There has been a significant shift in the operations across industries in India and insurance is no different. Several digital initiatives such as Telemedicine, which was earlier an optional product has now become an important part of the health sector as well as health insurance sector. The industry is coming up with new digital health products that the customers are wanting to test. At Max Bupa, we have a heavy focus on digital health products for customers. Our chatbot is now handling 60 percent of our customer queries. We all see a fundamental shift in the industry due to Covid and it is expected to stay, says Anika Agarwal, Chief Marketing Officer, Max Bupa Health Insurance.
The outbreak of deadly coronavirus is challenging for all sectors but the healthcare sector and health insurance industry, in particular, facing a tough time on various fronts but along with the challenges, there are several opportunities waiting for the sector and its digital growth.
According to a PWC report titled COVID-19: Impact on the Indian insurance industry, “Health insurance is expected to cushion the blow that this pandemic will deal. While being extremely relevant to society, using appropriate mitigation strategies, insurance companies may be able to support it further through product development activities and ensuring their reach is extensive.”
Underlining the need for innovation across the health insurance sector and to understand the course of action for the industry, Elets Technomedia organised a virtual panel discussion and during that interaction, we spoke to Anika Agarwal, Chief Marketing Officer, Max Bupa Health Insurance, who revealed several important aspects of the health insurance industry.
Excerpts of the address:
There has been a significant shift in how we operate as a country. This has come across categories and insurance is no different. If we look at themes for the customers, they are basically health and protection. Health insurance stands at the cusp of both. In the last few months, being a part of the health industry, we have also evolved in a bid to run our work. It is significant to understand that more than the customer adapting to the changes posed by covid, it is also the customer adapting to it. In my view, the entire insurance industry has done a phenomenal job in this regard. Distributors have evolved into the concept of digital identity very strongly.
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Further, we see a change in consumer behaviour because there is a genuine need for the product. We also see the distributors adapting to the new normal and serving the demands of our customers. When we look at health insurance, we see three key assets. Firstly, how the consumer and distributor changed, Secondly, what is the relation of the category to the adjacent categories and thirdly, a quick adaption of technology on the distribution network for servicing the customers remotely.
There are a lot of challenges and learning at the hospital where the frontline warriors are working. Life insurance companies are accumulating the learnings to upgrade the services and products accordingly. We are trying to bring the segment which was not able to afford health insurance earlier, within the ambit by offering standard covid insurance and Arogya Sanjeevni, a standard health insurance product.
Starting in March, the sector is growing step-by-step in alignment with the crisis situation. Around June, the industry did a phenomenal job in terms of leveling-up their distribution network, so that the customers can be served by allowing distributors to work remotely.
Telemedicine, which was earlier an optional product, has now become a significant part of the sector. The industry is coming up with new digital health products that the customers are wanting to test. At Max Bupa, we have a heavy focus on digital health products for customers and a lot of these products are availed free by some of our existing customers. We are doing this to promote our digital products so that they start using these products. Our chatbot is now handling 60 percent of our customer queries. The customer is comfortable and finds it easy to speak with the chatbot and the distributor is aligned.
All the initiatives taken by industry towards digital adoption are registering a lot of acceptance from the customers and a greater push from our distributor network as well. You see a fundamental shift in the industry due to Covid and it is expected to stay. And you see a sea change next year as well and as the normal will shift.