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How Mobile Micro-Health Insurance can unlock ‘Digital for Bharat’?

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4 minutes, 8 seconds read

Mobile-enabled micro-health insurance is escalating at a good rate with advancement of digital healthcare technology. It has the potential to deliver quality healthcare services to people by improving accessibility and keeping people well-informed about health issues, thus reducing out-of-pocket expenses. Consumers are prioritizing health above other needs as the rise of digital services in India has enabled catering to the at-home population In India.

Keeping Customers Engaged using digital health tools

Practice of healthcare through mobile can be made interactive by integrating services that can cater to customer needs:

  1. Using chatbots to help customers settle health related queries and diagnosis through simple question-answer sessions. Health emergencies can be solved any time with chatbots due its 24/7 availability. Max Life insurance has made it easier for customers to avail customer service through max life assistant Mili that is integrated in Whatsapp.
  2. Use of mobile health apps helps customers to receive personalized service. Mobile health apps provide virtual care, health tips, and keep track of health status, and locate nearby hospitals. TATA AIA life insurance company partnered with Practo to gain access to a digital health platform through which customers can book appointments, order medicines and consult doctors online.
  3. Integration of mobile apps with fitness trackers, smart health watches helps customers to receive daily updates on their health & well-being. Max Bupa Health insurance partnered with GOQii to track customers’ health and offer discounts to those who achieved healthier goals and lifestyles. 
  4. Use of mobile payments such as mobile wallets, NFC can help customers pay premiums with just a few taps. Reliance general insurance partnered with Paytm and launched “COVID-19 benefit insurance policy” that covers quarantine and health treatment expenses for COVID-19 patients.

More than 2.4 billion people worldwide live on US$2 or less per day. Most low-income families will see their savings be completely wiped out owing to higher out-of pocket healthcare expenses and are likely to be pushed further into poverty. Below are a few mobile micro-health insurance products that are helping such low-income families cover health risks with minimal costs at difficult times.

Innovative New products in micro-health insurance:

  1. BIMA Health- following a mobile insurance model and having partnered with several mobile operators, BIMA covers short-term health events for low-income families by providing tele-doctor services, free health programs giving health tips through SMS, appointment booking services wherein the micro-payments are deducted from monthly phone bills.  
  2. Pona na Tigo Bima- MicroEnsure partnered with Tigo, Bima and Golden Crescent and developed a health insurance product “Get Well with Tigo Insurance” that provides life and hospitalization insurance covering 30 nights in a hospital and uses mobile money for claim settlements. 
  3. Y’ello Health- this micro-insurance service established by MTN Nigeria provides health insurance cover to Nigerians where they can pay and have access to medical treatments through mobile phones. People have access to around 6000 hospitals across the country that are registered in NHIS.
  4. Kilimo Salama: operated by safaricom, Syngenta foundation and UAP insurance, the insurance scheme allows Kenyan farmers to insure farm equipment and inputs against drought and heavy rain. It offers “pay as you plant” insurance by syncing mobile payments and solar powered weather stations. A farmer pays 5% extra for farm inputs for climate coverage. When a weather station reports extreme climate change, the farmer registered with that station automatically receives the amount in mobile. 

MNOs have been the major drivers to enhance the microinsurance industry. Mobile being the dominant in healthcare technology, can be used to structure niche insurance products and serve to educate people on various health issues. Mobile micro-health insurance can serve as a protective blanket against health emergencies as mobile can bridge the gap between the insurers and low-income families, be it mobile policy information, claims filing, renewals, query and claim payments. An adequate balance can be achieved between affordability and accessibility by partnerships with MNOs to deliver real value to the customers.

Untapped Opportunity & Drivers of Micro-health Insurance

In developing countries, the estimated volume for microinsurance is between 1.5 and 3 billion policies. These policies typically account for demand in health, agriculture, property, and disaster cover. At present, only 5% of this market is currently tapped and is being driven by large commercial insurers. To expand the market, commercial insurers should partner with innovative startups, NGOs and other facilitators. As mobile penetration deepens, it will also open more doors for low income groups to have access to better quality financial savings products. For instance, WhatsApp which has a total of 400M users in India, 15 million of which are small businesses, is targeting financial services such as insurance, micro-credit & pension for the rural/informal sector through ‘WhatsApp Pay’. The ‘Digital for Bharat’ challenge needs simplicity in the products & services being designed for the rural mass and finding innovative distribution channels to truly establish the roots of this market.

To know about how healthcare industry is bringing hospitals to a customer’s doorstep, watch our webinar on Digital Health Beyond COVID-19.

Further Readings:

  1. Reimagining Medical Diagnosis with Chatbots
  2. HealthTech 101: How are Healthcare Technologies Reinventing Patient Care
  3. What will be the state of the healthcare industry post pandemic?
  4. Healthcare Chatbots: Innovative, Efficient, and Low-cost Care
  5. Does Microinsurance work for India’s poor?

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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.

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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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