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'Supercharge' insurance distribution with technology

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The pandemic and climate change are making the world more insurance conscious, and insurers should seize the moment by enhancing their distribution channels with virtual reality and Artificial Intelligence, Capgemini and Efma’s new World Insurance Report 2021 says.

Brokers want to ramp up their digital engagement capabilities and need support from their insurers, the research found.

More than half of brokers surveyed for the report sought screen-sharing platforms and digital document-signing tools, and said customer convenience improves when digital illustrations and single-screen product comparison tools are offered.

However, less than two-thirds of insurers said they provide brokers with these sought-after digital tools.

Anirban Bose, CEO of Capgemini’s Financial Services, says by investing in the right technologies, insurers can win and retain customers and empower brokers to deepen relationships.

“Providers need to ensure their channels enable a convenient and seamless customer experience,” Mr Bose said. “Insurers have an opportunity to convert digital traffic to sales by focusing on a hyper-personalised virtual experience.”

The report says the future lies in ‘digi-intermediation’ – in which brokers are digitally empowered and virtual channels are humanised – and this will eliminate distribution gaps and improve the customer experience.

Distribution models need to offer uninterrupted service, superior customer experience and maximum value as the industry’s dynamics evolve, the report says.

Digital channels earned high marks for 24/7 availability, ease of updating information for insurers, and search capabilities.

“Yet, their inability to provide in-depth, personalised advice to customers seeking complex products such as retirement plans and annuities made it clear that agents and brokers are still essential for purchasing these types of insurance,” the report said.

Brokers say they need to know more about policyholders and potential customers in order to more effectively convert leads into sales, and the report says APIs and AI-based analytics can help brokers understand customer preferences, answer questions, and offer appropriate products around policyholders’ special life events.

“The most successful insurers will win and retain customers by reinventing their operating ecosystem to support a ‘phygital’ model based on a mix of physical presence and digital engagement,” the report said.