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Insurance Cos Are Adopting Various Technologies To Enhance Customer Experience: Yusuf Pachmariwala, Tata AIA Life

In an interview with BW Businessworld, Yusuf Pachmariwala, Executive Vice President & Head, Operations, Tata AIA Life, spoke about Indian Insurance Industry, its evolution with technology and more.

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Broadly speaking how has the role of technology in Life Insurance Operations evolved in India over the past 5 years or so? 

The Indian Insurance Industry has been using technology very effectively to enhance the consumer experience, manage efficiency and scale-up operations. Now, a consumer can avail life insurance solutions without going through the hassle of submitting physical documents, making cheque payment for premium and visiting a medical lab for a thorough health check-up. By integrating the systems with various partners within the ecosystem, like banks, information bureaus, Third Party Administrators (TPAs) etc. we have made the process almost paperless. The consumer profiling, financial and medical underwriting and, risk assessment are now done at the application stage with the help of various native apps.  

As far as customer service goes, more than two-thirds of our transactions now happen through self-service modes. This saves valuable time for our consumers for locating company touchpoints to get their service requests addressed. Now our claims intimation, tracking, settlement and notification processes are online. Also, we are one of the early adopters of live Net Promoter Score (NPS) that helps us manage consumer experience across various service touchpoints.

While technology has helped us immensely in driving operational efficiencies, we never undermine the role of human interface in the process of delivering our service promises. That inspired us to launch amazing Consumer Experience (ACE) program across the company to handhold our consumers in the process of buying, servicing and claims settlement. 

Tell us about some digital initiatives that have helped enhance levels of customer service in the Life Insurance Industry in recent years. 

Life insurance companies are adopting various digital technologies to enhance the overall customer experience. On the servicing side, most insurance companies have simplified the login process, enabled transactions like downloading statements (receipts/tax certificates) and made the premium payment process convenient. They have also made various key policy information available on the go. 

We have enabled several digital services for consumers through Website, Portal, SMS, Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS), WhatsApp, Social Media, Chatbot and Partner Apps. Our consumers have embraced these initiatives, which is visible from the large scale customer adoptions we have experienced in the recent past. 

The newest channel of servicing introduced is WhatsApp and we have witnessed a great response from our consumers. We are also continuously enhancing our digital penetration in the payment space by enabling newer premium payment avenues. 

Thanks to all these initiatives, our self-service ratio is now above 80 per cent, far higher than the industry average. 

How predictive analytics have helped Tata AIA improve its overall persistency? Tell us about how your persistency figures have evolved over the past five years. 

With the help of In-house predictive analytics tools, which have been introduced recently, we are now carrying out analysis of those cases which have high propensity to lapse. Basis of the score derived from this analysis, engagement efforts have been channelized to have more customized engagements with the consumers. 

The efficient use of analytics has helped us make a significant improvement in our persistency across all the cohorts in the last five years. Our 13thMonth Persistency, basis Annualized Net Premium (ANP), has grown from 75 per cent in FY 2016 to 84 per cent as on July 2019. 

Has data analytics helped your business, both in terms of claim settlement ratio and experience? If yes, do share some of your experiences in this regard. 

We are using technology and data extensively to make the onboarding process easy for our consumers. The integration of our systems and processes with various risk mitigation tools within our ecosystem or outside has helped us exercise control over the riskier lives or fraud cases.

We are using predictive models and analytical tools at the time of onboarding to identify the high-risk policies. In addition, we are verifying with the industry consortium database and credit risk scores. Additional due diligence is done on the high-risk cases, including cancellation of policies in case we detect fraud. 

Beyond claim settlement ratio, as a Life Insurance company we have pledged to plant a sapling in the name of the policy-holder for every Term policy that is bought. These saplings will be planted in designated regions across India to enhance the much-required green cover in country.

Lastly, do tell us about some of your tech initiatives that are in the pipeline as of now. 

The technology initiatives in the pipeline can be classified as external and internal. While the external initiatives are meant for the consumers and distributors, the internal initiatives are for the internal operations team.

Some of the key external initiatives include Aadhaar based KYC through offline mode, electronic standing instruction set-up by way of direct integration with banks and finetuning of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) capabilities. 

While some of the priorities in the area of internal initiatives are enhancing data management platforms and streamlining business process automation through Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools.

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