Digital is the way forward. It is critical for organisations to adopt digital to grow in the post Covid world. At Edelweiss General Insurance our digital operating model and choice of product segments (Retail Health and Motor) have ensured smooth functioning and positive business outcomes for us and in 2021, we will develop ML driven personalization model to support these new products says Shanai Ghosh, Executive Director & Chief Executive Officer, Edelweiss General Insurance in conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).
- How has Covid transformed the insurance sector? What changes are you witnessing in terms of product delivery and sales?
The pandemic has heightened the importance of Insurance. It has led to increased awareness and understanding of insurance, especially in areas such as health, income replacement due to medical exigencies or job loss, business continuity. As people realise the unpredictability of situations and its impact on well laid plans, financial and otherwise, we believe that more and not less people, will buy insurance.
The Indian customer has always been value conscious, Covid has made them even more so. They are looking to save all they can and pay only for what they are really consuming. Realising that in the current situation, people might not be using their vehicles every day, we introduced SWITCH, to provide a solution to this changing consumer need. It is India’s first on-demand Motor Insurance product, where if you don’t use you don’t have to pay.
Product delivery and sales has seen a digital shift; where the platform was earlier available, adoption has increased and where not, digital enablement has happened. The entire ecosystem around Insurance has seen significant progress in digital enablement, from the regulatory environment to the technology stack.
Edelweiss General Insurance was set up as a cloud native company with a digital operating model. It is the only insurer that has the entire stack including the core system on cloud.This allowed a smooth transition to work from home post Covid and operate in a BAU all through the current financial year. This is reflected in our performance, where we have demonstrated robust growth every month, especially in our focus lines of business namely private car insurance and health insurance.
- Pace of digitization across the sector has multiplied by several folds. What are the key changes and trends that you see?
Covid has accelerated digital transformation across the industry. There has been heightened adoption and deployment of technology by both insurers and customers. The base of digitally connected customers is growing rapidly and that provides companies like us, the opportunity to redefine and transform experiences.
Digital buy journeys existed even earlier but now there is greater acceptance and adoption by customers, intermediaries and the servicing network partners. There is also higher adoption of digital channels for servicing.
This transformation will help us segue into new models like on demand insurance, usage-based insurance, subscription based etc. We will see de-jargonising and simplification of processes using automation.AI/ML, Big data will be used extensively to build relevant products and offer convenience to customers.
Digital adoption will change channel and product economics in India going forward. Growth fundamentals remain solid for insurance. For players to stay relevant or win in the game, they will have to embrace the power of digital, leverage data to build customer behaviour led models and speak the language the customer understands. We have just scratched the surface of digital transformation. It is up to us to harness the power of change and define the future of insurance in India.
- Talk us through the technology implementation in your organization. What are the key tech adoptions you have done in Covid and how has it helped?
EGI is India’s first cloud native insurer with a fully digital operating model. We are among the few insurance companies in South-east Asia to have hosted our entire application portfolio including security console on cloud. Our digital first approach will help us deliver superlative tech driven experience to customers through paperless and AI& ML driven processes. We are creating an ‘Insurance as a service’ platform with a plug and play API gateway that enables easy integration with thirties parties.
For us, technology has always been core to our business model and strategy and is not a post pandemic realization or shift.
While the imposition of lockdown may have interrupted business for several players, our digital model has enabled us to transition smoothly to operate as a BAU during this Covid-19 outbreak. We launched SWITCH, India’s first on-demand, app-based motor product that offers savings and convenience together to consumers. We offer the customer the unique value of paying for Car Insurance only when they use it.
During Covid-19, we have ensured quick health insurance claim settlements for our customers, through our process of accepting digital documents. For motor insurance claims, we have a remote survey app, BOLT, that can be conveniently used by consumers, partners and garages to ensure to ensure fast settlement. This tool allows us to settle claims even when widespread travel was not possible.
- What initiatives are you taking to keep your employees updated in sync with technology?
Firstly, in these unprecedented times, our foremost priority has been to ensure the mental and physical wellbeing of our employees. We have initiated virtual engagement activities to stay connected with our employees and keep them motivated and fit.
Being a digital native organization, our focus is to create and sustain a culture of innovation and agility among our employees. In collaboration with AWS (Amazon Web Services), we have initiated a series of knowledge sharing sessions across topics like Big Data Architecture, Artificial Intelligence/ Machine Learning and Culture of Incremental and Disruptive Innovation. A deep dive into Amazon’s Sagemaker technology helped employees understand the nuances of AI and how one can build, train and deploy machine learning models.
For our leadership team across functions, we have a program designed to fuel innovative thinking and also help them get insights on Big Data Architectures and AI/ML, benefits of cloud-based data lakes, purpose-based data stores, reporting services, and AI/ML use cases, etc.
Continued Learning interventions like these will help us drive a culture of incremental innovations – how to nourish, fortify and improvise on existing processes and practices.
- What learnings and practices from these uncertain times would you like to continue in the future as well?
Clearly, digital is the way forward. It is critical for organisations to adopt digital to grow in the post Covid world. Insurers will need to harness technology to enhance their product offerings to create behaviour and need based personalised offerings.
Edelweiss General Insurance has been doing well in these tough times. Our digital operating model and choice of product segments (Retail Health and Motor) have ensured smooth functioning and positive business outcomes for us.
Our aim is to transform customer experience through insight and tech driven product and service solutions.Consistently improving customer experiences forms the core of our business strategy. We have consciously invested in building a robust digital operating model. Our endeavours in implementing SAP suite, cloud adoption, microservices-enabled API architecture etc., reflect our emphasis on ensuring delivery of superlative customer experiences.
- How significant, in your view, is the role of Data Centre and Cloud in employee management when the majority workforce is working remotely?
Our cloud-native architecture has served us extremely well during Covid times when our entire workforce is working remotely. Cloud-based communication technologies that can be accessed from anywhere, anytime becomes essential at such times. Having all our applications on cloud, ensured that we did not have to put our IT infrastructure teams at risk for managing a physical and in-house data centre. There has been no downtime or outages of our IT systems and it hasn’t created any challenges for the employees to access those.
- What innovations are you planning for 2021?
Our vision is to become a partner to help people to lead happier, safer and healthier lives. This is the true north star that guides our brand, product and customer strategy. We aim to deliver innovative solutions to customers through a digital operating model leveraging data and analytics.
Consumer insight driven strategy coupled with technology-powered execution engine allows us to differentiate our products and services. We believe customers will demand more flexibility and greater personalization while wanting the same to be delivered through extremely simple and convenient interfaces.
Globally, there is a growing interest in on-demand insurance, subscription-based models and wellness integrated health insurance. We aim to invest in developing these categories by introducing digital first products. We will also develop ML driven personalization model to support these new products. The other big area of investment will be to use ML and AI to simplify the claims experience for customers.