As it appeared in the Daily Nation on November 10th 2020
Dr Lucy Kiruthu
In the last two decade, the insurance sector has been playing catch up with others in financial services. For example, when banks were shifting to 24-hours customer contact centers, insurance companies held on tight to their switchboards. Besides, banks quickly embraced innovations in financial technology transforming how banking happens. Unfortunately, players in the insurance sector remained cautious even as InsurTech made headway in some parts of the world. In Kenya, they often passed blame to regulatory requirements. However, I believe that the COVID-19 pandemic has fast-tracked the focus on new trends and digital transformation in the insurance sector is happening.
The insurance customer is quickly embracing new trends in the sector. This customer requires a different approach. While speaking at the 35th annual Insurance Institute of Kenya conference last week, I described today’s insurance customer. The insurance customer has high expectations. This customer is not only well informed and more demanding but is also less loyal than ever before. Today’s customer has access to lots of information. At the click of the mouse, they can find information about different insurance services on offer globally. Further, many customers today do not mind managing their risks under different insurance providers. These customers are not too quick to sign on the dotted line as their parents did, they seek full disclosure on what is covered and not covered. Additionally, these customers do not mind experimenting to figure out what works and what does not. Some are especially keen on services custom-made to meet their unique needs. For example, products targeting women seem to be making inroads in the insurance sector.
Today’s customer is also keen on self-service; they do not mind valuing their car through an easy-to-use valuation tool provided online by their insurance company. These customers want the distribution, underwriting, onboarding, administration and the claims processes reinvented. They are happy with simple policy documents that clearly show what is and is not covered and that allow for electronic signatures. They do not mind online onboarding. They are content with receiving insurance stickers via email and printing them. Many hope for provision of mobile-friendly claim forms enabling customers to submit claims on the spot. They do not mind filling their claims online by themselves. Most of these customers whether individuals or corporations are well connected. They have access to different channels via multiple devices. Their mobile phones, tablets, computers and their television sets are some of the devices they are using to engage digitally. These customers are also sharing their experiences online; they are different from the customers of yesteryears. Technological advancements are making these new trends a possibility.
Today’s insurance customer will be happier if the insurance sector moves a little faster. Every player in the sector hoping to survive in the future must therefore take note of the new trends and take action. It is not enough to wait to send a renewal notice or a customer service week message. Customers want more value-adding interactions and especially in co-creating products and services. These customers are keen on innovations that the insurance sector is considering. The insurance sector must simplify their customer interaction processes to make them faster, easier, and painless.
Dr Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer. Connect via Twitter @KiruthuLucy