HDFC Ergo issues 90% of the policies digitally, end-to-end

Mehmood Mansoori, Group Head - IT, Operations and Online, HDFC ERGO General Insurance
Mehmood Mansoori, Group Head - IT, Operations and Online, HDFC ERGO General Insurance

HDFC ERGO General Insurance will issue over seven million policies this year and using, RPA, close to 5,000 policies are issued daily. One of the top general insurer in the country has also implemented IoT, voice analytics, chatbots and actively engages with the startup community in India and globally. Mehmood Mansoori, Group Head – IT, Operations and Online, HDFC ERGO General Insurance speaks to EC’s Abhishek Raval

BFSI institutions are actively partnering with the startup community. What efforts have you taken to bring in startups in your growth story?
We have institutionalised to have a constant connect with the best in the startup ecosystem. We have a Head of Innovation who focuses on the use cases for insurance from the emerging technologies and also InsurTech. We also have centres in Berlin, London and California to connect with the thriving startup community there. I, as a part of our board team, went to study the startup ecosystem in the silicon valley. HDFC ERGO will soon launch an incubation centre in India to encourage startups. We have a Senior VP of Innovation, who only looks after the InsurTech space and how can HDFC ERGO create use cases around them.

Please share the overall IT initiatives taken recently.
General insurance business is about volumes. We provide policies of low ticket size – Policies are sometimes priced as low as ` 10. Technology enabled business acquisition process eliminates a lot of intermediation, resulting in efficiency and effectiveness. Hence at the company, the addition in manpower is not in the same ratio as the growth in business volumes. We are able to do more with less; 90 per cent of the policies are sold in a touch free mode. It can be any of the following: the policy has been bought or renewed by the customer in a self service or touch free mode; the agents have keyed in the details on their laptops, tabs or desktops etc; or in tight integration with our partners like banks, aggregators, retailers. It takes close to five minutes to issue a fresh policy to the customers. In case of life insurance, even if the case is complicated, which requires a medical check, it can be done over the call with any of the 5,000 labs that we partner with. The report is uploaded and an automatic underwriting is done by our system based on the rules, except for the rarest of the rare case, where a doctor consultation is required. An offer goes to the customer and based on his response, the policy is issued.

  • Robotic Process Automation (RPA): It is used for policy issuance. Using RPA, close to 5,000 policies are issued daily. This process is minimally dependant on the human resources

Chatbot with a focus on:

  • NLP: The chatbots implemented by us help the agents to solve different customer queries, which have drastically reduced the average handling time; there is consistency in how the agents respond to the queries; the user experience has shot up by more than 10 times. The bots make the agents remember certain important tasks discussed on the call like; for example, making the agent to SMS the information to send the required documents. Usually he verbally asks the customer. In that case, many times the customer sends the wrong documents or he isn’t able to note down the document type etc. The bots make sure the communication is structured and doesn’t go haywire. HDFC ERGO is also working on building a knowledge base for the AI platform to be more effective. The company has hired behavioural science experts – they will head the initiative. It’s turning out to be a complex project but I am hopeful, the project will power the chatbot to redress customer queries all on its own rather than assisted through the agents. The chatbot will be more Natural Language Processing (NLP) oriented than having a few buttons with probable responses.
  • Internet of Things (IoT): A pilot has already begun to use IoT. Three years ago, telematics was used to gauge the driver behaviour using gyro-sensors. Very soon, an IoT solution will be launched to offer a product based on the driver behaviour. This time, we have taken a device based approach. We are still evaluating the mechanism. This is on the motor side. We have already begun pilots with multiple industries using the IoT solution, since ERGO Asset Management company has a decent technology setup in Munich. The sensors are friendly to information intake based on characteristics like heat, smoke, leakages, which can apply to various industries. IoT can provide tremendous potential to provide insurance at more appropriate premium rates. It also helps to avoid claims and disruption to the customer. The IRDAI will soon issue guidelines on IoT devices, which allows for product innovation.
  • Voice analytics: On the voice analytics side, the pilot is over. It helps to understand customer sentiment. This also includes vernacular languages. It will help us in monitoring the agent’s performance; for example, is he greeting the customer properly, is he raising the alarm properly, when he needs help, is he doing something that he isn’t supposed to do. Usually, it’s difficult to identify these faults during audits. Voice analytics will help us to take surgical actions on rectifying the mistakes made by agents. This will reduce customer repeat calls and also finetune agent behaviour and call quality.

How have you changed the process on the company-customer interaction?
Servicing involves cutting the layers of interfaces that the customer has to interact with. Usually, there are multiple departments involved in servicing the customer. It can be the underwriter, operations, sales, claims or any other department. The more the departments, more the silos. In effect, it’s burdensome for the customer to go from pillar to post. We have reimagined customer processes and laid the focus on Customer Experience (CX). Now, the customer will not interact with more than two functions, instead of multiple functions that he had to transact with earlier. It can be either the CX function – the agent and any of the other functions. We have consolidated the decision making process in the hands of few important executives. The necessary capabilities, system enablement has been done.Which programmes have you undertaken in the area of information security. How is information security placed at the board level?HDFC ERGO was the first company in the insurance arena to get ISO 27001 certified. The company has also been certified for BCM 22301. Though these were not regulatory requirements when the company got the certification. ERGO, as a group, has an information security setup. The calendarised initiatives by the group like VAPT testing and other programmes get presented when applying for various certifications and they are also well reviewed by the risk committee, which further reports to the board. Arvind Mahajan, ex-KPMG is an Independent Director with the company. Thus IT and security is also appropriately represented at the board level.