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How Technology is Transforming Insurance Distribution Channels

4 minutes, 31 seconds read

‘Insuring’ has always been a mundane and complicated subject for businesses. Distribution channels allow customers to access and purchase products efficiently. According to JM Financial, online insurance sales for new business are fast catching up and are likely to grow at a CAGR of 13 percent to become a $37 billion break by 2025.

Each distribution channel requires different resources to be effective and impact the pricing structure. The type of insurance business model determines its structure, strategy and placement in the market.

Take, for instance, India. The market size of the online insurance business in India is currently $15 billion, but the overall insurance penetration rate is just 3.7% (Statista, 2018). 

The regions where insurance penetration is low poses an immense potential for the digital premium market. Insurers can leverage the following distribution channels to undermine the profound potential.

1. Self-directed or Direct Distribution Channel

Through Self-directed or direct distribution channels, insurers can reach out to the customers without shelling out commission for any middle man. With an increase in the population of tech-savvy customers, the ready availability or online channel of advice or transaction capabilities is the need of the hour. 

Online channels, websites, social media platforms, e-commerce and kiosks are some examples of the direct distribution channels in insurance. The 2017 Global Distribution and Marketing Consumer Study reveals that nearly 51% of digitally active groups of consumers (39% of all Insurance consumers) have purchased insurance through an online channel. The direct insurance distribution channel encourages self-service and independent decision making.

NLP-powered chatbots are a great way to provide a self-service portal for buying/renewing insurance policies. Leading Insurers like Religare are leveraging the direct distribution channel by integrating chatbots in different platforms like their website, mobile app, and even on third-party apps like WhatsApp.

2. Assisted Distribution

Agents and brokers are typically the key players in the insurance distribution channel, with market shares of 42% and 25% respectively. The old school face-to-face distribution channel is very much alive and is integrated with tech assisted models to ensure more leads and conversions. They mainly play a part in advising and managing complex insurance products.

agent's share in assisted insurance distribution channel

Agents, insurance brokers and reinsurance brokers remain the most recognized insurance purchase channel. The Gartner Group reports that 60% of the US GDP is sold through assisted or indirect channels. Cognitive technology is becoming a key enabler to strengthen the assisted distribution channel. PwC suggests leveraging analytics solutions (mainly predictive analytics and behavioral analytics) to increase sellers’ knowledge as well as skills.

[Related: How behavioral psychology is fixing modern insurance claims]

The technologies that are empowering learning for Insurers include augmented reality, machine learning, data analysis and NLP.

upcoming technologies in assisted distribution channel

For example, Zelros, a European AI startup, is augmenting the knowledge of sales and customer representatives through best product recommendations, advisory, and pricing based on the customer profile in real-time.

3. Affinity-based Insurance Distribution Channels

The affinity channel focuses on distributing products to a tightly-connected group of consumers with similar interests. Traditionally, the affinity-based distribution channel involved peer-to-peer networks, brokers and aggregators. While the network model remains the same, the model has become digital and tech-driven for affinity channels. And technology is playing a vital role in expanding the consumer base. The key benefits of the affinity distribution channel are-

  • Common platform for all stakeholders.
  • One-stop access to policies and claims.
  • Centralized database for insightful analysis.
API-based Insurance Model Affinity Distribution Channel

This distribution channel is also a part of B2B2C or API-based insurance business models. Here, Insurers can leverage 3rd party apps to distribute their policies. APIs or Application Programming Interfaces are lightweight programs to extend the functionality of existing apps. Travel, airbus, hotel, bank and retail are some examples of affinity-based distribution channels.

Finaccord estimates that airline companies hold a distribution share of up to 10% of the travel insurance market. The annual revenue from airline and travel insurance providers partnership may range from $1.2 billion to 1.5 billion in premiums.

[Related: 4 New Consumer-centric Business Models in Insurance, How InsurTech-Insurance Partnership Delivers New Product Innovations]

The majority of travel insurance policy sales across the globe are done through some kind of affinity partner instead of via a direct sales channel.

Jeff Rutledge, President & CEO, AIG Travel
Source: Insurance Business UK

The Bottom Line

In the countries where buying an Insurance is not mandatory, market penetration is extremely low for Insurers. Being meticulous in sales and marketing efforts and educating customers about the benefits of insurance is just not sufficient. Convenience is the key to new generation consumers. Therefore, insurers need to invest in technology and make insurance policies accessible to the new-age digital consumers through the channel of their choice. 

Michael D. Hutt and Thomas W. Speh, in their book – Business Marketing Management: B2B, suggest a six-step process to select among the most efficient insurance distribution channels-

  1. Determine the target customers.
  2. Identify and prioritize customer channel requirements by segment.
  3. Access the business’s capabilities to meet those customer requirements.
  4. Use the channel offering as a yardstick against those offered by competitors.
  5. Create a channel solution for customers’ needs.
  6. Evaluate and select the most effective among the distribution channels.

We’ve developed insurance chatbots for organizations like Religare to automate policy distribution and renewal. For your business-specific requirement, please feel free to reach us at hello@mantralabsglobal.com.

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How to increase patient engagement on a healthcare app?

By :
4 minutes, 9 seconds read

Patient facing mobile apps have emerged as a viable alternative to interact with patients and help them execute several tasks related to healthcare without reaching the hospital. Patients are now increasingly glued to these healthcare apps and their time spent on mobile devices has increased significantly. From communication and information to executing business through mobile apps have become a common thing.

Still, there is a lot of gap in the healthcare market. Marketers are struggling to gauge the true value of mobile apps for the bottom line of healthcare organizations. Especially in terms of the value of the app viz-viz the efforts, cost, and time it would take to become a useful and engaging healthcare app for the patient.

To help you increase the patient engagement on a healthcare app, here are a few crucial ways that you need to know. It will not only increase the engagement but will also help you meet your organizational goals at a faster pace.

1. Reduce Readmissions

Healthcare provider’s biggest pain point these days is to avoid readmission of preventable cases. It is crucial for healthcare organizations to reduce this number to enhance patient outcome and improve their revenue growth. Customized healthcare applications can assist hospitals in reducing the number of readmissions.

Here is how:

  • Offer personalized post-release information and instructions
  • Reminder for regular follow-up visits
  • Enforce stricter adherence to post-release prescription and regiment
  • Easier access to healthcare resources and information
  • Lesser cost and time of reaching out
  • Greater engagement to reduce readmission rates

2. Encourage Patients to Proactively Manage Their Health

Encouraging the patient to become proactive in managing their own health can help in improving the outcome and also enhance the reputation of your hospital. With easier access to the required resources and tools, patients are more likely to stay in touch with healthcare professionals and practice the wellness regimen. A properly optimized mobile app can deliver a better wellness experience to the patient and a greater sense of satisfaction.

Here is how an app can help the patient in managing their health proactively:

  • Keeps the patient informed and connected with relevant services
  • Encourages regular health tracking
  • Helps in developing healthy habits and exercises
  • Promotion of health education by streaming informations

3. Improve Trust and Build Relationships


Establishing trust between the patient and doctor is one of the difficult things that hospitals face. Due to long wait times, complex processes, or lack of communication between healthcare team; patients are not willing to attend healthcare appointments.

However, when you give all the relevant tools and information in the smartphone of the patient and empower them, the trust develops between the two parties and the patient proactively takes charge of their treatment. Hospitals can also gain competitive advantage by streamlining patient referrals and building stronger relationships with physicians.

Here is how apps can help:

  • You can provide access to a larger pool of specialists 
  • Help in easily accessing credentials, studies, and information from the mobile app
  • Recommend, network, and connect
  • Improve efficiency and workflow

4. Boost Brand Image and Reputation

Today patients can not be treated less than consumers. Hospitals are competing with each other to provide better care facilities and infrastructure at affordable prices. Hence, it has become crucial to achieve patient satisfaction and engagement. Through mobile apps, hospitals can make the existing information easily accessible along with brand awareness features including social media, photo galleries, virtual tours, and more.

Here is how mobile app can help:

  • Easier access to communication and information
  • Intuitive presentation of the hospital through immersive galleries
  • Stream ER wait time and other relevant information
  • Greater social media engagement

What more factors can increase engagement?

Several patients come to healthcare app once and then dump them after a few logins. One of the major reasons for such low engagement rates is that either the app is difficult to navigate or it is not immersive for the patient.

Consider these few points to make your app more engaging:

  • Customize the app as per the patient group. An app can appear differently to a child and an old age person. Develop an app that is easy to use for all users. Sit with your QA engineers to validate the functionality of your application thoroughly.
  • Build an app that is scalable and can be evolved over a period of time. Leave the possibility of enhancements and customizations that you would need in the future to keep the application viable.
  • It is a no brainer to give multiple options to your patients. Develop a cross-platform application that is compatible with both iOS and Android platforms and offers a rich user experience.

Wrapping Up

With the COVID-19 pandemic, people are more worried about visiting hospitals. Social distancing has become the norm and patients are more inclined towards telemedicine for their treatment. In such a tricky situation, it has become more crucial for hospitals to provide a robust, secure, and engaging mobile app to patients to interact with doctors, access information, and stay connected with the healthcare system.

About the Author

Erna Clayton is a techie with over 12 years of experience in several technological domains including quality assurance and software testing. In her free time, she loves travelling and writing on technology.

Further Readings:

  1. Building Consumer Trust in the Digital Healthcare Era
  2. HealthTech 101: How are Healthcare Technologies Reinventing Patient Care
  3. Virtual health: Delivering care through technology
  4. How Mobile Micro-Health Insurance can unlock ‘Digital for Bharat’?
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