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News & Views


Wednesday, Feb 2, 2011

Online insurance policies offer additional benefits to consumers

   [Source : The Economic Times]

More and more businesses are moving away from brick-andmortar establishments to set up shop in the virtual realm of the World Wide Web. Though the dotcom bubble might have been short-lived, companies have realised that having a relevant presence on the internet is no longer an option but a necessity.

The first action people usually take when they want to know more about a company is to go online to check the company’s website and digital footprint. The internet is used to research extensively before making a decision. This holds true even for the insurance sector where information asymmetry is widely prevalent and the internet offers a great way to gather knowledge. It also offers the ability to complete a transaction and in some international markets as high as 30% of mo-tor insurance is transacted online. All retail insurance products such as cars, bikes, health, travel, home, personal, accident and critical illness insurance are available online with instant real-time policy issuance. So how does online insurance benefit customers?:

Convenience:

This remains a key factor as to why customers are adopting the digital experience. You can access the company 24x7, 365 days a year and from anywhere in the world. There is no need to leave the comfort of your surroundings to get the job done.

Instant:

If you need an insurance policy issued or renewed even at the last minute, go online, this is the promise that the digital medium thrives on, with satisfaction also delivered in an instant.

Simple:

With online transactions, gathering, filing and sorting all your insurance information is simplified. Your profile and historical policy information is available readily and can be accessed easily.

Security:

Digital security has evolved and has become trustworthy in recent years, with more and more people transacting online. People find it safer to shop online than having to carry money around in public. There are multiple online payment options to pay your insurance premiums via secure gateways, including internet banking, credit cards and debit cards.

Discounts:

The cost of issuing a physical policy can be above Rs 250 for the insurer. Instant online paperless transactions hence help save operational costs and this can be passed on to the customer. For in-stance, icicilombard.com offers a 2.5% discount on online renewals of car insurance.

Transparency:

Insurance policies are legal documents with specific terms and conditions. It is important for you to know and understand what you are buying. The insurer’s website offers all information related to the product, allowing the customer to research the product well before making a purchase. Policy Wordings can also be downloaded and used as a ready reckoner.

Extensive Support:

The online world gives the customer access to a multitude of contact options. These include 24x7 live chat, lead capture forms, feedback sections, online service request trackers, premium calculators and renewal reminders. Staying updated on the go is only made possible through the internet.

Mobile Access :

Modern mobile handsets and smart-phones come equipped with GPRS allowing internet access and insurers now have websites that adapt to the mobile interface. This allows customers to access insurance related content even through the mo-bile and do transactions via GPRS and 3G .

Online connectivity has also empowered customers by offering convenient service and instant gratification, with additional benefits that are hard to be found elsewhere. If you haven’t gone online yet, now is the time.

(By KARTIK JAIN, Head Marketing & Direct , ICICI Lombard General Insurance)

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