By Chiamaka Ajeamo
The future of underwriting business would be data driven hence; insurance companies that seek to remain relevant in the future must intentionally create and adopt digital channels that are customer-centric and friendly in order to survive and thrive in the emerging business space.
This and more were the consensus reached by experts who spoke at Leadway Assurance Limited virtual training organised in Lagos for insurance correspondents.
Speaking on the topic; ‘Insurance for the future’ the Principal Investment and Strategy Officer, Leadway Assurance Limited, Akinyemi Alebiosu, said that data has become the new oil and underwriting business in the future is going to be controlled by data and analytics.
Alebiosu explained that when insurers have proper data, it would enable them adapt to the changing business world as they can predict loss incidents and properly price them.
According to him, the industry is getting to a point where it will be using historical records, robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) in making decisions such as pricing and the extent of risks to be taken by underwriters.
“Insurance companies of the future will seek to collect large pools of data, examine and try to make meaning out of it; and data would help insurers to create predictive models and finally arrive at decisions that will make the products and services better.
“If we use data and analytics correctly in our underwriting process, the customer will be happy and all stakeholders will benefit from the insurance ecosystem,” he said.
Alebiosu noted that when it comes to client services, customers want more transparency, speed and efficiency, frequent and personalised communication and more customised products and services. He explained that the above challenges can be addressed with the employment digital technologies, since digitalisation enables insurers to interact with customers more easily and directly.
Highlighting emerging distribution channels which insurers can leverage to boost insurance adoption and equally enhance customer experience, he said online insurance disruptors such as; the social media, mobile and online platforms are gaining traction by appealing to the millennials’ tech-savvy attitudes as well as realising higher conversion rate due to seamless signup experiences.
Alebiosu maintained that when it comes to products and services, insurance companies of the future will need to consciously shift from direct selling to customers to adopting digital channels that are customer-centric and friendly because with time people do not need to visit or call anybody to buy policies but would only need to visit online to transact.
According to him, underwriters can enhance customers experience online and through mobile applications when they interact with customers on social media, where they can send messages and receive an instant response.
“Social media is also an avenue for customer education. It can be used for branding, marketing and consumer education purposes through advertisements and online reviews. If we compare the number of Nigerians on social media and the number of Nigerians that have insurance, you will see that we have a very long way to go.
“Many people in developing countries do not have access to the internet through a computer or smartphone, more common are basic mobile phones with which they are now increasingly able to purchase insurance policies, which they never had access to before for instance; microinsurance”, he said.
He added that mobile phones also improve customer experience by providing more access points to consumers and encouraging engagements while offering a positive experience.
“The way forward is for stakeholders to drive initiatives on digital technology. For us, at Leadway, our objective as a market leader is to lead initiatives in this direction. We realise that there are some things that if we do not do, others will not do. So, we made up our mind to lead industry initiatives. It costs us a lot of time and money, but we do not mind. We have been doing it and we will continue.
“Leadway is a solution based company, we want to see your problems, your risks and we want to solve them.”
For his part and speaking on ‘Understanding cyber insurance’ Uzodinma Ibe of the Casualty and Liability Underwriting, General Insurance, said, with increased online and internet connectivity becoming part of day-to-day business, as a result of COVID-19 pandemic, there was the need for protection against cyber attacks.
Ibe, citing a comprehensive report by a United Kingdom (UK) cybersecurity company, stated that there was high traffic when it comes to information, transactions and data emanating from Nigeria into digital space, adding that, the survey noted that 36 per cent of Nigerian organisations suffered cyber attacks in the last twelve months.
Pointing out that Nigeria has the highest data leakage in the world, he also noted that 64 per cent of cyber attacks in Nigeria exploited misconfigurations on the organisation servers.
On business activities, social networking and governmental activities, he said the report also identified where Nigeria as a digital hub is and the extent of its cyber exposures.
In order to avoid cyber attacks on computer networks, which sometimes resulted into data and financial losses, he said there is the need for enterprises, individuals and corporate organisations, to see it as a serious business and take up some form of cyber mitigating effort in this regard.
According to Ibe, “Here in Leadway, through our research we have been able to identify a particular area of cyber exposure where corporate entities can find themselves and see how we can do proper risk management and provide specific insurance product that can help them mitigate such exposures through cyber risk management insurance which in some quarters called cyber liability insurance.
“We have been able to highlight that technology, social media and transactions over the internet (cyber platforms) play a key role in how most organisations conduct business and reach out to prospective customers today. These vehicles have gateways – platforms, integrations that cyber attackers often use.
“We urge corporate entities, institutions, religious organisations and individuals to take up cyber risk insurance necessary to protect their database and computer networks from attacks by hackers”, Ibe said.
Earlier, the Executive Director, General Business, Leadway Assurance Limited, Adetola Adegbayi, implored Nigerians to embrace insurance, stressing that insurance remains a key source of raising fund to carter for risks.
According to him, Leadway has over the years, been providing happiness to the insuring public through prompt payment of claims.