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The Insurance Leaders’ Perspective

Insight Nov 22, 2022

Panel Information


  • Sheyantha Abeykoon – CEO at Boost, Malaysia
  • K G Krishnamoorthy Rao – CEO at MPI Generali, Malaysia
  • Rogit Nambiar – Group CEO at Tune Protect, Malaysia

Moderator: Rangam Bir – Board Member at The Malaysian Insurance Institute

Lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 provided a big push to accelerate the level of change, transformation, and innovation in the insurance industry. Five years of digital transformation have already been compressed into less than two years of work, as companies had to cope, adapt, and find new ways to thrive in the “Black Swan” event of our times.

Here are three lessons from the pandemic for insurers:

  • Know your customers – Since a lot of new consumers entered the digital space during COVID, fintech and digital companies were in a sweet spot for consumer adoption of technology. And the best part is that customer retention rates remained the same. But that shouldn’t be taken for granted because a frictionless first experience is critical for customer retention.
  • Fight for mindshare – Consumers started showing shorter attention spans and spending less time on digital apps, making it imperative for companies to be able to capture the digital mindshare of the consumer.
  • Rethink the product strategy – Companies had to revisit their product strategies and figure out what services to offer to whom and at what time because delivering a product when a consumer wanted it had become a key success factor.

In fact, customer retention is largely dependent on it.

3 fundamental concepts in digital insurance

  1. Believe in failing first – In this space, you don’t know what you don’t know.
  2. Build a culture where organized chaos is acceptable.
  3. Lead KPIs are vital – Consider setting up a customer gating process where you don’t launch unless the customer approves the product.

Additionally, it’s also about the customer and making things simple for them. And while you should incorporate digital into your DNA, you should not glorify it. Instead, there must be a focus on testing and launching.

With risks come opportunities…

  • Internal and external changes – When the pandemic struck, the biggest challenge was getting 100% of the workforce to work from home and ensuring customer service could be rendered without interruption. Because in insurance, third parties like service providers, loss adjusters, etc., must be equipped too. While digital transformation helped overcome these challenges, there was a pressing need for cultural change since agents were not comfortable using digital media or digital services.
  • Customer concerns are a trigger for innovation – Customers were also facing problems like cash flow and loss of income. During the months of MCO, the renewal rates of policies dropped. Most people either postponed their renewals or decided not to take insurance, especially motor insurance. To cope, insurers like Generali made the product more affordable and passed on some benefits in the insurance premium to the customer due to fewer claims.
  • The health insurance opportunity – Many people wanted insurance coverage for COVID-19. But health insurance policies often have exclusions during the pandemic. Consequently, some insurers developed smaller coverages to offer relief to customers, making product innovation essential. Similarly, product delivery and claim experience became more influential.

It is remarkable how the industry could address most of these challenges through partnerships with insurtechs.

Things to know before up-selling & cross-selling

  • timing matters
  • a frictionless first experience is sticky and has a positive impact
  • have a good product
  • start measuring KPIs
  • promote the idea that distributors can earn more income if they sell more because regulations prevent distributors from incentivizing sales in General Insurance (GI), unlike Life Insurance (LI)
  • the best time to cross-sell to an insurance customer is in the first six months of purchase or after a positive claims experience
  • simplify the insurance product and make it embedded insurance (ex. AirAsia bundled in COVID protection with the super plus)

Staying competitive in the war for talent

  • Remember that digital transformation requires upskilling or reskilling your workforce.
  • Be aware of specific areas where there is a talent shortage in the market (such as analytics).
  • MFRS 17 – upskill your existing team members to acquire new skills or get new talents where the market is scarce.
  • Getting the right set of people and inculcating the right culture is a must.
  • Work with incumbent talents and train them to ensure they have the right skills and mindset.
  • Be honest.
  • Help employees understand career progress.
  • Revisit compensation when necessary.
  • Understand that millennials and Gen-Z value symbols differently from previous generations.
  • Give flexibility to employees.