The pandemic has profoundly affected the way insurance companies operate. Previously, insurance agents were accustomed to interacting with prospects in person, but now, with social distancing a norm, all customer communication must be done over audio or video calls.

To address these challenges, insurers need to streamline their communication processes, build customer relationships remotely, and adapt to the situation in order to maintain a competitive edge.

According to McKinsey’s January 2020 US Agent survey, about 90 percent of life insurance agents’ sales conversations and nearly 70 percent of their ongoing client conversations were conducted in person.

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Acing the subtle art of communication

Hurdles in effective customer communication

Insurance agents handle multiple processes, including administering existing policies, sharing instant quotes, selling and renewing policies, and addressing customer enquiries.

Recently, the mass shift to remote working has completely changed the way agents interact with customers, especially since they have historically relied on face-to-face sales and servicing. Additionally, obsolete legacy systems are unable to support modern communications.

Siloed processes and disjointed communication across departments is affecting agents’ abilities to access contextual information, collaborate smoothly, and as a result, provide speedy customer service.

Four tips to improve communication and collaboration

Insurance agents now have an opportunity to transform their digital services in response to changing customer and business needs. Insurers must collaborate remotely and deliver relevant communications through their customers’ preferred channels to improve customer retention. This can be done by:

1. Leveraging tools for remote working

In order to provide uninterrupted services to customers, insurance agents must leverage video conferencing and web meeting tools to effectively communicate with customers. They can also use alternative means, such as e-signature solutions and online, user-friendly forms, to service policies and process claims

2. Digitising customer interactions

Customers expect a streamlined experience at every touchpoint. Insurance agents can use a wide range of technologies, such as chatbots and self-service portals, to help customers access their policy details, pay premiums, and apply for claims from any electronic device

3. Automating critical processes

Automating key insurance processes, such as customer onboarding, underwriting, policy servicing, claims processing, and customer communication, enables insurance agents to collaborate remotely, reduce process turnaround times, establish a seamless information flow, and improve customer experience

4. Establishing virtual offices with mobility

Mobile applications must be used to establish virtual offices for sales agents and allow access to information, such as new policy features, policy quotes, customer details, etc. Agents can collaborate with the central processing office to transfer information and process applications instantly

As customer expectations heighten and the insurance landscape continues to evolve, insurance agents must invest in digital tools and new-age technologies to provide uninterrupted services across all channels and devices.

Digitisation is the key to facilitating communication and collaboration between insurers, agents, brokers, stakeholders, and customers.

Right now, “going digital” is a necessity for insurers to stay relevant; in the long term, they will continue to reap the benefits of modernised processes. As organisations look to the future, streamlined communication and collaboration will be the differentiating factor to keep insurance companies on the cutting edge. And in order to stay ahead of the competition tomorrow, insurers must digitise today.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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trumpREUTERS/Joshua Roberts

President Donald Trump said that in the next two weeks he’d be working on an executive order to require health insurance companies to cover those with preexisting conditions.
This requirement — that insurers cover those with pre-existing conditions — is already law, and it has been since the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Trump, since taking office in 2017, has sought to repeal or undermine President Barack Obama’s signature law.
In June of this year, the Justice Department asked the US Supreme Court to try to overturn the law.
Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

At a last-minute press conference held in the ballroom of his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on Friday night, President Donald Trump said that in the next two weeks he’d be working on an executive order to require health insurance companies to cover those with preexisting conditions.

This requirement — that insurers cover those with pre-existing conditions — is already law, and it has been since the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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This is a preview of The Chatbots in Insurance Playbook from Business Insider Intelligence.
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Business Insider Intelligence offers even more fintech coverage with Fintech Pro. Subscribe today to receive industry-changing finance news and analysis to your inbox.

How_AI_Based_Chatbots_Learn_To_Execute_Human_Like_Interactions_February_2020Incumbent insurers are using chatbots to transform from passively engaging customers to putting customer engagement at the forefront of their business models.

The insurance sector has been far behind other sectors of financial services when it comes to delivering on customer engagement — but today, insurers are tapping advances in chatbot technology to deliver frequent and individualized customer interactions. Advancements in automation, machine learning (ML), and natural language processing (NLP) have enabled conversational assistants to deliver customer engagement that’s so on par with live agents that the bots can supplant staff entirely.

And within the insurance realm, chatbot tech has the potential to reshape everything from product recommendation to admin to claims processing.See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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PayPal rolled out QR code payments as contactless options become more popular amid the pandemicEurozone citizens deposited $47 billion into savings accounts in MarchCitigroup, HSBC, and other Asian banks accelerate digital upgrades amid the pandemic

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To account for disruptions in their usual functioning, businesses safeguard themselves by purchasing insurances that mitigate such risks. These are usually covered through an ‘all risk policy’, a ‘business package policy’, or a ‘standard fire and special perils policy’, which generally cover loss of profit due to a business interruption.

In India, business interruption insurance is not sold on a standalone basis and is covered as a part of the aforementioned policies. COVID-19 and the resultant national lockdown which has been in effect since March 25, 2020 has brought regular functioning of businesses throughout the country to a standstill.

Business Interruption Insurance

In these times, it is important for companies to understand the coverage provided under such insurance policies and if there is a ground to make a claim.

What is covered and what is not?

Generally, the wording of these polices limit the coverage only to loss of profit for a period during which business is interrupted or otherwise disrupted due to material damage to the property/asset. In other words, no claim can be made for a loss of profits due to business interruption, without there first being material damage to assets/property insured under such policies. As such, physical loss or damage is a precursor for a claim of business interruption.

Lockdown as a cause for business interruption

Even if one were to look past the requirement of physical damage, policies generally have a specific exclusion for any loss or damage caused as a result of an order of a government authority which results in the policyholder being prevented from accessing the property. This would further vitiate the chances of making a claim given that the business interruption has been due to the lockdown imposed by a government order.

Few policyholders opt for optional add-on features that cover loss incurred due to hindrance or prevention of use of premises as a result of a government or police action. Policyholders with such add-on features should be able to make a viable claim under their insurance policy.

However, it is to be seen how the insurers handle such claims. Also, the exact language in the policy would play a key role in determining the viability of the claim.It would be prudent for businesses who have taken such business interruption policies to look into the fine print to see if they are covered for disruptions on account of COVID-19.Regulatory assistance

The insurance regulator, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) has emphasised the need for insurers to be sensitive to the needs of the policyholders in light of COVID-19.

Most insurers have taken a position that any business interruption due to COVID-19 is excluded from the policy as the coverage is only for material damage (and, also that the premium charged didn’t factor a disruption on account of a pandemic/lockdown). This view has also been backed by the General Insurance Council (self-regulatory body for all general insurers) (GI Council). This has led to some backlash from businesses that were hoping for insurers to take a more lenient and case by case approach. The Insurance Brokers Association of India has even written to the IRDAI to intervene in this unilateral decision taken by insurers.

What must be noted here is that the government has a monopoly in the re-insurance market and controls three large general insurers. It needs to be seen how it balances these interests while providing any relief to businesses.

A common condition in these policies is the requirement to take approval from insurers in case of non-occupation of the premises for over 30 days. In a relief to businesses, the GI Council has decided to give a one-time relaxation to policyholders from this condition for the period from March 25 till May 3, 2020. The IRDAI has also endorsed this move.

In other economies, such as the USA, several business owners have filed claims under business interruption policies and have seen these being rejected by insurers. These business owners are now coming together to file class action claims against insurers, with one of the grounds being that viral infections are not specified as exclusions under the policies.

There is speculation that the government might intervene and provide some relief. While the insurance policies in USA are surely different from that in India, what happens there, could very well have a ripple effect here.

Road ahead

Historically, businesses in India have been reactionary rather than precautionary when it comes to procuring insurance. For example, estimates of the insurance coverage to total losses suffered in the 2018 floods of Kerala ranges between three percent and five percent. In comparison, in USA the insurance coverage was about 64 percent for natural catastrophe losses in 2018.

COVID-19 and the nationwide lockdown are unprecedented situations for both insurers and businesses. However, these unprecedented situations have also further highlighted the virtue of being adequately insured.

From the perspective of insurers, it is an opportunity to roll out a new array of products and add-on features that protect businesses from such risks, albeit with high premiums and exclusions.

Also ReadCoronavirus: How workplaces will reboot in the post-COVID-19 era

For businesses, we will see a tectonic shift in approach towards insurance and seeing it as valuable investment for mitigation of risk. In the short to mid-term, a number of litigations around interpretation of business interruption provisions in policies seems inevitable.

(Edited by Javed Gaihlot)

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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Original Source: yourstory.com

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