E-insurance is facing challenges with its format: Tarun Chugh, PNB MetLife

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What is the status of e-insurance? Is it picking up and are there any challenges?

E-insurance is a step in the right direction by the regulator (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India or IRDAI).

The recently issued guidelines are also helping to build traction towards the same. At this stage, the key challenge is with the format.

The current format needs to enable customers to make policy-level changes like nominee addition or change, request options such as fund switch, etc.

Currently, the customers can only view policy details and update contact details. As an industry, we all need to come together and build awareness among the masses about e-insurance.

The insurers are still focused on the savings part of insurance. This has led to low protection levels. What needs to be done?

There has been a lot of work and effort by the regulator and the industry to sensitise customers about the protection aspect of insurance.

The regulations also ensure that for customers to avail tax benefits, the sum assured or life cover has to be at least 10 times the annual premium.

We promote need-based selling and encourage our sales force to ensure that the customer has at least one pure term plan in his financial portfolio.

In addition, we have been conducting insurance awareness workshops in rural India to educate people about the importance of financial protection through insurance.

The industry, it seems, is willing for an open bancassurance architecture. Many banks are now willing to sell policies of multiple insurers. How do you view it?

Each bank has a different level of maturity on cross-selling third-party solutions to its customers.

Therefore, this regulation to allow the banks to choose their ‘open architecture’ model is a step in the right direction.

We would also be exploring tie-ups to increase our distribution footprint.

From a customer’s point of view, how is the role of information technology in the insurance industry evolving? Are companies doing enough on the technology front other than basic hygiene services?

A product becomes relevant to a customer in three circumstances:

a. There is a need for it.

b. It is accessible to the consumers where he wants it and when he wants it.

c. He is serviced where he wants and when he wants. The solution for this is going digital. Technology is bridging the gap between the consumers and the insurance companies.

Digital platform can address several pain points experienced by the distributors and customers alike:

*The sellers’ inability to provide simple products or a platform for comparisons.

*Need-analysis and instant objection handling.

*Cumbersome on-boarding process and TATs (turn-around-time) for policy issuance.

*Issues linked to servicing – online feedback platform, 360-degree CRM experience, inability of distribution partners to service customers, etc.

The insurance companies have traversed a long distance towards digital transformation.

Are there any radical changes that the life insurance industry needs in its 16th year of opening up to private players?

The industry has changed significantly over the years. Now every aspect of the business is being viewed from the customer’s lens.

Whether its products, distribution channels, or servicing, all have aligned to the customer’s requirement.

As I said earlier, we need to be where the customer is and in his comfort zone.

The digital economy is here to stay. This is what is going to drive radical changes in the insurance industry.

Innovation in the product space has a limited shelf life and almost all insurance companies have a similar portfolio with some variations.

From messenger bots, artificial intelligence, big data analytics to understanding the customers better, we will see a lot of innovation here.

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