Why I’ll never look at insurance the same way again

Digitalisation in insurance means greater convenience, speedier customer journeys and better control.

Insurance disrupted my childhood. Fast-forward decades later, a new kind of insurance is changing my adult life.

 

Insurance disrupted my childhood. It all started when I was about five years old. Insurance took away what I enjoyed and made me feel much smaller than I really was.

 

Back then: How insurance disrupted my childhood

Here’s what insurance did to me when I was a little bitty kid:

  • It stole my weekend TV time and play time. Whenever my parents brought me along to their meetings with an unfamiliar “uncle” (aka Mr Insurance), I had to miss my favourite Sesame Street show.
  • It reminded me of things I disliked. The long insurance talks peppered with bombastic words made me feel inferior - just as I did during my least favourite classes at school. As for the endless paper forms my parents had to fill, I thought they were like dreaded exams.
  • I had to sacrifice my personal space for it. My prized Lego models that sat in the showcase of my family living room were displaced by super-thick insurance documents that no one ever looked at!

All this, plus the industry’s general image – old-fashioned, slow to adopt technology, complicated and unfriendly – caused a rift between insurance and me, even when I started working and understood the importance of having insurance.

 

That was then.

 

Today: How insurance is changing my life in a different way, because of digitalisation

Fast-forward a few decades and it’s like the insurance industry is going “Oops, I did it again!”. Digital disruption across the sector is once more affecting my life in a big way.

Over the past decade and especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, insurance seems to be shedding its slow-moving “tortoise” image for some real-time action. The catalyst: explosive digitalisation. Technological leaps are not just making insurance simpler and less of a hassle than its former self; they also put me in control of what I want. It’s just what consumers of this generation have been waiting for – insurance that’s right here and right now.

Insurance is no longer just a product you buy and then put the policy document away until it’s needed. It’s now a sticky, continuous service that keeps engaging you and is always there. It’s like a lifestyle “buddy”.

Explaining the reason for the rapid rise in digitalisation in insurance, Varun Mittal, Group Head of Digital and Ecosystems at Singlife with Aviva, said this during a radio feature on Digitalisation in Insurance: “This Netflix-Spotify-Grab generation is thinking, ‘I can have everything I want right here, right now. So, why not my policy benefits? Why should I have to go to my closet to pull out a 50-page document to read it? Why can’t I see it now?’

“They’ve created that impetus for everything to evolve and move forward. The way I look at it, the competition for an insurance company is not from another insurance company. It is in every digital experience that customers are having in their daily lives.”

The result of this digitalisation is a new kind of insurance, and here’s how it’s changing my life in a big (and welcome) way:

Varun Mittal, Group Head of Digital and Ecosystems at Singlife with Aviva
Varun Mittal, Group Head of Digital and Ecosystems at Singlife with Aviva

You’ll soon be able to see your CPF balance as well as any other investments and insurance you’ve bought from different companies in one place. You don’t want to go through six different apps to figure out what’s happening with your finances.

  • Everything is more connected: Insurance is no longer just a product you buy and then put the document away until it’s needed. It’s now a sticky, continuous service that keeps engaging you and is always there. Through customer portals, apps, phone messaging, email alerts, social media and insurance blogs that I can subscribe to, insurance has become more than just a policy document. It’s like a lifestyle “buddy”.

    As a result, I’ve become more knowledgeable about protection, I’m kept updated about things like changes to my MediShield coverage, and I get SMS notifications when my policy renewal is due (no more policy lapses because of unpaid premiums!).

    Connectedness in insurance also means a holistic suite of financial services. Mittal says, “Singlife is the only insurance company which has a debit card solution that shows the interest on your account balance, your insurance plans, and wealth solutions in one platform. Going forward, customers will be able to see all their policy benefits, card details and wealth in one place. They’ll be looking at a better way to achieve financial freedom with one platform.

    “And by the end of 2022, when SGFinDex rolls out for insurance companies, you’ll also be able to see your CPF balance as well as any other investments and insurance you’ve bought from different companies in one place. You don’t want to go through six different apps to figure out what’s happening with your finances.”
  • More time savings: When Covid-19 lockdown and circuit breaker measures made in-person meetings between customers and advisers impossible, it led to one great time-saver: virtual meetings. Using video conferencing platforms, I can now get personalised help from an adviser, do co-browsing, and I can discover my needs and my family’s needs – all from the comfort of home.

    Digitalisation in insurance has also given birth to online forms. This doesn’t just tick my eco-friendly box, but makes form filling faster and hassle-free – especially when there’s the option for SingPass users like me to authorise my insurer to use my MyInfo Profile to pre-fill forms. Goodbye to writing my name and NRIC number 10 times in a single form!

    For time-starved people, being able to go through the entire quote-to-buy process online is brilliant. I’ve bought travel and home insurance as well as life insurance using my smartphone – all within minutes. Web resource centres, online calculators, and artificial intelligence-powered product recommendation engines help me choose what I need quickly.
  • More in control: While there was limited self-service for most insurance products in the past (which meant I had to bother my financial adviser representative each time I needed to check my coverage or update my address when I moved house), I can now do various things on my own.

    Highly secure digital platforms, like online self-services and smartphone apps, immediately let me see what benefits I have, manage my policies, find a healthcare specialist, and upgrade my coverage. I’ve even made claims online using a nifty app that also lets me check my claim status anytime.

 

What's next?

It took a while for this new insurance to hit us, but I’m sure it isn’t the end of the evolution. Ongoing digital disruptions in insurance will bring even bigger and better things for customers, and like that five-year-old who always couldn't wait for a new episode of Sesame Street, I'm looking forward to seeing what comes next!

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