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A Sandbox Approach in Insurance

The insurance industry has reached an evolutionary crossroad. The fast-evolving world of InsurTech mandates that insurers become digitally agile. With Fintech solutions becoming more common, a responsive approach would enhance the ability of promising insurance innovations to develop and flourish.

There are various technologies stepping into the value chain to enhance and disrupt the way insurance businesses used to function earlier. The industry should consider testing their products in a controlled environment or a ‘Sandbox’. This approach can provide certain advantages such as allowing insurers to launch unconventional products on a pilot-basis before seeking necessary approval.

A sandbox approach in insurance can be used to carve out a safe and conducive space to experiment with innovative Insurtech solutions. It is a process of experimenting on a limited scale initially, where the consequences of failure can be contained before finally being adopted; consequently not allowing regulation in being a constricting force in their innovation journey.

Sandbox approach, a global affair:

Implementation of the sandbox to test customer’s interest is now a global call. It is being implemented in most region’s financial hubs including UAE, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, Switzerland, and the UK.

The FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) the UK, the British financial regulator was the first to launch the Fintech sandbox, back in 2016. The FCA reported 90% of firms that completed testing in the sandbox are continuing towards wider market launch.

Under the FCA Cohort System used in their Sandboxes, the focus of current testing includes; Blockchain-based payment services, Reg tech propositions, general insurance, AML controls, Biometric Digital ID and know your customer (KYC) verification.

One of the most surprising aspects is the growing number of countries that have proposed the sandbox approach to remain competitive with those already on board. These include countries such as Indonesia, Israel, Russia, Taiwan and the USA.

First launch in India:

“In the recent past, new Insurance companies and Insurance intermediaries have carried out technological innovations in their products and services,”

“The authority encourages companies to develop such new technologies to add value for customers, increase efficiency, and better manage risks.”

 S C Khunita, IRDAI chairperson, was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

NITI Aayog had organised a day-long Fintech Conclave on 25th March 2019, with the objective to shape India’s continued ascendancy in Fintech. It featured representatives from across the financial ecosystem. Mr Shaktikanta Das, RBI Governor; confirmed that the RBI will come out with the necessary regulations for the sandbox in the Fintech sector within two months to ensure regulatory compliance.

IndiaFirst Life insurance company was the first to launch an insurance plan under the sandbox approach; on 12th April 2017 and got approval for the launch on 27th November 2017. The plan was called “Insurance Khata”. It was directed towards those with seasonal incomes, mostly belonging to the underserved sections of Indian society. It lets buyers pool multiple single insurance plans into an account and allow payment of premiums as per the user’s convenience.

” Use a Sandbox approach to test customer’s interest ” was one of the key takeaways of The Indian Insurance Summit & Awards 2019.

sandbox approach in insurance infographic

Eligibility Criteria for Insurers or Insurance intermediaries to apply for Sandbox in India:

A 10-member committee comprising IRDAI officials and representatives of Insurance companies and the World Bank has been set up to regulate the sandbox process. The panel has been asked to dwell on the key regulatory issues Fintech poses across the insurance value chain.

Despite recent advances, insurance remains a tough industry for innovation. However, the fast-growing interest in “Insurtech” is reflected in its popularity as a google search term since 2016.

Insurance penetration in India is only 3.69% of GDP against a global average of 6.2%; the Sandbox Approach for testing the new products can help improve these numbers. The “Sandbox Approach” offers a plethora of opportunities for the Insurance Industry to set out on a journey and expand their reach into more ecosystems than ever before.

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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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