How InsureTech is going to make insurance better in the future

31 July 2020 Deepesh Thomas Digital Head of Standard Bank Wealth

Digital adoption has had a profound effect on the financial services industry in recent years, reshaping when, where and how customers interact with products and services.

The insurance space is no different with key technology trends already shaping the way consumers interact along the entire insurance value chain. InsureTech – or the use of technology innovation to drive cost saving and efficiency in insurance – is already disrupting the sector in South Africa. At Standard Bank we are exploring new technologies and philosophies that we believe will improve how we do insurance in the coming months.

Fail fast, succeed fast:

One of the proof of concepts we are looking at this year is a zero-code platform. It allows us to create application software through means other than traditional computer programming allowing us to rapidly prototype new products, test them with the market and then bring products to work quicker. Using this approach, we can cut product development time down from two or three years to six weeks giving us with the agility needed to meet consumer needs as quickly as they change.

Taking insurance to the people:

Insurance is not something people interact with daily. In most cases consumers only have three main touchpoints to their cover: at the time of purchase, at the time of a claim and in some cases at the time of renewal. One way of making insurance more accessible is to embed it into the existing digital landscape of a user by bringing it to a commonly adopted platform, which consumers are familiar with and find easy to use. This is how our soon to be launched WhatsApp funeral insurance chatbot came about. It uses WhatsApp as a client communication channel through which customers can purchase funeral insurance without having to go through a call centre.

With the Flexible Funeral Chatbot clients can purchase funeral cover and access the additional benefits of Standard Bank’s funeral cover offering, including groceries, catering and tombstones for the client, their immediate family as well as parents and in-laws.

It also adds a third channel for clients to access funeral cover, which is the second most sold product in the Bank. With the recent launch of WhatsApp payments in Brazil, we believe this channel will become more entrenched in the way our customers begin to interact with us.

Making homes smart to mitigate risk:

In the future homes will be smart. Using sensors insurers and homeowners will be able to mitigate risk through proactive management of the home. An example of this is the addition of sensors on geysers in the home. These sensors monitor the geyser and can warn of imminent damage. A plumber can then be dispatched to repair or replace the geyser before it bursts and causes more serious damage in the home.

This same technology can be used to monitor abnormal water flows, monitor your electricity spend and to improve your security using CCTV technology. In this way we can create a value-added ecosystem which mitigates risk and help you lower the cost of running your household by helping you manage your electricity spend and water spend.

Creating efficiencies through innovation:

Robotics processing automation (RPA) is also reshaping insurance service delivery by creating efficiencies. Traditional RPA models include a data analyst that sits with an individual for a period of time mapping out their work processed in detail, identifying the key pain points and opportunities for automation.

What our model does is install software onto an employee’s computer. This observes what is being done and maps out the process automatically through machine learning in turn creating efficiencies in workflows and processes. You can also map out the process as the business user which you want to be automated.

We intend to deploy RPA across the entire insurance value chain from sales, to the servicing, and claims components.

Making insurance more transparent:

There is a need to make insurance more transparent for both customers and insurers. This is especially true for the claims process. Blockchain allows us to automate certain claims and at the same time make the process wholly transparent. For example, a windscreen is between R750 and R1500 to replace. In that process the cost of assessment of that claim itself is high. Blockchain allows us to automate the process tracking previous claim behaviour and integrate with the service provider. Both the insurer and the customer have visibility to the entire value chain as a result.

Digital adoption has accelerated exponentially in the last few months because of the demand created by our current world conditions. Agility, cost saving and the ability to adapt to client needs will be integral to how insurers operate in the future.

InsureTech is sure to grow as more and more consumers move to digital platforms to manage their lives and financial needs.

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