“This is a wakeup call for the insurance industry in Pakistan and opportunity to increase penetration using technology”, commented Sibtain Jiwani, Chief Executive Officer at Smartchoice.pk, during an exclusive Q&A session with our Editor in Chief and shared his insights on the impact of COVID-19 outbreak on the overall insurance industry landscape in Pakistan.
1. How do you imagine insurance sector post COVID-19?
In the context of Pakistan, it’s going to be a daunting challenge as almost all new business generated specially in life insurance sector is done in-person where multiple meetings often take place from product pitching to insurance paperwork and premium payment. Similarly in non-life insurance sector which relies heavily on motor and property have been severely impacted due to low business activity and no new car sales in April.
With all this in view, insurers will have to adapt to the paradigm shift in consumer behavior and expectations they have from service providers. The insurance industry has to think of ways to move towards low touch models which are tech driven and tech assisted. This would need overhauling of the existing approach towards products and business processes.
2. What are the challenges and opportunities for InsureTech in the current crisis scenario?
Smartchoice.pk being InsureTech is already equipped and has been operational in this unfortunate crisis, since our business is technology first we do not rely on physical interaction hence we have become customers first choice for any insurance coverage they want for themselves or businesses. We have seen a huge uptake of employee health insurance in this crisis especially in SME sector who are now more worried about their workforce health and safety. With hand sanitizer and face mask becoming a priority, I expect employee health insurance to become the new norm.
3. What key actions did you make to stand by your customers and society?
At Smartchoice.pk we have served thousands of customers of who have bought health insurance through our platform in last 12 months. We proactively approached our insurance partners and got clarity on whether COVID-19 is covered, on confirmation we rolled communication via multiple social media platforms and email to inform our customers that they are covered in case they are diagnosed with COVID-19. We also partnered with Sehat Kahani to offer 3 months of free tele-medicine service to all our customers and new policyholders, this was very much appreciated as this enabled them to avoid hospital and clinic visits.
Additionally with our partner TPL Life, we launched a specialized insurance product which offers coverage of COVID-19 for entire family from as low as Rs. 6,000. Similar product of EFU Life, will also be available on Smartchoice that will allow individual coverage from as low as Rs. 800.
4. How do you see consumer behaviour shifting towards digital during this crisis time and what is your approach while understanding and responding to their needs?
Most countries including Pakistan saw uptake of e-Commerce and grocery shopping since this crisis took its toll, also financial institutions saw tremendous growth of their digital channels specially mobile banking and with SBP making Inter Bank Funds transfer fee this motivated the customer to do digital transaction.
I believe the same trend is to be seen in insurance industry however our biggest challenge today is penetration of insurance which is quite low, this crisis is a great opportunity for SECP to mandate insurers to move towards alternate digital channels and adopt ways to minimize interaction and finds ways to use technology to build specialized products keeping in view the changing spending patterns and needs of customers.
5. In your opinion, how InsureTechs can help insurance and financial sector to cope up with current crisis?
Smartchoice.pk is at the forefront to help insurers quickly make their insurance products available digitally on our platform, we have helped multiple insurers make their products available to masses. More than 70% of our customers are first time insurance policy buyers, this is due to our continuous investment in educating customers about insurance products and our approach to increase the size of pie instead of going after the existing market segment. We are geared to work with our insurance partners to grow the market size and now look beyond being an insurance aggregator only.
Via: Daily Newspk (https://dailynewspk.com/covid-19-exclusive-shifting-of-the-paradigm-with-sibtain-jiwani-smartchoice-pk/)