Insurance Chatbots in a COVID-19 World

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More often than not, the insurance industry operates as the unofficial shock absorbers for society. From natural disasters to accidents, insurance helps consumers and businesses bounce back on their feet. But how are leading companies using Insurance Chatbots in a COVID-19 world?

To tackle this question, we’ll answer three questions

  1. How has COVID-19 changed Insurance?
  2. What are insurance companies doing to cope?
  3. How do you build & deploy an Insurance Chatbot as soon as possible?

We wrote a pre-COVID-19 Insurance blog that we’ll reference often in this blog. You can read it here – How WhatsApp Chatbots making Insurance quicker, faster & easier.


How has COVID-19 affected the insurance industry?

Insurance wasn’t an easy industry, even without the pandemic. Insurers operate in an unbelievably challenging environment – with cut-throat competition, high customer expectations, and stringent regulations.  Alongside this exist multiple other forces that impact the cost of operations and add to the complexity of existing processes, like privacy laws, compliance requirements, product approvals, etc.

None of this will get easier for Insurance in a COVID-19 world.

Six months into the pandemic that looks to be the new normal, companies are already seeing their businesses impacted from several angles. This includes, but is not limited to –

1. Major disruptions in M-Cap and Revenue.

Global premium revenue looks set to decline by around 5% this year. Life and health cover are likely to fall by about 10%. This has led to publicly listed insurers having their market capitalization plummet by as much as 35%.

2. Increased and everpresent pressure on agents and brokers.

The human impact of COVID-19 cannot be ignored. Insurance companies shifted into overdrive as they pushed a work-from-home set up overnight. Many insurance brokers and intermediaries are struggling too, particularly those focused on hard-hit sections like commercial insurance, travel insurance, and workers’ comp.

3. An increase in claims – business, personal, and otherwise.

As the pandemic continues to grow, companies and businesses alike have started seeking claims from their insurers. More people are falling sick, but fewer people are renewing their existing policies.

4. Regulatory changes a la moratorium, government pressure, etc.

To tackle liquidity challenges across the globe, governments are stepping in to pass regulations to ease the impact on consumers – which insurance companies find themselves running to keep up with. India’s apex bank the RBI recently announced its second 3-month extension on the moratorium on loan EMIs, leading to a massive increase in support ticket volumes.


What are insurance companies doing to cope?

Insurance Chatbots in a COVID-19 world won’t be the only augmentation companies make during the pandemic. Here’s what the leading companies we’ve spoken to have done to cope –

Proactive Digitization

Insurance firms that were already on the cloud or that had centralized IT solutions responded much quicker to the changing environment than their more cautious competition. And today, it doesn’t seem like even the latter have much of a choice in the matter.

Insurance companies, both old and new, have rapidly increased their investments in digital transformation in an effort to become more efficient and agile.

This digital investment ranges from bolstering existing infrastructure to adopting new solutions – and everything else in between.

Reinventing customer experience distribution.

Insurers that already had remote video sales capabilities in their arsenal got off the ground much quicker than everyone else.

They reached out to more customers, had more employees ready to work-from-home, and engaged in more effective cross-team, remote communication.

Face-to-face meetings are still needed and in most cases preferred. But remote sales solutions over chat, call, and video have shown insurers that they can use a highly effective combination of different distribution channels to drive results.

Video conferencing, voice-activated intelligent agents, and AI-powered chatbots have enabled insurers to sell & support customers while delivering exceptional experiences.

Economic Adaptation.

Even the most agile insurers have begun makes changes based on the economic slowdown by reviewing cost structures and targeting new-age revenue streams.

Where possible, it’s very much “out with the old and in with the new” for insurance companies. Some insurers will even revise sourcing strategies for resources and adopt more flexible approaches to managing in-house and outsourced processes.

Modern risk-management offerings like business continuity cover for enterprises, pandemic insurance, and event-cancellation policies have become more mainstream. Healthcare, a sector where insurers are expected to play a greater role, has come to the fore during the pandemic.  Value-added services that include patient-tracking apps, telemedicine, and remote safety alerts for vulnerable people have already begun being rolled out.

Rework workforce.

Right after the COVID-19 pandemic came the COVID-19 lockdown. Countries across the world implemented lockdowns with different time frames and varying severity.

Many employees, including crucial customer service reps, were now suddenly taken from their insulated cubby holes and placed at home. However, these workers often made substantial contributions to the success of such transitions. They showed the value of shared leadership, support for a common purpose, lifelong learning, adaptability, and ingenuity.

Insurers have a unique opportunity to build on this experience. They should extend their use of digital tools and intelligent systems to encourage greater workforce collaboration and innovation and to secure closer ties with agents, brokers, and intermediaries. Insurance providers can further improve employee productivity and skills development by increasing their use of workforce analytics.


How do you build & deploy an Insurance Chatbot?

If you’d like to see how conversational marketing can help Insurance businesses with specific use cases, you can check our blog WhatsApp Chatbot for Insurance with 13 use-cases. It has examples, images, and interactive videos that explain how chatbots help the industry. From reducing support tickets, generating quotes, document submission, and more.

The use cases below focus specifically on how Insurance Chatbots in a COVID-19 world can help your business – with pandemic specific use cases.

Moratorium Support

As the coronavirus ravaged the economy, many lost their jobs and were unable to pay rent, loans, and EMIs.

To support consumers during these difficult times, central banks issued moratorium policies.

The only downside was that insurance companies were suddenly inundated with thousands of these queries overnight – and their support systems were strained to the point of breaking.

Insurers that have used a Chatbot, on platforms like their in-house app or WhatsApp used conversational automation to have applications filled out and provide post-application support.

Reducing reactive queries

A reactive query is a support ticket that’s raised during an ongoing process. For example, a customer who’s applied for auto insurance wants to know whether it’s been approved.

These queries stem from information asymmetry – and tackling that problem requires insurance companies to keep consumers up-to-date, automatically, and at scale.

By using triggers and sending out event-based outbound messages on WhatsApp, insurance companies informed their customers every step of the way, on a platform their customers were on.

Automating Customer Support Queries

Handling thousands of concurrent customer support tickets has never been a challenge. Doing it while maintaining consistency, accuracy and speed is where the real difficulties lie.

80% of insurance queries come from a 20% data set of questions. Automating these common questions allows companies to free up resources (money, time, human capital, etc) that they can deploy to more creative means.

A chatbot allows you to automate these queries while providing your human agents with the tools to take on more challenging support tickets. This ensures –

  1. Faster response times for those who have easily automated queries
  2. Better support for those who need human support
  3. Less burnout and more agent efficiency

 

Remote Document Collection with WhatsApp

In a world where customers no longer want to –

  1. Meet people
  2. Exchange physical goods

Document collection becomes even more challenging. While many insurers have come a long way in digitizing these efforts, most have not come far enough still.

Decentralized collection, poor interfaces, and obsolete tools mean the sword of document collection continues to hang over the heads of several onboarding/sales funnels.

By moving to a more mobile-friendly, easy-to-upload interface like WhatsApp, insurers ensure that document collection becomes incredibly easy to use. A singular dashboard with easy integration allows for a central repository of documents, regardless of the channel of origin.

Faster TAT and Resolution Times

A problem solved quickly and well is better than a problem solved slowly and not at all.

Quick support is one of the tenents of customer retention. A customer who asks questions and has an immediate revert that the company will give them an answer soon is happier than a customer who’s only told hours later that an answer has been found.

According to Forrester, “45% of consumers will abandon an online transaction if their questions or concerns are not addressed quickly.”

However, in times like these, it isn’t just enough to have quick reverts. Companies need to tie that together with quick resolution – and conversational automation is the way to do that.

Insurance Chatbots in a COVID-19 World have allowed insurers to reduce their turnaround time to mere seconds and also allowed for much quicker resolution times.

About the author

Anush Fernandes

Loves Canines, Conversational automation, and Curry. Stephen and otherwise.