Tech can make insurance more accessible but insurance needs to evolve

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Let’s be frank from the outset here, the insurance industry has come a long way in recent years but more work is needed if we want to make insurance accessible to more people.

Yes insurance is a grudge purchase and nobody celebrates their monthly debit order (at least we hope people aren’t) but unfortunately insurance is something quite necessary in daily life whether it be household, vehicle, medical or life insurance.

Looking specifically at vehicle insurance, the AA reports that 60 – 70 percent of the 11 million registered vehicles in South Africa are uninsured. While the AA used this as a jumping off point about selecting insurance, one has to wonder why such a large portion of the country doesn’t have insurance.

Somebody with more to say about the topic than just commenting on the cost is account manager at Liferay, Greg Gatherer. Liferay build digital experience platforms for big name clients like T-Mobile and Domino’s.

“There are a whole host of reasons for that insurance shortfall, including the country’s deep-set economic troubles and lack of education around the need for insurance and the benefits it brings. But it’s also worth bearing in mind that insurers aren’t powerless when it comes to bringing the underinsured and uninsured into their collective fold,” explains Gatherer.

Technology has been thrust into the limelight in the last 12 months because, well, we needed it for everything from news to entertainment. However, insurance has traditionally been slow to adopt new technologies and this needs to change not only for the benefit of customers, but the insurer itself.

For instance, why would a customer pay a monthly fee for vehicle insurance when they could use a system that is fully automated and instead only pay for the days they actually use their vehicle. Such a solution exists right now through Naked Insurance and one has to wonder, if a startup can do it, why can’t the bigger players?

In the instance above, the customer benefits from lower premiums while the insurer can free up resources to use elsewhere in the business and end up saving money.

The added benefit of this is that by making insurance more cost effective for the customer, the insurer may attract those who have never taken up insurance before. This, according to Gatherer, is how insurers should be thinking.

“I believe that insurers need to be more serious about growing their customer base among those who are uninsured and underinsured. In order to do so, they must go beyond simply adding features (however innovative they might be). Instead, the whole organisation needs to apply digitally transformed thinking to understand how to best meet the needs of these potential customers,” the account manager adds.

And this presents yet more opportunity for job creation.

Consider the large swathe of people who are uninsured and then consider the complexity of insurance. Insurers could train entrepreneurs in rural areas to becoming a point of presence to help newly-insured customers understand what they are paying for, what they get and most importantly, help folks decrypt the jargon of insurance policies.

Of course, we can talk about what’s possible until the the heat death of the universe but, until insurers actually make the decision to make their products more accessible, this is all just us and Gatherer talking to the sky.

“What this ultimately shows is that insurance isn’t only something that should be within everyone’s grasp, but that it can be. Digital technologies can’t guarantee the shifts necessary for this to happen, but they can make it easier,” explains Gatherer.

Insurance needs to change and technology can enable that change. Whether those in charge of change however will embrace it, is another matter entirely.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.