RGA provides quarterly updates on global product developments, which can be made available upon request. View the Q4 2020 digital newsletter.
The year of the pandemic has brought many changes to the insurance industry. Some of these will be fleeting and some will be more permanent.
This year has highlighted the importance of the employees' wellbeing. Employers are now looking at the whole health and wellness of their employees. There has been a focus on mental health offerings. Insurers are partnering with organizations providing virtual (digital) mental health services such as Mental Health Navigator Talkspace or Sanvello Virtual Care.
In partnership with insurtechs and companies such as Square Health and Gympass, insurers now offer a variety of services. Services include 24/7 remote general practitioner (GP) consultations, mental health support, private prescriptions, a second medical opinion service, and nutritional consultations. Insurers also offer programs to help millennials deal with their student loans. An insurer in the U.K. now includes benefits for leave associated with adoption, surrogacy and fertility, and transgender care.
There are now many apps and platforms to help manage the physical, emotional, and environmental factors of our lives. Some of the apps that insurers offer look at a person’s whole health such as Chubb Life Balance, SimplyMe, Bupa Balance, PC Health, and platforms MindSet4Life. The SimplyMe app offers to make a £5 donation to a youth charity for every download made. The Pulse app available in Asia allows employees to redeem their rewards through a variety of digital payment solutions. In Hong Kong, the BenePanda staff benefits mobile app offers more than 1,000 quality lifestyle products and services. Purchases via the app can earn 2% rebates in PandaCoins for quality products redemption or mileage conversion. BetterMe is a customizable employee benefits program where customers can increase the level of coverage or add-on coverage for critical illness or dental and other benefits.
Life insurance accelerating towards digital offerings
The pandemic has opened people’s eyes to the importance of life insurance. Together with saving for a rainy day, people now realize the importance of having a safety net. According to a recent COVID-19 Consumer Survey, four out of ten Americans do not think their finances will be back to normal before the end of 2021 at the earliest.
Another insurer’s survey found that more than one in five Americans (22%) say they have saved at least $1,000 during the pandemic this summer. 40% of respondents said that they plan to put extra cash toward an emergency fund, while 20% plan to spend it on necessities, and 20% plan to pay down debt.
Insurers are moving rapidly towards providing a fully digital life offering. Many products claim to need no medical exam and a decision can be made within minutes. Tailored questions related to the applicant’s specific circumstances are being used rather than being assigned the same set of 40 questions usually used.
Some of the term life products available via a digital platform include Simple Life, Haven Term Simplified, and Life and Protect. The Guardian Level term life insurance plan offers a built-in charitable benefit rider; this allows customers who are charity-minded to support their charity of choice upon their death.
Quility is a digital platform for the purchase of life insurance. The digital application takes ten minutes and there is no need for a medical exam. The platform also offers the support of a licensed insurance agent.
In Brazil, customers can apply for basic life coverage through the Nubank Vida app. Nubank offers 24/7 customer service and a simplified process for claims which can mean payment is made within a few hours.
In South Africa, a digital funeral plan is offered via WhatsApp. The plan pays out claims within 48 hours. Additional services offered with funeral plans include advance funeral payments, grief counselling and estate administration. One insurer offers a three-month income benefit for living expenses. This can be accessed through self-service kiosks at Pick n’ Pay stores.
Life insurance products are also available via aggregator sites. In many cases the process is fully digital and only takes five minutes. In some countries, insurers have linked up with retail stores, mobile telephone providers (Telkom), and e-wallet platforms (GCash) to offer insurance products. Customers can buy life insurance plans via these stores, via on-go-booths, and e-wallet platforms.
Telehealth services are here to stay
The pandemic has accelerated the presence of telehealth around the world.
Telehealth services are being offered via computer or smartphone and are available 24/7 for virtual consultations. Insurers have partnered with insurtechs, and health and medical specialists such as Doctor Care Anywhere, Whitecoat, Rocket Health and TruDoc. Partnerships also include platforms such as Dialcare and CareCloud Live, and wearable technology specialists such as GoQii Technologies and Amazon’s Halo.
New services offered via this medium this year include teledentistry, via suppliers such as SmileDirect Club, Virtudent, Cigna Dental Virtual Care, and Teledentists. In the U.S., prescription services are offered via Uber Eats. In addition, access to second medical opinions, telepsychiatry, physiotherapy, Remote Online medical exams (ROME), and Holmusk’s nutritional consultations are available. In the U.K. an insurer offers a remote phone skin cancer service.
The importance of people’s health is also being highlighted. A large insurer in Asia has undertaken a Healthier Together survey and has identified eight specific behaviours to enable people to lead healthier and longer lives. These are to: have an optimistic outlook; be active and engaged; self-motivate; understand yourself and your emotions; feel a sense of independence; maintain quality relationships; never stop learning or exploring; and make time to recharge.
There is a rising awareness of the importance of wellness. Sureify and Life.io are among the companies offering wellness platforms to US life insurers. Their software tools give insurers ways to educate, engage, and track the health of their customers, including through wearables that the customers use.
In some cases, insurers offer to cut premiums for healthy customers, or those customers willing to go the extra mile to change some habits that improve their health. Dacadoo, a digital health provider, has partnered with large insurers and offers a combination of motivational techniques from behavioral science, gamification principles, and social networking.
Health scoring tests in the U.S. include the RealAge® Test which calculates the actual age of the body based on lifestyle factors. In Singapore, Manulife’s MOVE Health Score encourages customers to make healthier choices. The score is calculated by customers answering six onboarding questions related to body composition, nutrition, exercise, sleep habits and stress levels. In India, an online health assessment test claims to be able to give a person’s total score. In Canada Sprott has a Quality of Life Index which assesses the user’s lifestyle and provides a set of recommendations. By answering an online questionnaire, the platform identifies healthy behaviors – movement, sleep, emotional health, nutrition and overall lifestyle balance – to determine the most relevant policies for its customers.
Insurers have also established partnerships with supermarkets to promote the importance of healthy eating. In Australia, Woolworths customers can collect points for money spent on fruit, vegetables, and whole foods. In Canada, customers can earn similar points at Loblaws. Partnerships with other suppliers such as Shipt, a same-day delivery service, helps customers conveniently access groceries and everyday essentials, and FarmBoxx is a farm-to-home grocery subscription service.
Chronic disease management
Insurers also offer platforms and apps to deal with chronic diseases such as diabetes or heart disease. Some of the diabetes programs include Path to Lifestyle change, Livongo’s Applied Health Signals platform, and BeatO's diabetes monitoring and management system. Another example, Level2, is an innovative new therapy that combines wearable technology and customized personal support to help improve the health of people living with type 2 diabetes. The mySugr Pro app helps people better manage their condition.
The Wellth smartphone app helps people to manage their hypertension, and Shapa's is a weight monitoring and lifestyle programs customized for critical heart flux (CHF) patients.
There are also platforms specializing in behavioural healthcare. Lark Prevention has four main coaching capabilities: weight loss; behavioural healthcare; tobacco cessation; and general health. Mindful, by Blue KC, is a new, enhanced initiative providing much-needed behavioural health services to members. The Naluri app offers a digital coaching programme which provides personalized and structured multidisciplinary behavioural and psychological coaching.
There can no longer be a “one size fits all” solution;, insurers must become more agile and flexible in providing health insurance plans that are specific to an individual need. One major insurer in Asia offers a modular Best Fit health insurance plan providing essential of 32 conditions, allowing the customer to pick the desired benefits and coverage level. It consists of a basic death benefit combined with an assortment of riders.
Financial wellness offerings include the setting up of an emergency account, debt management advice, and goal-based savings. Even, Olivia’s AI assistant, is available through an app that provides users with insights on how they could be spending their money in order to improve saving habits. SBI Life has launched an interactive online platform for consumers to self-assess their Financial Immunity Score. The platform aims to help consumers gain a better understanding of their preparedness and immunity against financial risk. The iGrad Enrich financial wellness platform offers customers an assessment to discover their financial strengths and challenges. Insurers now offer gift cards for gifting insurance coverage to your family. In Singapore a company has launched a new concept whereby customers can build up insurance coverage through their Visa card spending.
Move to a hybrid business model
The emergence of a hybrid model to sell insurance means combining the expertise of an agent together with a digital platform. These hybrid experiences are especially popular among insurance buyers in the Gen X and Millennial generations, but not so popular with the Baby boomers who prefer to meet an agent face-to-face.
According to the BCG/LIMRA Life Insurance Customer Experience Survey, July/August 2020, with a product as complex as life insurance customers value the back and forth with an agent. An agent can explain the importance of a savings plan or a long-term care rider, for instance. The use of digital illustrations and interactive financial calculations can also assist in the sales process.
One insurer in the US offers the ACE (Accelerated Client Experience) tool. ACE is all-in-one tool, capable of handling policy applications, digital illustrations, billing and collection, and the electronic delivery of policies.
In Hong Kong, an insurer is rolling out a non-face-to-face sale process (the 'Digital Enrollment System') for new applications. In India, a paperless KYC process is called ‘ANANDA’, which is an acronym for Atma Nirbhar Agents New Business Digital Application. ANANDA will enable an agent to complete a policy even without physically meeting the customer. The e-KYC (Know Your Customer) service will provide seamless customer on-boarding during the online application process.
An insurer in India has launched a 360-degree digital delivery platform. It brings together all the digital platforms in one place. The integrated platform can now identify leads, generate interest, call customers, enable video chats or online conferences with customers, and eventually issue a policy document.
conVRse is an experiential Virtual Reality (VR) platform which provides an immersive and personalized experience to customers. Customers will be able to chat to experts, view policy details, know the status of their claim through an interactive experience.
The digital acceleration of services has also extended to using WhatsApp to deliver policy, claims and renewal documents. BLISS allows the contract to be validated and created using a biometric thumb impression. The HER triage engine helps speed approval of life insurance applications. Developments in claims include the eAZy Claim app, which aims to accelerate the processing of a health insurance claim, and Claims Ami, a brand-new online chat tool designed to answer simple claims questions quickly.
The pandemic has provided an opportunity for insurers to become more innovative. For many people it has highlighted the importance of just putting aside money every month for an emergency fund. Whether the pandemic has curbed your spending or stopped it altogether, it has brought home the importance of planning for the unexpected.
The pandemic has also emphasized to insurers the importance of the whole person their physical, mental and financial health. Each person is unique, and the move towards customizable products is one that will gain momentum.
Stay tuned for future releases of our quarterly newsletter to see where the next innovations will take us.