take Care app. This solution gives customers 24×7 access to a doctor for consultation though video to resolve their health issues. Recently, we launched a unique home care service for customers in collaboration with home service providers partners.
Here, doctors prescribe a treatment through tele-consultation after diagnosing the patient. The home care service will also include remote monitoring by a medical professional. If the need arises, nurses, doctors or physiotherapists can also come and check the patients at their residence.
DQ: The pandemic has also seen many companies adopting the “mobile first”strategy to meet the demand of India, which is primarily a “mobile internet”country. What steps have you taken in this direction?
GN: As a result of the current pandemic, every industry will need to digitally transform itself. This is what everyone has been calling the new normal. The insurance industry is no different and we are seeing more consumers adopting digital methods of interacting with insurance organizations.
At ICICI Lombard, even prior to the pandemic, we had multiple apps with features that were tailored to servicing customers. We have an app that caters to our agent distribution network where agents could service customers throughout their insurance lifecycle. During the pandemic, the usage of this app continued to be significantly high.
Our customer facing app, IL Insure, helped service customers including purchasing policies on the app, intimating and servicing of claims, adding coverages, availing roadside assistance. IL Assist, a telematics feature that combines with an on-board device to help in vehicle tracking, diagnostics monitoring and monitoring of driving behaviour is also available through the app.
Last year, we also launched our IL Take Care app which helps in customer servicing and engagement. This app has several features, including a Diet and Exercise Tracker, Step Count & Sleep Hours Tracker, Online chat with nutritionist and fitness experts, Second opinion on health-related queries and intimation of claims, to name a few. The utilization of our latest feature “Hello Doctor” on the IL Take Care app has increased multiple times during the pandemic.
DQ: How are you going in the direction of developing IT capabilities? What are the challenges in this direction?
GN: At ICICI Lombard, we have always been at the forefront of using new technologies that help us in acquiring, retaining, or servicing our customers better. With ever-increasing customer expectations, customer centricity has become more important than ever.
Moreover, you no longer have years of time to experiment and get your model right in this VUCA world – either you adapt or you perish. We would have to design new insurance products and distribution partnerships which can suit the lifestyle of today’s generation. So, we continue to move in the direction of helping the customers to buy an insurance policy as seamlessly as possible and in settling claims for such policies in near real-time.
Every interaction with the customer is helping us in better understanding the needs of the customer which in turn has helped us in designing some of the new products and services. This always is the backbone of developing our IT capabilities. However, living in a completely agile and fast-moving world, we constantly keep looking for new and innovative technologies that will help us in creating solutions for our customers and stakeholders.
In terms of developing capabilities, the World Economic Forum predicts that by 2022, 42% of core skills required to perform existing jobs are expected to change and that more than a million jobs are likely to be transformed by technology in the next decade. While it is true that there will be a larger need to develop technological and scientific skills, it is also going to be equally important to develop specialized skills in how people interact, collaborate, and create new products and solutions.
The best way to learn some of these skillsets is obviously to learn this in a real-world scenario. We constantly encourage our employees to develop innovative solutions using some of these new technologies. A lot of our AI and ML solutions are developed in-house by data scientists who have learnt these skillsets on the job.
We have deployed these AI/ML solutions on the cloud platform. We have worked with both leading technology providers to arrange for training programs for our employees and in certain cases, company-specific hackathons, which has helped our employees to learn and also create solutions on these platforms.
DQ: What kind of IT products and solutions would you like to have?
GN: The insurance industry continues to see new and rapidly evolving consumer expectations and behaviors emerging. This is primarily driven by an increased internet user base driven by the smartphone penetration within the country. This has also led to a fundamental shift in the way we serve our customers.
Today’s generation of digital natives are very much multi-media oriented, are extremely social digitally, prefer digital over physical interactions and ratings and reviews influence their buying decisions a lot. They prefer instant gratification, need highly personalized products, and brand loyalty is becoming a thing of the past.
On the other hand, we are also seeing a variety of emerging technologies and innovative business models that have the potential to transform the insurance business. Broadly, that includes ML and AI, IoT, telematics / telemetry, Big Data and data analytics, comparative engines and robo advisors, distributed ledger technology (DLT), Blockchain and smart contracts, as well as peer-to-peer, usage based or on-demand insurance models.
Newer technologies on the digital front, including AI and ML will play a major role in providing innovative solutions from a customer experience standpoint. As consumer expectations and behaviours change, we believe that the insurance industry will continue to change by embracing newer technology, be it through an AI chatbot that acts as a Virtual Insurance Advisor, or an AI detection model that acts as a Digital Claims Adjuster or a ML model that acts a smart underwriter.
There will be prolific use of AI, ML and cognitive services that will help address needs such as digital adoption, customer experience management, operational efficiency, underwriting profitability, claims optimization and much more.
Being at the forefront of technology and having the ability to create new-age solutions is the key to a successful technology-abled organization like ICICI Lombard. A lot of the digital solutions that we have created for servicing our customers and our stakeholders including intermediaries and hospitals/garages over the years has definitely helped us in the current situation.
We continue to put in a great effort in getting our customers and channel partners to adopt these solutions to stay in touch with us and perform all functions related to policy issuance and claims servicing. We continue to evaluate and pilot products and new services on the basis of some of the emerging technologies mentioned above.
Prioritization of key technological initiatives that are instrumental in servicing of customers holds the key for us to maintain a long term competitive advantage.
DQ: What are your thoughts on digital transformation, now that 2020 has nearly passed?
GN: We have already seen organizations working on digital transformation initiatives throughout this year. Within insurance itself, we are seeing new technologies emerging as outlined above. We are also seeing a large number of customer interactions through electronic mediums, including chat and email, for both purchase as well as for service.
We continue to see digital solutions in insurance that are centred around aggregation of information for distributors, agents and brokers to service customers digitally. It is important that the next wave of digital transformation in the insurance industry continues to focus on efficient ways of serving the customer and is quick enough to be able to adopt new technologies and services in line with consumer expectations.
It will not be long before we see a large adoption of AI, ML and cognitive services. We are hopeful that this new transformation is in line with consumer expectations and helps us to serve our customers better.