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BW Businessworld

Health Insurance Goes Digital

The sector will see an upsurge in e-proposals as more people will purchase policies through mobile apps and software

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Today we are at the cusp of a technological revolution. With more than 300 million Internet users, India has the second largest Internet user base in the world. As per IAMAI-KPMG report, India is expected to have over 500 million Internet users by 2017. Realising this rapid growth of Internet usage in India,every sector, including insurance, has shifted its focus towards building non-traditional platforms. The availability of insurance products online, different apps or software developed by the companies to serve their customers, introduction of e-insurance accounts and announcement of e-commerce exposure draft are some of the major moves in the direction of the digitalisation of health insurance.

The Internet is a key enabler of the health insurance industry. A recent survey conducted by FICCI-Quintiles IMS reports online sales of health insurance will grow 15-20 times by 2020. Insurance companies, today, have made policies available on their own websites, apps and other online platforms making it convenient for customers to buy the policies instantly. Also, technology has played a key role in smoothing the processing of claims. Insurance companies have introduced various systems to ease the time gap for cashless claims. One such system is the pre-authorisation module, an online system through which cashless health insurance claims can be processed on cloud-based platforms; data is exchanged and processed with the hospital. This makes the whole process more transparent, as policy holders and hospitals can see the data on the platform with time stamps and history.

To further improve the sector, in June 2016, the ins-urance regulatory body IRDAI introduced the e-commerce exposure draft that allows buying and selling of insurance policies through online portals. This move will benefit customers, since they will now be able to compare prices of health insurance policies offered by different companies on e-commerce platforms.

Also, the IRDAI announced that an e-insurance account will be mandatory for every new insurance policy that a buyer opts for. With this, customers can streamline all their health policies in one account, which will provide them with a single window view of all their insurance policies.

The e-insurance account is a new paradigm that will come with a lot of attendant benefits to both insurers and the customers. Policies will be issued instantly and directly to the customer in the digital form and hence, the question of delay in issuance or non-receipt of policy will not arise.

The easy accessibility of policies online will make the customers’ lives simpler, as they can get all the information with one click. Also, they can issue standing instructions to banks to pay their insurance premium. Furthermore, claims can be requested and processed without any paper work. In case of any natural calamity, strikes or theft, there are chances of losing hard copies of policies; the availability of policies online will provide solace under such circumstances. Increased data confidentiality will be another value-add to the customer.

In the future, we expect to see an upsurge in e-proposals as more people will purchase policies through mobile apps and software. We also anticipate an increase in claim intimation on digital platforms. Additionally, the electronic transfer of data between hospitals, TPAs and insurance companies will become more convenient across stakeholders, thereby reducing claim approval as well as settlement time lags. This would also help in terms of uniformity of documentation, reduction in fraud cases as well as product innovation in the long run.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.

K.G. Krishnamoorthy Rao

The author is MD & CEO, Future Generali India Insurance Company

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