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Impact of COVID-19 on Motor Insurance & Practical Challenges for Insurers

5 minutes, 36 seconds read

The outbreak of COVID-19 shook the very foundation of many industries. It is probably the first time that a pandemic created a dent in the world economy. Statista estimates that COVID-19 will bring down the global real GDP growth by 0.5 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year.

Consumers have become conscious of their expenditure. Due to disruptions in supply chains, many small and medium businesses have suffered huge losses. A dip in international trade has created a ripple effect across all industries including travel, hospitality, insurance, and manufacturing. 

The pandemic has different effects on the life and non-life segments of Insurance. While the rising concern for health has led to a spike in life and health insurance demands, the general insurance sector is suffering a setback due to restrained expenditure. 

Motor insurance is no different from being severely hit by the pandemic. Amidst this crisis, people are not keen on purchasing cars, bikes, which is directly affecting the insurance sector as well. Re-negotiation on premiums is another big challenge for Insurers. Let’s delve deeper into the impact of Covid-19 on motor insurance and practical challenges for Insurers.

The Real Picture

Till a cure is available in the market, there will be travel restrictions to a certain extent. People will hesitate to commute daily and avoid long-distance travel. The significant drop in the usage of motor vehicles is impacting claims and sales differently.

Claims and Premium 

In the initial lockdown period, many people were not able to drive their vehicles. The domino effect of this was a reduced number of motor insurance claims. 

At first, it sounds profitable for Insurers. But, for policyholders, continued premiums on policies they can’t use seems an additional burden. So most customers are either asking for bailouts or reduced premiums or refunds on premiums. 

Some major Motor insurance companies in the US and UK have already refunded 10-15% of annual premiums back to customers. In India, the finance ministry has extended the validity of the third-party insurance policies which were up for renewal during the lockdown.


Moody’s Investors Service, expects a 20% drop in global auto unit sales as compared to its earlier projection of 14%. In many countries, Motor Insurance is compulsory. However, if people won’t use vehicles, there’ll be a significant dip in the requirement for Motor Insurance policies. 

In the wake of the current situation, IRDAI decided to withdraw its earlier policy of long-term third party vehicle insurance coverage from August 1, 2020. Earlier, the third party insurance was mandatory (three years for new cars and five-year policies for two-wheelers). 

The IRDAI’s decision is a result of concerns over the implementation of a long-term insurance cover package which made buying new vehicles an expensive affair. This will reduce the price of vehicles, which, in turn, will boost the automobile and motor insurance sectors.

Prevailing Challenges for Motor Insurance Companies

Motor Claims Process

Vehicles can still suffer damage due to theft, natural calamities, non-usage, etc. Moreover, once people start traveling, accidents are prone to occur. It will be difficult for claims investigators to assess the damage through an in-person visit.

Some insurance companies are accepting claims and renewing premiums through online inspection and vehicle photograph assessment. This procedure, however, is still in a nascent stage. Despite high-resolution cameras, it is possible to overlook a dent due to deflection caused by sunlight. 

[Related: How Machine Vision can Revolutionize Motor Insurance]

Sales and Marketing

Even though automobile sales dropped in the short-term, it is expected to pick-up in the early quarter of 2021. 

On one hand, marketing & selling policies at the original price will be difficult for motor insurers, and on the other hand, people will avoid public transport and prefer personal vehicles for commuting. 

Insurers, thus, have a challenge for positioning their product that suits both — customer requirements and their profit margins amidst fierce competition with InsurTechs.

Policy Changes due to Volatile Consumer Behaviour 

Since there were no clauses or policies for the pandemic in place earlier, some immediate mitigation measures had to be taken such as refunds on premiums to safeguard customers’ interests. 

Going forward, till there is a conclusive solution to this crisis it will be difficult for Insurers to formulate policies that preserve both – their and customers’ interests.

Business Continuity

With lockdowns, major workforce resorted to working-from-home. In the beginning, some companies faced issues in making sure whether their employees had the means to work remotely. 

Even though the lockdowns have been eased a bit and the workforce is getting used to collaborating online, the situation is here to stay. Smooth operations with a major part of the workforce working remotely is still a challenge, especially for call-centers, surveyors, and field investigators. 

[Related: Business Continuity for Call-Center Operations: Case Study]

Lack of Historical Data

During the SARS and Ebola outbreaks, only some countries like Singapore, Thailand, China, the African continent were affected. To a certain extent, businesses were cognizant of the effects which COVID-19 would have on their businesses. 

Therefore, insurers had come out with new policies and clauses on pandemics. However, the outbreak of a pandemic of this scale where the entire world felt the effects had not happened earlier. Lack of historical data for motor insurance is making it difficult to come up with mitigation strategies and business models for a sustainable and profitable business. 

Mitigation Measures and The Way Forward

“Claims” is one of the most important aspects of motor insurance and will now witness automation more than ever. Coupling Machine Vision technology with panoramic/360° pictures can give insurers a holistic view of the extent of the damage.

Car rental services have an extensive guide to click pictures of the car rented before driving which makes the process very tedious. This can be simplified through apps having pre-shot pictures of the car before renting it out. AI can also help assess the accuracy of the images. 

[Related: How can Artificial Intelligence settle Insurance Claims in five minutes?]

In the short run, finance ministries in many countries have taken steps to lessen the burden of the insurance premiums. But in the long run, insurers will have to come up with policies that are more viable for the insurance buyers. ‘Pay-as-you-use’ policies will see more demand because of their small ticket size. 

Technologies such as IoT can help gather data through sensors that could help underwrite insurance premiums for vehicles. The data gathered can help understand consumer behavior and profile them for creating future strategies. 

We’re an InsurTech100 firm, building AI-First Solutions for the new age Digital Insurer across the entire Insurance Lifecycle. For your specific requirements and Machine Vision for motor claims, please feel free to write to us at hello@mantralabsglobal.com.


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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.

Chart, sunburst 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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