The New Normal During COVID-19

Outlook Money|June 2020

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The New Normal During COVID-19
The way insurance sector works is changing, giving way to digital assessment, surveys and delivery
Arindam Mukherjee

Like all other sectors that have seen large scale changes in their operations because of COVID-19 pandemic and the crisis that it has brought about, the insurance sector in India is seeing new ways of doing business. This is true of all the segments of insurance, be it life, health, automotive or general.

From pitching for policies to selling them and from claim settlement to surveys, India is seeing new and innovative ways of working of insurance companies.

As the vast Indian population is working from home, insurance companies are discovering new ways of bringing insurance, policies, claims and surveys and settlement to people’s doorsteps by bringing in new and innovative ideas. Many companies have relied on self-assessment by customers in place of assessment by registered assessors. Some insurance companies are even asking customers to send self-made videos of their insured subjects like motor cars to renew policies.

Says Balachander Sekhar, CEO, RenewBuy, an insurance aggregator, “Companies are moving towards a contactless service. Increasingly, the branch will become a prehistoric dinosaur. We are using a totally contactless system where we sell through an app and issue the policy to the customer. Many other companies are also shifting to a contactless service during the pandemic so that the need for human intervention is minimized or totally eliminated”.

The current crisis has bolstered the adoption of digitisation and virtualization in the industry. Both - customers and the companies – have moved to engaging and selling via digital tools. From WhatsApp to customer portals and Chat Bots, to having virtual meetings, the industry has moved quickly on this path to ensure that business runs even during these restricted times and that their customer contact remains intact.

Says Prashant Tripathy, MD & CEO Max Life Insurance, “COVID-19 induced social distancing has restricted human interaction to non-physical touchpoints across the board. For the life insurance sector, which is traditionally dependent on bank branch walk-ins, agents, and customer meetings; enabling contactless servicing was the biggest challenge. But with companies continuously innovating their everyday operations to deliver a seamless customer journey, the way forward is digital. Right from sales to new policy issuance to claims management – operations across the entire value chain have been digitised, which has signalled the biggest change in the way the industry conducts its business.”

To ensure that new policies can be issued to customers during this continuing time of lockdown with no physical contact, insurance companies have also digitised their sales processes to accommodate social distancing.

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June 2020