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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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Implementing a Clean Architecture with Nest.JS

4 minutes read

This article is for enthusiasts who strive to write clean, scalable, and more importantly refactorable code. It will give an idea about how Nest.JS can help us write clean code and what underlying architecture it uses.

Implementing a clean architecture with Nest.JS will require us to first comprehend what this framework is and how it works.

What is Nest.JS?

Nest or Nest.JS is a framework for building efficient, scalable Node.js applications (server-side) built with TypeScript. It uses Express or Fastify and allows a level of abstraction to enable developers to use an ample amount of modules (third-party) within their code.

Let’s dig deeper into what is this clean architecture all about. 

Well, you all might have used or at least heard of MVC architecture. MVC stands for Model, View, Controller. The idea behind this is to separate our project structure into 3 different sections.

1. Model: It will contain the Object file which maps with Relation/Documents in the DB.

2. Controller: It is the request handler and is responsible for the business logic implementation and all the data manipulation.

3. View: This part will contain files that are concerned with the displaying of the data, either HTML files or some templating engine files.

To create a model, we need some kind of ORM/ODM tool/module/library to build it with. For instance, if you directly use the module, let’s say ‘sequelize’, and then use the same to implement login in your controller and make your core business logic dependent upon the ‘sequelize’. Now, down the line, let’s say after 10 years, there is a better tool in the market that you want to use, but as soon as you replace sequelize with it, you will have to change lots of lines of code to prevent it from breaking. Also, you’ll have to test all the features once again to check if it’s deployed successfully or not which may waste valuable time and resource as well. To overcome this challenge, we can use the last principle of SOLID which is the Dependency Inversion Principle, and a technique called dependency injection to avoid such a mess.

Still confused? Let me explain in detail.

So, what Dependency Inversion Principle says in simple words is, you create your core business logic and then build dependency around it. In other words, free your core logic and business rules from any kind of dependency and modify the outer layers in such a way that they are dependent on your core logic instead of your logic dependent on this. That’s what clean architecture is. It takes out the dependency from your core business logic and builds the system around it in such a way that they seem to be dependent on it rather than it being dependent on them.

Let’s try to understand this with the below diagram.

Source: Clean Architecture Cone 

You can see that we have divided our architecture into 4 layers:

1. Entities: At its core, entities are the models(Enterprise rules) that define your enterprise rules and tell what the application is about. This layer will hardly change over time and is usually abstract and not accessible directly. For eg., every application has a ‘user’. What all fields the user should store, their types, and relations with other entities will comprise an Entity.

2. Use cases: It tells us how can we implement the enterprise rules. Let’s take the example of the user again. Now we know what data to be operated upon, the use case tells us how to operate upon this data, like the user will have a password that needs to be encrypted, the user needs to be created, and the password can be changed at any given point of time, etc.

3. Controllers/Gateways: These are channels that help us to implement the use cases using external tools and libraries using dependency injection.

4. External Tools: All the tools and libraries we use to build our logic will come under this layer eg. ORM, Emailer, Encryption, etc.

The tools we use will be depending upon how we channel them to use cases and in turn, use cases will depend upon the entities which is the core of our business. This way we have inverted the dependency from outwards to inwards. That’s what the Dependency Inversion Principal of SOLID implies.

Okay, by now, you got the gist of Nest.JS and understood how clean architecture works. Now the question arises, how these two are related?  

Let’s try to understand what are the 3 building blocks of Nest.JS and what each of them does.

  1. Modules: Nest.JS is structured in such a way that we can treat each feature as a module. For eg., anything which is linked with the User such as models, controllers, DTOs, interfaces, etc., can be separated as a module. A module has a controller and a bunch of providers which are injectible functionalities like services, orm, emailer, etc.
  1. Controllers: Controllers in Nest.JS are interfaces between the network and your logic. They are used to handle requests and return responses to the client side of the application (for example, call to the API).
  1. Providers (Services): Providers are injectable services/functionalities which we can inject into controllers and other providers to provide flexibility and extra functionality. They abstract any form of complexity and logic.

To summarize,

  • We have controllers that act as interfaces (3rd layer of clean architecture)
  • We have providers which can be injected to provide functionality (4th layer of clean architecture: DB, Devices, etc.)
  • We can also create services and repositories to define our use case (2nd Layer)
  • We can define our entities using DB providers (1st Layer)

Conclusion:

Nest.JS is a powerful Node.JS framework and the most well-known typescript available today. Now that you’ve got the lowdown on this framework, you must be wondering if we can use it to build a project structure with a clean architecture. Well, the answer is -Yes! Absolutely. How? I’ll explain in the next series of this article. 

Till then, Stay tuned!

About the Author:

Junaid Bhat is currently working as a Tech Lead in Mantra Labs. He is a tech enthusiast striving to become a better engineer every day by following industry standards and aligned towards a more structured approach to problem-solving. 


Read our latest blog: Golang-Beego Framework and its Applications

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