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Does Microinsurance work for India’s poor?

Microinsurance schemes target the betterment of the low-income segment whose daily income is less than ₹250 per person. The term “micro” refers to the small financial transactions generated by insurance policies. Since the introduction of the Microinsurance Regulation of 2005, 15 companies have registered more than 23 products with IRDA (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India). But sadly, the Indian insurance sector has achieved a penetration rate of only 3.49% and the majority of it comes from the urban population.

Microinsurance can be delivered through a variety of channels like licensed insurers, health care providers, microfinance institutions, community-based and non-governmental organizations. Despite so many open channels and nearly 15 years of operation, microinsurance products are not easily accessible to the rural populace. 

In this article, we will discuss why private insurers are unable to reach rural India and the ways to effectively distribute these schemes to the rural mass.

Why Insurance Companies are Unable to Reach Rural India for Microinsurance Policies?

The low penetration levels and the large protection gap is a major challenge for the Indian insurance industry.

Casparus Kromhout, MD & CEO, Shriram Life Insurance
Gaps in microinsurance policies reaching rural areas

Flaws in Traditional Insurance Methods

Typically, insurance companies recruit agents who can charge their clients up to 20% of the premium as fees. Insurance companies appoint agents under the ‘Deed of Agreement’ or ‘Memorandum of Understanding’. The point is, the insurance companies and agents (or community workers) lack tight coupling. And most of the time, insurance agents don’t prefer sharing their client data with the insurer. Therefore, the insurance companies have data about the policies sold but are missing complete customer details.

Insurance companies are also the late adopters of technology. For some, budget is the constraint while for many it is the perception about technology that is creating a roadblock. There is a cost associated with building technology according to the organization’s needs, implementing it, and also training the stakeholders to use it. Although, it is a one-time investment, still, many insurance companies are hesitant to spend in technology.

Overcoming Operational Challenges in the Rural Microinsurance Space through Technology

Automating manual processes can reduce operational cost and improve efficiency. 

webinar: AI for data-driven Insurers

Join our Webinar — AI for Data-driven Insurers: Challenges, Opportunities & the Way Forward hosted by our CEO, Parag Sharma as he addresses Insurance business leaders and decision-makers on April 14, 2020.

For example, Gramcover, an Indian startup in the microinsurance sector uses direct document uploading and processing for faster insurance distribution in the rural sector.

Similarly, MaxBupa, a leading health insurance venture uses
FlowMagic automated solutions for processing inbound documents. It has simplified the operations by lowering manual dependencies and by being adaptable to the existing organizational processes.

The Scope of Consumer Technology and Insurance Companies in Microinsurance Space

Consumers value convenience. Insurance companies that can provide 24/7 services are at a bigger competitive advantage. 

However, technology alone cannot reform the microinsurance sector. There still needs to be human ‘touchpoints’ to educate rural customers. Insurance companies can deploy technology for improving operational efficiency. 
India accounts for nearly 65% of Asia’s microinsurance market, and with the right strategies that meet these challenges, insurance companies can reach out to actual Bharat — who are otherwise deprived of microinsurance benefits.


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Retention playbook for Insurance firms in the backdrop of financial crises

4 minutes read

Belonging to one of the oldest industries in the world, Insurance companies have weathered multiple calamities over the years and have proven themselves to be resilient entities that can truly stand the test of time. Today, however, the industry faces some of its toughest trials yet. Technology has fundamentally changed what it means to be an insurer and the cumulative effects of the pandemic coupled with a weak global economic output have impacted the industry in ways both good and bad.

Chart, line chart

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Source: Deloitte Services LP Economic Analysis

For instance, the U.S market recorded a sharp dip in GDP in the wake of the pandemic and it was expected that the economy would bounce back bringing with it a resurgent demand for all products (including insurance) across the board. It must be noted that the outlook toward insurance products changed as a result of the pandemic. Life insurance products were no longer an afterthought, although profitability in this segment declined over the years. Property-and-Casualty (P&C) insurance, especially motor insurance, continued to be a strong driver, while health insurance proved to be the fastest-growing segment with robust demand from different geographies

Simultaneously, the insurance industry finds itself on the cusp of an industry-wide shift as technology is starting to play a greater role in core operations. In particular, technologies such as AI, AR, and VR are being deployed extensively to retain customers amidst this technological and economic upheaval.

Double down on digital

For insurance firms, IT budgets were almost exclusively dedicated to maintaining legacy systems, but with the rise of InsurTech, it is imperative that firms start dedicating more of their budgets towards developing advanced capabilities such as predictive analytics, AI-driven offerings, etc. Insurance has long been an industry that makes extensive use of complex statistical and mathematical models to guide pricing and product development strategies. By incorporating the latest technological advances with the rich data they have accumulated over the years, insurance firms are poised to emerge stronger and more competitive than ever.

Using AI to curate a bespoke customer experience

Insurance has always been a low-margin affair and success in the business is primarily a function of selling the right products to the right people and reducing churn as much as possible. This is particularly important as customer retention is normally conceived as an afterthought in most industries, as evidenced in the following chart.

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        Source: econconusltancy.com

AI-powered tools (even with narrow capabilities) can do wonders for the insurance industry at large. When architected in the right manner, they can be used to automate a bulk of the standardized and automated processes that insurance companies have. AI can be used to automate and accelerate claims, assess homeowner policies via drones, and facilitate richer customer experiences through sophisticated chatbots. Such advances have a domino effect of increasing CSAT scores, boosting retention rates, reducing CACs, and ultimately improving profitability by as much as 95%.

Crafting immersive products through AR/VR

Customer retention is largely a function of how good a product is, and how effective it is in solving the customers’ pain points. In the face of increasing commodification, insurance companies that go the extra mile to make the buying process more immersive and engaging can gain a definite edge over competitors.

Globally, companies are flocking to implement AR/VR into their customer engagement strategies as it allows them to better several aspects of the customer journey in one fell swoop. Relationship building, product visualization, and highly personalized products are some of the benefits that AR/VR confers to its wielders.  

By honoring the customer sentiments of today and applying a slick AR/VR-powered veneer over its existing product layer, insurance companies can cater to a younger audience (Gen Z) by educating them about insurance products and tailoring digital delivery experiences. This could pay off in the long run by building a large customer base that could be retained and served for a much longer period.

The way forward

The Insurance industry is undergoing a shift of tectonic proportions as an older generation makes way for a new and younger one that has little to no perceptions about the industry. By investing in next-generation technologies such as AR/VR, firms can build new products to capture this new market and catapult themselves to leadership positions simply by way of keeping up with the times.

We have already seen how AR is a potential game-changer for the insurance industry. It is only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace.


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