Reducing the health protection gap
The health protection gap is very real. In Malaysia, the difference between value of out-of-pocket medical expenses versus household income, is estimated to be USD47 billion in 2018. Jolene Loh, Head Client Markets, Life & Health Southeast Asia, Swiss Re. chats with Enterprise IT News about the role that Swiss Re can play.
EITN: Please explain what is the USD47 billion health protection gap in Malaysia? What does it mean for Malaysia?
Jolene: The health protection gap is the amount of financial stress households face. It comprises direct out-of-pocket medical expenses and unaffordable medical expenses of each households. In Malaysia, this gap is estimated to be around a staggering USD 47 billion in 2018. Insurance can play a key role in closing the protection gap by providing financial resources at times of unexpected medical expenses.
EITN: What can insurers do to adapt their business models to remain relevant for latest customer needs?
Jolene: Insurers need to accelerate the shift to digital with their services to accommodate the changing consumer preference towards digitalised services in the post-COVID era. Findings from the survey indicate that 64% of Malaysian consumers use digital platforms at least once a week while separately, 67% have expressed interest in using online channels to purchase insurance in future.
With these statistics in mind, insurers should start considering engagements with digital ecosystems such as eCommerce platforms or e-payment apps in order to future-proof their businesses and provide these new-age consumers a more wholesome and relevant customer experience. Insurers will also need to look into automating more processes to enable them to issue, underwrite, collect and indemnify with greater efficiency. An integrated digital journey from underwriting, to purchase, to claims settlement is becoming more of a necessity than an advantage in today’s increasingly competitive landscape.
Insurers will also need to look into automating more processes to enable them to issue, underwrite, collect and indemnify with greater efficiency.
EITN: There is a surge in purchasing insurance via online channels. Where does that leave insurance agents and offline support?
Jolene: At present, most Malaysian respondents are still leaning towards conventional channels such as agents and bank relationship managers due to the familiarity associated with the insurance discovery and purchase experience. But rightly mentioned, post-pandemic, we are seeing a growing slant amongst consumers towards the self-purchase of insurance digitally.
This will still take time to fully materialize, and in the meantime, some of our findings have also reflected that an omni-channel and hybrid approach needs to support the take-off of such discovery and purchase behaviors, as Malaysians do appreciate the availability of guidance and assistance as they seek certain insurance solutions for their own needs.
…Malaysians do appreciate the availability of guidance and assistance as they seek certain insurance solutions for their own needs.
EITN: Your report mentioned agents are still relevant to complementing online customer journeys. Do you foresee these agents needing to reskill to fulfill this need?
Jolene: With insurance companies offering more products that better meet digital consumer’s needs through digital platforms, agents need to continue refreshing and upgrading their product and knowledge capabilities to ensure that they offer a differentiated advisory perspective. This enables them to remain relevant and continue to offer the most suitable products to consumers according to their protection needs and throughout the entire customer lifecycle.
EITN: What does Swiss Re do, and how can Swiss Re help Malaysians narrow their protection gaps?
Jolene: Working closing with the insurance industry and digital platforms, Swiss Re can help Malaysians narrow their protection gap by using our research and insights on consumer needs and preferences to develop customer-centric propositions, thereby enhancing customer experience and improving the uptake of insurance protection.
The Swiss Re Group is one of the world’s leading providers of reinsurance, insurance and other forms of insurance-based risk transfer, working to make the world more resilient. It anticipates and manages risk – from natural catastrophes to climate change, from ageing populations to cyber crime.
Swiss Re can help Malaysians narrow their protection gap by using our research and insights on consumer needs and preferences to develop customer-centric propositions, thereby enhancing customer experience and improving the uptake of insurance protection.