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Looking into insurtech

Technology has become ever present in almost every industry with many companies constantly looking for the next big tech trend they can leverage to help improve their product or service. This is true for the insurance industry which has seen numerous jumps and leaps forward when it comes to the use of technology, so much so that there is a new buzzword on the scene which we are seeing used by insurers: insurtech. Here, Pacific Prime Hong Kong takes a look at insurtech and how insurers in the region are using it.

Define insurtech

Before we look into how technology and insurance are coming together, it would be a good idea to define what exactly insurtech is. As you might have noticed, the tech industry has a bit of a habit of merging words together into new words e.g., blog, modem, and email are all merged words that we use on a daily basis. Insurtech is much the same in that it is a portmanteau of the words insurance and technology.

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It is used by the tech industry and insurers to define any technology designed for, and used almost exclusively by the insurance industry. Many believe that the word came about in response to the now popular fintech which is used by the finance industry to discuss financial related technology and how it is changing the banking/finance industry.

How are international health insurers utilizing insurtech?

In our Top International Private Medical Insurance Trends – 2016 report, published earlier this year, we sat down with insurance veterans from some of the top international health insurance providers to get their take on emerging trends in the insurance industry. Each and every person we talked to mentioned technology and the impact it has had on the industry.

From their collective answers we found that there are three different insurtech avenues insurers are implementing and utilizing:

  • Portals
  • Mobile apps
  • Claims and plan data

Portals

Portals refer to the increasing number of insurers who have implemented web-based portals that allow users to sign in via their browser and view plan details, useful information, documentation, and in some cases submit a claim.

Portals have long been an important part of corporate and group insurance plans, but they are increasingly being offered to individuals as well.

One good example of insurtech at work in portals is some providers allow you to generate a claims form at the click of a button. When you do this, all of your information is automatically added to a form that can then be sent to your doctor to provide the relevant medical information. From there, you can then submit the claim directly to the insurer.

Mobile apps

Statista estimates that approximately 62.9% of the world’s population use mobile phones. Here in Hong Kong, the Office of the Communications Authority reports that the mobile subscriber penetration rate is 230.3%, which means that just over 16.9 million people have a Hong Kong mobile subscription.

Simply put, mobile phones are incredibly popular and it is clear to see why when you look at the apps that run these devices. There is pretty much an app for everything these days and with the sheer number of people using mobile devices, it is now essential that insurers have a mobile app.

In many cases, the mobile app insurers use is simply a mobile version of the web portal, which allows users to access their plan details and information from their phone. Some insurers have started to go a step further and create a fully unique mobile platform. One insurer, for example, allows policyholders to snap a picture of their receipt and submit it along with their claim via the app.  

Claims and plan data

One of the biggest trends across almost all industries is the implementation of big data. Using various technical systems, companies are able to track and analyze an immense amount of data these days. This data, if leveraged properly, allows businesses to make better decisions and create products that better meet customer needs.

When it comes to insurers, many are starting to utilize this to help manage and track claims data. This allows them to better spot fraudulent claims and work to minimize them. Beyond that, it allows insurers to provide policyholders, especially businesses, with better data that can help ensure plans secured are indeed offering the best coverage.

Interesting up and coming uses of insurtech

The three points above look into what many health insurers are doing in terms of adapting insurtech systems, but there are also a number of emerging pieces of tech that Pacific Prime Hong Kong believes will have a large impact on the industry. One of the most prominent is the increased use of sensors that generate data. These sensors, commonly found in wearables, are going to have an increasing impact on insurers.

For example, people who wear fitness trackers or even use a health app can share this data with insurers. This data can then be used to factor into risk predictions, help improve underwriting efficiency, and even encourage people to actively improve their health.

This can also help improve premium management. Insurers who leverage data generated by sensors and wearables will be better able to predict health issues and therefore be better able to manage premium increases.

Another interesting tech advancement that is starting to gain traction in many countries, especially China, is the use of mobile payment systems to pay for and manage health insurance premiums. Combine this with mobile apps and you could see a drastically streamlined and simplified insurance system that many people will actually enjoy using.

One thing to note here is that while insurtech is certainly disruptive, technology adoption still has a long way to go, especially when it comes to health insurance. For example, while some insurers accept digital claims, there are still some out there who will ask you to fax forms of information! Regardless, it will be interesting to see how insurers continue to implement technical solutions and how they impact customer experience.

If you are looking for a tech-forward insurer, Pacific Prime Hong Kong works with all of the top insurers in the industry. Talk with our advisors today to learn how we can help you secure the best health insurance coverage for your needs.

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