Bots to resolve queries and AI solutions to help customers renew their policies automatically and even measure calorie intake… Giving a glimpse into insurance in the tech age, Girish Nayak of ICICI Lombard General Insurance Co Ltd says companies are tailoring their offerings for efficiency and personalised experiences.
An app developed by the company is helping retail and corporate customers use features such as tele-consultation and homecare. And newly launched AI-based features are helping them understand their health vitals and calorie intake, Nayak, the company’s chief, Customer Service, Operations and Technology, told PTI in an interview. He said ICICI Lombard is one of the first among the large insurance companies to move its core applications to the cloud and is looking at cloud for its transformative possibilities.
Excerpts from an exclusive interview:
Q: How is ICICI Lombard leveraging digital technology to push insurance policy sales, and drive growth?
A: Big data and analytics are helping organisations like ours in understanding customer needs better. New-age technologies such as AI and ML are helping in creating customer-centric solutions, especially from a customer engagement and service perspective. Technology has made it easy for consumers to access information as well as help in sharing knowledge. Since insurance continues to be bought across agents, dealers, brokers, fintech organisations and digital channels, we continue to focus our energy on making the customer purchase and renewal journey seamless across the distribution channel of their choice.
On the digital distribution side, we continue to offer newer products and services in tune with the emerging requirements of customers. We have started offering cyber insurance solutions with our preferred partners to provide protection against potential financial fraud relating to banking, credit or debit card; identity theft; phishing or email spoofing. Similarly, we have launched a unique solution BeFit on our ILTakeCare app that provides customers with out-patient department (OPD) services in the form of doctor consultation, pharmacy and diagnostic services, and physiotherapy sessions.
Q: What are the trends ICICI Lombard has observed in the insurance market? How has it influenced your digital strategy?
A: For an industry like insurance which happened to be physical intensive, tech has brought about increased adoption of digital methods of fulfilment in the insurance life cycle. During the pandemic, the usage of fintech platforms grew multi-fold. Similarly, it was important to start offering new generation products like cyber insurance, telehealth and cashless homecare. Our digital distribution strategy continued to evolve around new-age fintech partnerships.
Q: How are you leveraging AI, ML, IoT etc. to provide your customers with a seamless user experience?
A: We continue to build technological solutions that not only make it easier for insurance customers to purchase or renew their insurance but also simplify their servicing needs. AI and ML are playing a significant role in achieving this. Our break-in AI solution helps customers renew their policy automatically by clicking and uploading pictures of their vehicles; our health cashless AI solution helps in adjudication and authorisation of health cashless claims for our group health customers; cognitive service and natural language processing driven bot resolves customer queries through chat or voice.
Similarly, with availability of data and new-age technology, we have built AI and ML based fraud detection models that help in predicting and highlighting probable fraudulent claims in real-time as compared to rule based triggers that were flagged off for investigation. At the same time, virtual inspections using drones and IoT-driven monitoring of cargo are helping our commercial lines customers in risk understanding as well as risk mitigation.
Our ILTakeCare app is helping our retail and corporate customers use features such as tele-consultation and homecare. Similarly, our newly launched AI-based features on the app such as FaceScan and CalScan are helping customers in understanding their vitals and calorie intake to take better care of their health.
Q. What were the most persuasive reasons in favour of migration to cloud?
A: Most businesses look for a cloud strategy that optimises for business outcomes, including speed, resilience, and agility.
As a part of the cloud migration that we completed in March 2022, we have been able to migrate over 600 servers, 100 applications, and 1,000 terabytes of data to become more cloud native over the past one year. That said, our journey has just begun.
We are now in the process of rebuilding our tech stack to create a more modern one that can leverage a lot of the cloud-native services which will, in turn, help in building solutions that are more cloud native and help improve customer experience eventually. We started seeing immediate benefits in terms of reliability and scalability. The cloud is helping easily accommodate the seasonal peaks in our business (our corporate health and commercial lines business peaks in April while our motor business peaks in October – November). At the same time, we are seeing significant improvement in our uptimes which has helped regain confidence from a lot of our channel partners.
Q: Why did you select AWS as your preferred cloud provider? What has the cloud enabled you to do better?
A: As we decided to move our core to the cloud, we had multiple options to decide our cloud service provider (CSP). In fact, we met all CSPs at their headquarters in the US to understand the value that each of them will bring to our cloud migration. What really worked for us was the perspective of the AWS team that we met.
While others were focused on showing us how to do a safe transition from Data Centre to cloud, AWS opened our eyes to the transformative possibilities of the cloud. The perspective that came along with that was completely different. Where others were looking at being on the cloud as an end state, AWS was telling us that the movement to cloud from DC was just the beginning of a journey. They were able to differentiate from others in the value that they would bring to the entire project from start to end.
At the same time, we had a thorough cloud migration assessment completed independently to understand the key dimensions for selecting a cloud provider. The assessment was done on three important points -infrastructure, application architecture and security — with a greater emphasis being laid on security due to the regulated nature of our industry. AWS scored the highest in this assessment. Considering that AWS scored the highest in the independent assessment and that we would get more value in a partnership with them, we made the choice of going with AWS as our CSP. As an organisation, we have been able to move our core to AWS in March 2022.
However, for us, the journey has just begun. Since we had adopted a lift and shift approach, the real power of cloud native services is what we shall start utilising soon. Having said that, we have already started seeing benefits in terms of increased reliability (lesser complaints from intermediaries and distribution partners) and scalability (ability to accommodate increased volumes basis seasonality and various campaigns). At the same time, the ability to leverage new-age technologies and services has started helping us to begin rolling out new products and services quickly as a culture of experimentation and innovation continues to proliferate across the organisation.
Q: What’s next in your digitisation journey? Please tell us about your key digital initiatives planned over the next two years?
A: As consumer expectations and behaviours change, we believe that the insurance industry will continue to change by embracing newer technology, be it through an AI chatbot that acts as a Virtual Insurance Advisor, or an AI detection model that acts as a Digital Claims Adjuster or a ML model that acts a smart underwriter.
There will be prolific use of AI, ML and cognitive services that will help address needs such as digital adoption, customer experience management, operational efficiency, underwriting profitability, claims optimisation and much more. Specifically, on the claims side, IoT, drones, telematics and wearables will play a bigger role in prevention of incidents as compared to traditional claims management.