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Our digital transformation is not a sprint but a journey… Chief Digital Officer, Heirs Life Assurance, Dare Medunoye

In recent times, evolving technologies have taken the front seat. Not only has this led to disruption across various industries, but it has also continued to pave the way for an era of reduced human intervention. The world is witnessing contactless payments, autonomous driving startups, and digital platforms that leverage technology to help clients manage their wealth and investments.  

The global life insurance industry is embracing this transformation to undertake changes within their operations while mitigating some of the challenges plaguing the sector, and this transformation has been ignited in Nigeria, championed by insurance companies like Heirs Life Assurance (HLA). 

A quick overview: life insurance provides savings and financial security plans to customers. Rather than ordinarily seeking to earn interests by saving money in a bank, a customer can achieve more goals with life insurance which delivers interests on savings and guarantees an additional sum of money to be paid to their family members or chosen beneficiaries if the unfortunate happens. Hence, a win-win for the customer.

“In countries like Nigeria for instance, insurance penetration is very low, and this is due to several reasons such as little understanding of the subject matter, minimal digital experience for the customer and the insurance provider, unimpressive customer experience, disconnection between insurance and lifestyle, and so much more,” Dare Medunoye, Chief Digital Officer, Heirs Life Assurance explains.  

HLA’s retail-focused approach has set it on a course to become one of the leading digital insurance companies in Africa by adopting two unique approaches that attract its large customer base: 

  1. Simplistic and modern technology

In a competitive space like insurance, products can be replicated by competitors; choice of technology OEM and offerings can also be copied, but an optimised and effective service delivery via technology is difficult to recreate. 

Heirs Life launched Nigeria’s first revolutionary and interactive insurance website which ensures that customers have access to quick insurance, completing transactions in minutes wherever they are, without any human intervention. This move officially kicked off the companies’ ambition to digitalise insurance and provide a viable alternative for customers to purchase products and request claims (payout) without delay, as well as learn more about insurance.  

“Our approach is not to release regular touchpoints such as Mobile apps, USSD, etc. Rather, we took a platform approach. The platform allows our systems to integrate and partner with other non-insurance but related services. This model provides us with the agility to be proactive to the market but more importantly, it allows us to fit insurance into the customers lifestyle,” said Medunoye. 

HLA also utilises data and AI strategy in a descriptive, predictive, and prescriptive approach to suit various customers unique needs. Thus, the company builds its processes around systems and not people since data and AI are able to perfect that experience and make it consistent. With more users coming online to make purchases, insurers can access data to adjust their policies and products to meet consumer requirements, contributing to an overall positive customer experience.

  1. Trusted service and a wide distribution network 

At the core of business at Heirs Life is creating products and experiences for customers that add value and make lives better. “As long as our customers and their lifestyles are changing, our platform also needs to have the appropriate agility to change with them,” Mr. Medunoye added. 

While HLA may lay heavy emphasis on technological expertise, the company also focuses on two factors: increasing trust and expanding its reach. Product uptake for life insurance is still abysmally low in Nigeria, due to awareness of how life insurance works and the issue of trust in the sector. HLA has set out to tackle these. 

Responding to the needs of a diverse audience can be quite a challenge. But with a turnaround time of less than 5 minutes per quote, and a response to claims (payout) within 24 hours, the company keeps getting it right. Clients can access fully digital forms – no long queues coupled with customer support philosophies positioned to make the experience worthwhile. Lastly, in terms of accessibility, the presence of omnichannel distribution across physical and digital touchpoints simplifies access to insurance needs. This includes the affordability of products such as the Salary Plus Plan for salary earners, Group Life for employees, and the Heirs Save Plan for anyone with a mid-term savings goal.  

By adopting these vital process changes, HLA has boosted its capabilities for long-term gains. Some other benefits include an increase in sales, productivity, and profits, predictive analysis that would help customers make faster business decisions, and improved claims processes. 

According to the company’s Chief Digital Officer, Nigeria’s regulatory body, National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has been very supportive since embracing digital transformation and the value that it brings. In a bid to revolutionise the industry, it recently unveiled its digital portal that links all the licensed operators across the country. Nonetheless, there is a lot for insurance industry leaders to consider when developing digital enterprise portals built for future needs.  

“Insurance leaders need to unbiasedly redefine internal processes with the help of digital process experts. Technology implementation is only as effective as the process defined in it. They also need to leverage partnerships and experts in adopting the appropriate technology platforms to drive their businesses. The principle is to let technology work for you and not to work for technology,” Mr. Medunoye explains. 

So far, digitalisation can be seen in both the strategy and approach within the insurance industry. There’s no doubt that other providers who adopt early to the digital era will do better than their competitors.  

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