Life Insurance Industry Prepares for Next-Gen Innovations

Pankaj Gupta

The life insurance industry is poised for significant technological advancements over the next 5 to 10 years, driven by the rapid evolution of digital technologies and shifting consumer preferences, shared Pankaj Gupta, Chief Technology Officer, Bharti AXA Life Insurance, in an exclusive interaction with Srajan Agarwal of Elets News Network (ENN).

In the rapidly evolving landscape of fintech and insurtech, we at Bharti AXA Life Insurance have encountered several challenges, but our proactive approach and strategic adoption of emerging technologies have allowed us to stay ahead of the curve.

One significant challenge has been the rising customer expectations for seamless digital experiences. To address this, we have undertaken a comprehensive digitisation of customer journeys, enabling 100 per cent digital onboarding and over 80 per cent digital customer servicing. This has been achieved through the development of a comprehensive suite of web and mobile digital tools for customers, employees, and distributors, spanning pre-sales, onboarding, servicing, and distribution management. Additionally, we have leveraged WhatsApp for servicing and pre-issuance verification, further enhancing convenience.

Another challenge has been the need for efficient data management and analytics capabilities. We have addressed this by implementing a data lake solution, enabling the creation of a single view of the customer (Customer 360) and intelligent deduplication. This has led to a 25 per cent reduction in average handling time for service, directly enhancing customer experience.

Furthermore, we have embraced new-age technology platforms such as Vymo for sales and funnel management, Talisma for omni- channel service CRM, Herald Logic for channel management (enabling commission TATs of less than 2 days), and Mo-Engage for real-time, DIY marketing campaign rollouts. These solutions have significantly enhanced our operational efficiency and agility.

Data privacy and security are of utmost importance at Bharti AXA Life Insurance. We have implemented robust measures to ensure the protection of sensitive customer information while harnessing the power of data analytics and artificial intelligence for business insights and personalised offerings.

Our comprehensive cybersecurity initiatives include implementing cutting-edge security solutions, conducting regular security assessments, and providing ongoing security awareness training to our employees. We leverage industry-leading tools like ASPIA for application security and maintain stringent compliance with regulatory requirements, including IRDAI cyber security guidelines, IRDAI ISNP (e-commerce) guidelines, and UIDAI audit standards.

Additionally, we have established robust governance and monitoring frameworks to ensure strict adherence to data privacy and security protocols. This includes maintaining high levels of infrastructure compliance (currently at 94 per cent) and ensuring near-perfect uptime for critical applications (currently at 99.9 per cent).

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While leveraging advanced analytics and AI capabilities, we ensure that all data processing and analysis are conducted within our secure data lake environment, minimising the risk of data breaches or unauthorised access. Furthermore, we employ techniques like anonymisation and pseudonymisation to protect sensitive customer information during the data processing and modelling stages.

As the CTO spearheading digital transformation initiatives at Bharti AXA Life Insurance, how do you prioritise agility and scalability in your technological roadmap to accommodate evolving market trends, regulatory requirements, and shifting customer preferences while maintaining operational efficiency and regulatory compliance?

One of our key focus areas is the continuous modernisation of our technology stack. We have already achieved significant milestones in this regard, with 70 per cent of our applications now hosted on the AWS cloud and the implementation of a state-of-the-art SD-WAN network spanning 200+ locations, ensuring an uptime of 99.8 per cent.

Furthermore, we have adopted an API-first approach, developing an exhaustive suite of APIs that leverage the India Stack and enable seamless integration with partners, allowing for rapid onboarding within 2 to 4 weeks. This modular, API-driven architecture enhances our agility and positions us to tap into the broader ecosystem and forge strategic partnerships.

To ensure regulatory compliance, we have implemented industry-grade rule engines for product configuration and servicing, enabling us to adapt to evolving regulatory requirements efficiently. Additionally, our continuous investment in robust cybersecurity measures and adherence to regulatory audits (IRDAI, UIDAI) safeguard our operations from potential risks.

In your vision for Bharti AXA’s future endeavours, what are the next big projects or innovations you are excited about? How do these initiatives align with the broader trends in the BFSI sector and what impacts do you anticipate they will have on the company’s growth and customer engagement?

In our vision for Bharti AXA Life Insurance’s future endeavours, we are excited about several transformative projects and innovations that align with broader trends in the BFSI sector and are poised to drive significant growth and enhanced customer engagement.

One of our key focus areas is the exploration and implementation of generative AI use cases. We are actively evaluating the potential of generative AI for content writing, summarisation, customer service, and sales enablement. By harnessing the power of this cutting-edge technology, we aim to revolutionise our customer interactions, providing personalised and intelligent assistance while driving operational efficiency.

Additionally, we are exploring the integration of emerging technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) to create immersive digital experiences for our customers and distributors. These initiatives will enhance engagement and facilitate more effective education and training, ultimately leading to improved customer satisfaction and retention.

Aligning with the industry-wide trend towards hyper-personalisation, we are investing in advanced AI and machine learning capabilities to analyse customer behaviour and preferences, enabling us to deliver highly targeted and relevant offerings. This personalised approach will strengthen our customer relationships and drive increased customer lifetime value.

Furthermore, we are actively evaluating intelligent automation implementation through Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and smart underwriting algorithms. These initiatives will streamline our back-office operations, accelerate policy issuance, and enhance risk assessment accuracy, contributing to improved operational efficiency and customer experience.

Looking ahead, how do you foresee the future of the life insurance industry in the next 5 to 10 years, particularly with respect to technological advancements?

The life insurance industry is poised for significant technological advancements over the next 5 to 10 years, driven by the rapid evolution of digital technologies and shifting consumer preferences.

One of the most significant trends will be the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning across various aspects of the industry. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants will revolutionise customer service, providing 24/7 personalised support and seamless experiences. Additionally, AI and ML will play a crucial role in underwriting, enabling more accurate risk assessment and pricing models and leading to more efficient and personalised offerings.

Another major trend will be the integration of emerging technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT), wearables, and telematics in insurance products and services. These technologies will enable insurers to collect real-time data on customers’ health, lifestyle, and behaviour, paving the way for personalised risk assessment, dynamic pricing, and proactive health management solutions.

Also Read | Revolutionising Insurance How customer-centricity is driving exceptional experiences

The rise of digital ecosystems and open banking will also shape the future of the life insurance industry. Insurers will increasingly collaborate with fintech start-ups, healthcare providers, and other ecosystem partners to offer integrated and innovative solutions, enhancing customer convenience and experience.

Furthermore, the adoption of blockchain technology is expected to gain traction, streamlining processes such as underwriting, claims management, and fraud detection while enhancing transparency and trust between insurers, customers, and partners.

Lastly, the growing emphasis on data privacy and security will drive the development and adoption of robust cybersecurity measures and adherence to evolving data protection regulations, ensuring the protection of sensitive customer information while enabling data- driven innovation.

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