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Here’s how Insurtechs are evolving India’s Insurance landscape during the Pandemic

7 minutes read

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent global lockdowns triggered plenty of structural changes that forced insurance companies to enter the arena with their eyes on the prize. The pandemic year thus proved to be a catalyst, in turn, nudging insurers to shift their focus and prioritize customer experience, market agility, and business resilience. 

According to BCG, “Globally, insurtechs raised $7.5 billion last year, as COVID-19 accelerated the need for digital transformation in insurance.” 

Investor funding in insurtech came to $5 billion in the first quarter of 2021 with 261 deals, according to Forrester’s “Insurtech funding roundup, Q1 2021” report. 

How has the pandemic impacted Insurtechs in India 

India is the second-largest insurtech (insurance technology) market in the Asia-Pacific region, accounting for 35% of the $3.66 billion of venture capital coming into the sector, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

“Insurance technology investors are attracted to India since it is one of the fastest-growing insurance markets in the world,” said the report. 

Insurance premiums in India have been reported to have totaled $107 billion in India until March 31, 2020, growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 10% from FY15 to FY20. 

“While big techs are vying to become digital intermediaries in the insurance space, established carriers are building proprietary digital channels. Startups that assist both incumbents and big techs in making this transition will likely emerge as winners,” the S&P report continued.

“Partnerships between large insurers and insurtechs have the potential to enable more personalized online distribution, predictive underwriting, and more efficient claims management,” said Alpesh Shah, managing director and senior partner, Boston Consulting Group while speaking with the business daily, Mint. 

The fast-growing industry is introducing solutions for AI-based underwriting, virtual claim filing, among others. The next big revolution could come in the form of blockchain contracts, where customers might not need to file a claim. Bajaj Allianz General Insurance has already introduced a travel insurance product that uses blockchain to settle claims on flight delays automatically.

In another scenario, Acko General Insurance tied up with over 20 digital platforms across retail, travel, finance, and others to distribute bite-sized insurance. Ola’s trip insurance by Acko has insured more than 23 million rides in less than 10 months and is being hailed as one of the most innovative insurance products in the industry.

Another Insurtech startup, Toffee Insurance, offers insurance against theft or damage to bicycles and accidental injuries related to a fitness activity or sport.

Image Courtesy: fintechnews.sg 

Speaking about the Insurtech evolution and their funding in India, BCG’s India Insurtech Landscape and Trends reports that, “Global funding in Insurtechs have grown from about $2 billion in 2016 to $6 billion in 2020. While Americas account for the largest share of funding (68 percent of funding in 2020), Asia has been the fastest-growing geography till 2019 (5-year CAGR of 60 percent). In India too, albeit with a smaller base, funding has seen an increase from a modest base of $11 million in 2016 to $287 million in 2020. The funding trend has continued with Turtlemint raising $30 million in November 2020 and Digit raising around $84 million at the start of 2021.” 

“APAC-based insurtechs attracted $1.4 billion—up 15% year-over-year from the previous year—driven by companies headquartered in China ($800 million) and India ($450 million). Representative examples are Medbanks, a medical database-services company offering oncology-related services, which brought in $305 million in Series E+ funding, and Policybazaar, a price-comparison portal that raised $130 million in Series E+ funding,” the report continued. 

Insurers vs. Insurtechs in the current ecosystem

Image Source: everis.com 

Claims in the digital age

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, customers had already begun leading digital-centric lives that required insurers to rethink their MO and strategies. “With the demands and constraints of the pandemic, a technology-enabled service delivery with a digital claims process is non-negotiable and mission-critical. In the past, these needs may have gone unmet due to lack of technology solutions or an insurer’s inability to capitalize on technology, but the situation today is very different,” reports Deloitte. 

The COVID-19 pandemic affected Insurtech firms on various levels, impacting demand, claims, and loss patterns in a number of ways across product lines and operating models. 

Thus, arose a need to overhaul and reset the core value system and give way to a new growth engine led by customer retention and loyalty, both driven by customer interactions with insurers, specifically during the claims experience.

“Claims operations, which have been traditionally treated as outputs of a “reactive back office,” will have to become a powerful differentiator—innovative and uncompromising on customer service, with multifaceted talent and capable of driving strong results,” continues the Deloitte report. 

Digit, an India-based multi-line insurer, launched a new product that covers pre-and post-hospitalization expenses, road ambulance charges, and a second medical opinion regarding eight viral diseases, including COVID-19 and dengue. 

For Care Health Insurance, erstwhile Religare, Mantra Labs, the Bengaluru-based Insurtech firm deployed Hitee, a conversational chatbot to be the first-level customer support for existing and new customers. This led to higher New Business Conversions by a factor of 10X, and a significant drop in Customer Queries over Voice Support by 20%.     

Source: www.mindbowser.com 

The pandemic and its subsequent wave accelerated the shift towards going digital in the insurance industry. In 2021, there is an apparent inclination towards personalization, data mining, automation, and cloud computing in the Insurtech space.

Read the 7 key trends we’ve expected this year in Insurance here. 


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Enhancing digital patient experience with healthcare chatbots

5 minutes read

Chatbots are fast emerging at the forefront of user engagement across industries. In 2021, healthcare is undoubtedly being touted as one of the most important industries due to the noticeable surge in demand amid the pandemic and its subsequent waves. The Global Healthcare Chatbots Market is expected to exceed over US$ 314.63 Million by 2024 at a CAGR of 20.58%.

Chatbots are being seen as those with high potential to revolutionize healthcare. They act as the perfect support system to agents on the floor by providing the first-step resolution to the customer, in terms of understanding intent and need, boost efficiency, and also improve the accuracy of symptom detection and ailment identification, preventive care, feedback procedures, claim filing and processing and more.

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital tools in healthcare, most commonly chatbots, rose to the forefront of healthcare solutions. Providence St. Joseph Health, Mass General Brigham, Care Health Insurance (formerly Religare), and several other notable names built and rolled out artificial intelligence-based chatbots to help with diagnostics at the first stage before a human-human virtual contact, especially while differentiating between possible COVID-19 cases and other ailments. The CDC also hosts an AI-driven chatbot on its website to help screen for coronavirus infections. Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) partnered with a messaging app named Ratuken Viber, to develop an interactive chatbot for accurate information about COVID-19 in multiple languages. This allowed WHO to reach up to 1 billion people located anywhere in the world, at any time of the day, in their respective native languages.

For Care Health Insurance, Mantra Labs deployed their Conversational AI Chatbot with AR-based virtual support, called Hitee, trained to converse in multiple languages. This led to 10X interactions over the previous basic chatbot; 5X more conversions through Vanilla Web Experience; Drop-in Customer Queries over Voice Support by 20% among other benefits.

Artificial Intelligence’s role in the healthcare industry has been growing strength by strength over the years. According to the global tech market advisory firm ABI Research, AI spending in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries is expected to increase from $463 million in 2019 to more than $2 billion over the next 5 years, healthtechmagazine.net has reported. 

Speaking of key features available on a healthcare chatbot, Anonymity; Monitoring; Personalization; collecting Physical vitals (including oxygenation, heart rhythm, body temperature) via mobile sensors; monitoring patient behavior via facial recognition; Real-time interaction; and Scalability, feature top of the list. 

However, while covering the wide gamut of a healthcare bot’s capabilities, it is trained on the following factors to come in handy on a business or human-need basis. Read on: 

Remote, Virtual Consults 

Chatbots were seen surging exponentially in the year 2016, however, the year 2020 and onwards brought back the possibility of adding on to healthcare bot capabilities as people continued to stay home amid the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. Chatbots work as the frontline customer support for Quick Symptom Assessment where the intent is understood and a patient’s queries are answered, including connection with an agent for follow-up service, Booking an Appointment with doctors, and more. 

Mental Health Therapy

Even though anxiety, depression, and other mental health-related disorders and their subsequent awareness have been the talk around the world, even before the pandemic hit, the pandemic year, once again could be attributed to increased use of bots to seek support or a conversation to work through their anxiety and more amid trying times. The popular apps, Woebot and Wysa, both gained popularity and recognition during the previous months as a go-to Wellness Advisor. 

An AI Wellness Advisor can also take the form of a chatbot that sends regular reminders on meal and water consumption timings, nutrition charts including requisite consultation with nutritionists, lifestyle advice, and more. 

Patient Health Monitoring via wearables 

Wearable technologies like wearable heart monitors, Bluetooth-enabled scales, glucose monitors, skin patches, shoes, belts, or maternity care trackers promise to redefine assessment of health behaviors in a non-invasive manner and helps acquire, transmit, process, and store patient data, thereby making it a breeze for clinicians to retrieve it as and when they need it.

Remote patient monitoring devices also enable patients to share updates on their vitals and their environment from the convenience and comfort of home, a feature that’s gained higher popularity amid the pandemic.

A healthcare chatbot for healthcare has the capability to check existing insurance coverage, help file claims and track the status of claims. 

What’s in store for the future of chatbots in Healthcare? 

The three main areas where healthcare chatbots can be particularly useful include timely health diagnostics, patient engagement outside medical facilities, and mental health care. 

According to Gartner, conversational AI will supersede cloud and mobile as the most important imperative for the next ten years. 

“For AI to succeed in healthcare over the long-term, consumer comfort and confidence should be front and center. Leveraging AI behind the scenes or in supporting roles could collectively ease us into understanding its value without risking alienation,” reads a May 2021 Forbes article titled, The Doctor Is In: Three Predictions For The Future Of AI In Healthcare. 


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