The insurance industry has been amongst the laggards when it comes to technology adoption. However, over the past few years, most enterprises operating in this segment have embraced technology which has resulted in a tectonic shift from product-focussed programs to that of enhancing customer experience. This is where Edelweiss Insurance hopes to cash in on their agility with technology, given that the company was born in the digital era, says Shanai Ghosh, CEO of Edelweiss General Insurance. In a chat with CXOToday, she shares her thoughts on some aspects related to tech-led disruptions, changing trends in the boardroom and customer acquisition and service.
CXOToday: How is technology shaping the insurance sector today?
Shanai Ghosh: We believe that technology today is all pervasive. It has evolved from being a simple enabler, into a key catalyst that drives business. While the Insurance industry is nascent in the adoption of technology, the pace of experimentation and adoption of emerging technologies among most players in the industry has accelerated. The environment today also makes it possible for new entrants such as us, who have a completely digital operating model.
Technology not only enables new product structures such as pay-as-you-go, pay-per-use etc., it also has the ability to complete alter customer experience in claims. We see these positive trends continuing and are actively investing in technologies that can drive this transformation.
CXOToday: What are the key changes or trends that could be highlighted with the inception of technology?
Shanai Ghosh: There has been a significant shift from product-focused models to a customer experience–driven business model, which has resulted in several digital firsts for the industry. We are also witnessing changes around new products, innovation in service and use of new distribution channels. Three areas where I believe technology will have the maximum impact, are:
- Customer experience – Customers largely consider insurance and particularly, claims management, a cumbersome process. Instant claim settlement is a reality today and such transformations, will soon become all pervasive. Enabling hassle-free experiences for customers, is therefore at the forefront of the change technology will drive.
- Product and Pricing Innovation – Enabling new ways to evaluate price risk is of paramount importance. Usage-based insurance is one such trend which has been made possible, primarily through technology. We also see a huge opportunity in personalization and in the efficient use of analytics in customized pricing.
- Expansion and Deeper connect with the service ecosystem – Services can help to differentiate commoditized products and technology is helping Insurers connect with adjacent ecosystems to offer more holistic solutions through a platform-based approach.
CXOToday: Today, if a business wants to stay ahead of the race, it cannot afford to say no to the adoption of technology. What has been your technological adoption like to stay ahead of the others in the insurance industry?
Shanai Ghosh: We are fortunate to have been born in a digital era. It has, therefore, organically led us to be the first cloud native insurer in the country, with a digital operating platform. Over the last two years, we have built a robust and scalable platform that is state-of-the-art and allows us to be at the forefront when it comes to the adoption of emerging technologies.
We are the first insurer to implement the SAP insurance suite in India for the entire process value chain, and that forms the foundation of our General Insurance technology platform. It gives us an integrated, robust and scalable core and micro-services-based API architecture, allowing for easy and micro level integration with external partners.
CXOToday: What are the top discussion pointers in the boardroom of a general insurance company today? How are the C-suite conversations changing over a period of time?
Shanai Ghosh: One major change in board-room business discussions has been the elevation of technology as a core driver for business and strategy. Technology is occupying a significant portion of the boardroom mindshare. Board meetings today, especially in our context, revolve around creating long-term value for customers through the effective use of emerging technology, which ensures a robust, scalable and secure foundation. We are focussing on frictionless customer journeys, active risk selection and claims efficiency through our technology driven platform.
CXOToday: BFSI sector is known to be at the highest risk of cyber-attacks. Being one of the crucial limbs of the BFSI sector, how are you protecting your business and customers against the data breach?
Shanai Ghosh: The volume and criticality of data in the BFSI ecosystem is very high. We are aware that the threat landscape is expanding at a fast pace. Operating in a highly regulated environment, we are conscious of the risks which a potential data leakage poses in current times. We are strategically deploying advanced data storage and management facilities to manage the entire data lifecycle. We have invested in secure systems and networks, to manage the entire data lifecycle. We always aim to comply with the gold-standards of information security policies.
CXOToday: How is the economic slowdown impacting you? With the news that the conditions are going to worsen, how are you planning to fare through it?
Shanai Ghosh: Insurance is a highly under-penetrated market and we do not see any major indicators of slowdown for us, as of now. We are constantly tracking economic developments and building sufficient cushions for all possible scenarios. We have installed robust risk-sensing mechanisms to track any event that could affect business. In a heterogeneous market with myriad opportunities, we have chosen select segments to play in and are constantly sharpening our go-to-market strategies to grow in them. We believe our customer-insight driven strategy, will surely help us achieve the golden mean between growth, profitability and customer-centricity, in any state of the economy.
CXOToday: Talking of customer base, millennials are considered to be marching away from the concept of savings and insurance. How are you incorporating them in your business, since their numbers are huge if seen from a customer perspective?
Shanai Ghosh: I don’t concur that millennials are shying away from insurance. In fact, we believe that while the consumption patterns or engagement models for this group may have changed, the underlying need for protection remains. We are basing our strategy on this theme for this very important target segment and are ensuring that we tailor our products, services and communication to be hyper-relevant to the needs of this group. Our strategy is aimed at offering compelling value to customers through meaningful and relevant products and services.
Our health 241 product stands testimony to this approach –This had its genesis in research which showed that younger and healthier people, including millennials, were reluctant to buy health insurance since they thought the chances of them claiming were remote and therefore the premium paid did not offer value. So, with Health 241, we offered the 2nd year free if they didn’t claim in the 1st year of the policy with us. In the same manner we are developing products and experiences along with ‘pay-as-you-go’ structures that would appeal to this segment.