Our Insurance eCommerce, B2C concepts needed some revisiting….

A PROJECT INTO INSURANCE e-COMMERCE FOR AGENTS

A PROJECT INTO INSURANCE e-COMMERCE FOR AGENTS

I attended a function recently, a function where bloggers gather in a drinking place to make a fuss about all sort of things – from slow internet speed, poor paying advertisers, useless software to falling out with girlfriends and so on. Sometimes not too sure what is this OLD GEEK trying to achieve around them!

While in the function I met a lady journalist (at least now I’ve found someone who is not a geek but young anyway) who asked me about the subject of purchasing insurance online. She seemed to be confused between buying online and buying from the agency force – she was of the opinion that online purchase is the domain of the insurer rather than of insurance agents. My reply to her in a nutshell – Insurance eCommerce is simply about the usage of internet-driven technology, website and social media networking tools in the distribution and dispensation of insurance products to the end-customers. The internet provides a truly level playing field for all stakeholders, whether insurers, agents, brokers or third party outsource.

Of course the discussion went on for quite a while touching on numerous issues that are peculiar to the non-life insurance industry. I shall tag those important aspects of our discussion below….

 

IS INSURANCE e-COMMERCE, B2C FOR INSURER ONLY?
Anyone who has access to the internet can utilise eCommerce principles in their business. Whether you are an insurer, intermediary or third-party outsource provider, you have ample opportunity to leverage on available eCommerce capabilities and options to expand your business.

Insurance eCommerce (B2C) development in the US markets clearly show the importance of agents and end-customers buying online still prefer agents to assist them in other aspects of the insurance products, especially claims.

In Malaysia, you are seeing MyEG, AirAsia and Tune Money making their presence in the insurance eCommerce environment, and you may add, they did make an impart on our industry landscape.

Thus the transactional relationship can now come in numerous forms:

  1. Insurer (B) → Customer (C)
  2. Insurer (B) → Intermediary (Bi) → Customer (C)
  3. Intermediary (Bi) → Customer (C)
  4. Numerous Intermediaries (Bi) → Outsource third-party (SHARED) transactional web-portal → Customer (C)
  5. Intermediary (Bi) (also termed AGGREGATOR) → Numerous Insurers (B) → Customer(C)

As a whole, it is not too difficult to understand what was explained in the tag, perhaps we can elaborate on the numerous forms of transaction, from 1 to 5.

 

COMBINATION OF TRANSACTION WEB-PORTAL AND TELEMARKETING? 😈
….can be a powerful combination especially when dealing with audience who preferred to GET A QUOTE and let the rest done through TELEMARKETERS

Item 1 is straightforward and item 2 is where the insurer provides the transactional portal (or the web-portal where actual buying and payment online are done) for their intermediaries to enable their customers to purchase online. Item 3 is where you can see in the case of MyEg, MAS and AirAsia – agents set up their own transactional portal, which simply shows they are in control over their insurer.

Item 4 is about agents joining force in working out a service contract with a third party’s owned portal. Usually this third party owned portal can link up their database with the insurers prescribed by the intermediaries for easy back-end administration. Currently there is none in Malaysia but it is not difficult for Financial Link or Reward-Link to explore this area of development.It is necessary for a few agents to come together and combine their resources in order to achieve those economies of scale.

Item 5 is really about large and resource-strong agent taking advantage of a detariffed market, especially where motor and fire segments are one day detariffed or less-tariff regulated. We can actually see this form of transactional relationship (or Aggregator) in Europe, especially in London – Tesco is into this form of B2C transaction.

 

IS BUYING ONLINE MORE EFFICIENT COMPARE TO OTHER FORMS OF DISTRIBUTION CHANNEL?
This would largely depend on the customer’s requirements and their confidence level with the distribution channel. Usually those from the younger generation would prefer transaction over the internet especially if they have already know someone from the service provider side, ie. agent or staff of insurer. The confidence level is a major driver towards online purchase.

The other important factors would be the amount of information needed to be input during the purchasing process, the speed in data transaction (usually dictated by the bandwidth of the host server) and the payment gateway’s efficiency. Not forgetting the importance of online purchasing support.

Of course also not forgetting, most online purchases are in regards those SIMPLE AND STRAIGHTFORWARD PRODUCTS, ie. “commoditised” products, like motor, PA and basic Health plans.

Generally, if those standard issues are dealt with, then purchasing online can be a more efficient buying option than the more established practices. On the other hand, end customers are expecting premium savings when they buy online…. As of now, the non-life industry is already providing a 5% mandatory rebate for motor insurance if purchase by an individual directly from the insurer, and come 1st July this year, the mandatory rebate 1ould be 10%…. I believe our industry should know how best to work things out!

 

WHAT TO DO WHEN THERE IS A CLAIM?
I must say, the industry is not too efficient in this aspect but generally the insurer’s panel workshop should be able to work things out if this involved a motor insurance claim. Otherwise, it is the usual thing, talk over with your agent or insurance personnel over the phone or email to resolve things or obtain some advices before proceeding.

Anyway, I do not think it is too difficult for insurer to create standard claim forms where the Insured can fill up and submit online. Once submitted, the name and contact number of a dedicated personnel from the service provider would be email to the Insured.

STAKEHOLDERS MAY HAVE SPENT SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT TO DEVELOP THE TRANSACTIONAL PORTAL, CAN THIS GUARANTEE SUCCESS?
What this means in short is about the traffic to the transactional web-portal, and if there are indeed sizeable traffic but how can we turn them into audience and finally, achieving those conversion rates.

The answers to the usual questions are clear, insurance eCommerce from the B2C perspectives can be easily put in place, but it is really a question of CONCEPTS or BUSINESS MODEL adoption before moving into implementation. By the way, B2C simply means “business to consumer”. As to why is there the need for clear and precise

Will our Malaysian insurance eCommerce be as bad as this take?

 

concepts and models adoption, it is really about putting the complete VALUE-CHAIN in place – an efficient and effective value-chain means over the mid-term, customers would come flocking in…… JUST LIKE BUYING YOUR AIR TICKET VIA AIR ASIA’s transactional web-portal and NOW…. THE REALITY, THIS SAME WEB PORTAL OF AIR ASIA also churned up a whooping RM40 million in Travelers’ Personal Accident premiums for the industry!

“Will the 10% mandatory motor rebating (taking effect 1st July) provide the much needed push for consumers to go online?”

Anyway, it did not make much of an impact with the 5% mandatory rebate which took effect on 1st July 2009! Do you have any comment?

 

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13 comments for “Our Insurance eCommerce, B2C concepts needed some revisiting….

  1. April 18, 2010 at 21:33

    How can you be so sure about Buying insurance and Quotes Online | Malaysia Insurance Online ? Although most of the information provided is true as per my knowledge but I don’t agree fully. I think it should be more practical. I visited your website while searching for gateway insurance and hope to see more good information on gateway insurance. Do keep up the good work.

  2. banana split
    April 15, 2010 at 12:50

    If claim processing details can be updated to the B2C portal that should be good motivation for insured to buy through the net. Customers can report claim via the portal and monitor the Insurer’s request and handling progress online. Waiting for such a day.

    • April 17, 2010 at 20:05

      Certainly this is one of the many keys to making a B2C portal more complete but this would takes time….

  3. April 5, 2010 at 08:28

    Judging from the number of Malaysian agents and insurers moving towards the usage of social media networking tools including the use of blogging, I think the trend towards B2C is now getting very prominent! Wish you the best in your project.

  4. March 25, 2010 at 22:47

    Wait for the day where we can enjoy buying insurance on the net.

    • March 25, 2010 at 23:02

      Of course buying online must also have some motivating factor, such as easy data entry of information and payment on line.

  5. March 22, 2010 at 20:59

    Well said, well Said! which model is malaysia insurance industry taking shape?

    • March 23, 2010 at 01:02

      Will take a long while to see the trend but everyone is waiting for their neighbour to go first… Whichever way, I hope those people sitting in decision chairs do screw up the Malaysian eCommerce environment with their old aged decisions.

      • March 24, 2010 at 08:15

        Good take on e-commerce, hopefully one day it is easy to check all your insurance policies and status online 24/7 Any web portal in the country constructed to cater for this?

        • Anonymous
          March 25, 2010 at 19:31

          Supposed this online life and general insurance account keeping should be the reality and motivation for buying online. When we buy, we can keep what we buy in a file so that we can have access whenever we want.

          • March 25, 2010 at 23:01

            I am sure some companies are already building on such platform….. hope they can be successful!

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