Sunday 2017-11-19

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TECHNOLOGY TO INCREASE VALUE FOR INSURANCE CONSUMERS

By Manqoba Makhubu | 2017-11-15

NEW underwriting technology is anticipated to increase value, especially for individual insurance consumers in the next decade, according to Munich Re Africa Business Development Actuary Greg Becker.

Becker, who has presented in more than more than 25 countries, was guest speaker during Liberty Life Insurance Swaziland’s annual insurance and business breakfast seminar held yesterday at the Royal Swazi Spa in Ezulwini. 

He said this was because the shift from paper to system based processes would provide convenience of the sales process and fewer underwriting requirements compared to the traditional approach.

Also, he said fit and healthy consumers would also get a benefit in the price and a reduction, as charging of premiums will be in line with individual needs and their risk profile.

“Your health determines the price. For good health, the price is low and for bad health, the price is high,” he said.

Therefore, he said it was important for consumers to know that their choices and lifestyle will affect how long they live and that they should also understand that underwriting works out how they fare compared to others and that assessment feeds into the premium.

“Through different technology tools that provide evidence, the computers will know your lifestyle and what you are doing to stay healthy,” he said. He said the risk assessment tools and types of evidence used will also change.

He said this was more likely to come from consumers via their own health platforms on their mobile phones or wearable devices such as fitness trackers which allow for the monitoring of an individual’s health in real time.

Becker said even social media will also have an impact on underwriting.

He said through facial recognition technology, insurers would be able to predict their customer’s life span and they could also use Facebook to assess their customer’s lifestyles.

Thus, he said risk assessment would then shift from being a static process using historical data, to a dynamic process that relies on a flow of real-time risk assessment data.

While he said this might sound scary to some people, it could only be scary to those making poor choices.

“If you do good lifestyle choices, it shouldn’t be scary,” he said.

He said while most of the risky lifestyles were associated with smoking and drinking, there were other risks such as high road accidents and diabetes.

He further encouraged companies to provide incentives to encourage workers to maintain healthy lifestyles. Liberty Life Insurance Swaziland Managing Director Dumisani Dlamini said through the annual seminar, their intention was to engage with various players in their business ecosystem to discuss key local, regional and international trends.

“We also discuss insights and policies regarding insurance industry and the associated business landscape,” he said.

He said the seminar’s discussion around digital disruption and the impact of technology on insurance underwriting was timely for the company to share its insight, particularly from their perspective as underwriters.

“The digital age is disrupting traditional customer service models - new customer touch points are appearing the world over at breakneck speed and against a backdrop of very demanding clients and rising expectations,” he said.

Dlamini said their name, Liberty, stands for freedom and their purpose to guide their stakeholders towards financial freedom extends beyond their product offering.

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