Reshaping insurance in the digital age

Insurance companies reshape their services with AI to elevate customer experience (image: MicroStockHub/iStockPhoto)

Longer life spans of humans, increasingly digital lifestyles, and the growing use of emerging technologies have made many insurance companies in Hong Kong to reshape their services to elevate customer experience.

Empowering digital health

“We are not only selling insurance policies to customers but are becoming their life partners,” said Knattapisit Krutkrongchai , CMO at AIA International Ltd in a panel discussion at the AI Summit last month. “Our mission now is to help customers live healthier, longer and a better life.”

The insurer’s wellness program AIA Vitality incentivizes customers for getting healthier through lifestyle rewards and offers. They could use fitness devices and apps to sync their workout data to the program to track their workouts while earning rewards. 

“We become engaged with customers every single day. Technologies and data are the key enablers to make that happen,” said Krutkrongchai.

“We have tons of data from our customers for decades. Our distribution partners and independent financial advisors also have huge amount of data,” said AIA CTO Mark Seifried. “We are trying to line up technologies to support our partners and provide the most suitable advices to customers.” 

The AI Summit 

To provide an enhanced customer experience, AIA introduced a customer service robot and chatbot early this year.

According to AIA, the customer service robot named Andy is in service at its customer service center in Tsim Sha Tsui. Featuring facial recognition technology, the robot can interact with customers in Cantonese, Mandarin, and English. It provides information such as insurance product details, current weather, and currency exchange rates in response to customer enquiries. 

An online chatbot is also available for customers. The chatbot can answer log in, e-claims submission, and policy premium enquiries from customers via the company’s mobile app. 

“Looking forward we see a convergence of multiple technologies—big data, AI, and blockchain ,” said Krutkrongchai. “These technologies help us serve customers in a way that we have never been able to do.”

Ramping up tech spending

Other insurance companies also realize that digital technologies help them excel in the digital age. 

AXA Hong Kong has a chatbot named Alex to provide tips on health and wellbeing. A mobile and web app is also provided for customers to view their insurance policies and conduct online transactions such as submitting claims, managing investments, and searching for doctors.

The company announced in August that it will invest HK$200 million in fintech this year.  It aims to utilize big data, AI, and digital technologies to provide simpler and more personalized services to its customers.

Prudential built an AI system with a chatbot to deal with insurance claims management. Customers can submit their hospital claims electronically and get claims status updates via the chatbot. The company said claims processing time can be significantly reduced to 2.3 seconds.

Broaden AI deployment

Consulting and IT service provider JOS collaborates with global and local technology partners to bring AI capabilities to its customers.  Having done a number of chatbot projects with insurance companies in Hong Kong including AIA, JOS believes chatbots will have a broader deployment in the insurance industry. 

“Chatbots have been used in-house to support customer facing agents for a while,” said Mark Lunt, JOS group managing director in a media interview at the AI Summit. “As the chatbot technology gets better, companies are becoming more confident about exposing that technology to customers.”

Lunt explained that with the advancement in AI algorithms and engine, and voice recognition particularly in the understanding of dialects and slangs, chatbots can derive more accurate meanings from what people say. They will be deployed widely across industries and various areas such as underwriting and actuary in the insurance sector. 

“Anything where there’s a question and answer, where there’s interaction, where there’s data being gathered. I’m sure AI will work,” said Lunt. “I’m sure there’re already algorithms that are very sophisticated for assessing risks, which are what actuaries do.”