How Bajaj Allianz Put An End to Insurance Claims Forms

by Cameron Stewart

Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company Limited, a joint venture between Allianz (the world’s third-largest financial services company by revenue; $140.3 Bn) and Bajaj Finserv Limited (recently demerged from Bajaj Auto Limited) and was founded in 2001. In 2015, the company stepped back to recognise the pattern in digital change and decided to re-define, re-align and re-structure its business model. The management realised that digital was pivotal to such a change and so by Q4 of 2015 Sourabh Chatterjee had been drafted in as CTO.

Two years on, the team has breached 100 designers, developers, dev ops, strategists, analysts along with a number of key partnerships. After hearing a lot about the seriously-hot innovation going on in Bajaj Allianz we decided it was time to speak to the man in charge. Sourabh Chatterjee, whose full title is President, Head - Technology, Direct Sales and Digital Marketing, kindly squeezed us in while Ubering his way to the office through Mumbai. Despite the call dropping at least six times we got a great insight into the life of a digital leader managing over one hundred techs across three departments.

We’ve heard a lot about your recent blockchain tech, Travel Ezee. It’s making big claims; reducing insurance claim-time from four days to twenty minutes… how is the data holding up four months post-launch?

Sourabh Chatterjee: OK, let’s separate the hype from reality. As an Insurance company we understand that our moment of truth is the time when we have to pay claims. Our Blockchain based product Travel Ezee is an opportunity to make travel purchase and claims process simple, easy and convenient for the Customer. It’s live now and the usage is increasing. The key outcome through the deployment of this technology is the seamless travel claims process, without the customer having to notify the claim to us at the first place.

What was the strategic thinking behind Travel Ezee?

Sourabh Chatterjee: Our aim behind the initiative was to Make the process simple, easy, and convenient for the customers and if the event covered under the Insurance policy happens, the insurer proactively pays the claim to the customer even before they can think of a claim. This was a radical thinking in the insurance space, led by the CEO of Bajaj Allianz GI, Tapan Singhel - obsessed with customer centric technological initiatives.

Hence, with respect to claims payment, as against the traditional ways of settlement, we wanted to break the mould and move away from being reactive to being more proactive. This required radical thinking, a trusted third party and a technology that can bring it all together. This was the genesis behind Travel Ezee helping us along the way to differentiate our product from others.

So why Blockchain?

Sourabh Chatterjee: As I said earlier, we were essentially looking for a technology based solution which helps us to simplify the claims process, clubbing our forward thinking with technology and like-minded vendors on one platform. This required us to put together a solution which is in the form of a smart contract (pre-agreed and signed off between all stakeholders – the customer, insurance company, 3rd party flight aggregator and the payment settlement provider) which is then automatically triggered on the occurrence of the event, without any intervention by any of the parties involved.

The only solution that gave us all that together was Blockchain and the concepts offered by it. Of course, this was an easy and simple application of a technology solution to solve a business problem to benefit our Customers. The fact that it is called Blockchain, is not the critical aspect of it. The critical part is that Blockchain gives us speed! It is customer friendly and takes insurance solutions to the next level!

What does the customer experience look like then?

Sourabh Chatterjee: With the launch of Travel Ezee we have completely changed the customer experience. Any time, even up to minutes before you board the plane you can buy a type of travel insurance that automatically handles claims itself. Think of it this way - if your flight is cancelled, you can be either be stranded in the airport and at least use the claims to buy a coffee or food or be leaving the airport with claim-funds already in your bank account.

For this, we completely reoriented how the Travel Insurance is purchased and how a travel claim is serviced. We worked hard to reduce the steps involved in the process and reduced the same to three simple steps:

  1. Scan your passport and flight ticket via our Mobile App – Insurance Wallet
  2. Select your preferred travel insurance plan
  3. Pay for the selected plan

That’s it. Thereafter, the technology looks after the rest.

So tell us about the automatic claim; how does it work?

Sourabh Chatterjee: We have partnered with a third-party travel aggregator to get real-time data on flight timings for every city and every location in the world. This means that as soon as the customer’s flight data is stored through the scanned flight ticket, our application starts tracking the flight movement. If a delay or cancelation is reported, the claims process is triggered, as per the policy coverage. Immediately an SMS is sent to the customers stating that s/he is entitled to a claim of certain amount since their flight has been delayed. The payment can be made to the same mode by which the policy was bought or the application even asks for customer’s bank details (if they have not provided the same during the travel insurance purchase process).

Greatest challenge that you faced?

Sourabh Chatterjee: Legacy architecture! And how do we build up the Digital layer (which is Agile and Responsive) around the legacy. Even though we don’t have the mainframe legacy we still have the client-server legacy.

Research focus?

Sourabh Chatterjee: AI/Machine Learning and how to implement it to solve real world problems.

Strategy tip?

Sourabh Chatterjee: The right partnerships and collaborations. Start-ups are hungry to deploy their technology and if you get a start-up that fits your need, together you can achieve great results. Ours started with a simple requirement – paperless process and paying of claims (as per the policy coverage) before a Customer registers the claim.

About Bajaj Allianz GIC

While Bajaj Allianz were the first in India to have launched a real world Blockchain based solution for the retail customer, expect to see many more in the coming twelve months. VC backing for Blockchain has doubled since last year to $367 million with many ventures being driven by banks and their innovation labs. Blythe Masters (former senior executive with JPMorgan Chase) is restructuring the Australian Securities Exchange on to a Blockchain system. In the US, DTCC is shifting post-trade clearing of single-name credit default swaps on to a blockchain system. Credit Suisse is one of the nineteen financial institutions that have formed a consortium, working with Synaps to start putting syndicated loans on blockchain systems. Wondering how you can make use of Blockchain? Get in touch and we can help you explore options.

Bajaj Allianz Q2 Figures

Driven by a near four-fold growth in underwriting profit, private sector Bajaj Allianz General Insurance reported 11 per cent growth in net profit at Rs 260 crore for the three months to September. Gross written premium grew 31 per cent to Rs 2,857 crore from Rs 2,179 crore a year ago, while its underwriting profits jumped nearly three times to Rs 138 crore from Rs 57 crore a year ago. The company reported a healthy combined ratio of 88.8 per cent for the reporting period. For the first half ending September 30, its net profit grew 29 per cent to Rs 473 crore from Rs 366 crore a year ago. GWP rose 30 per cent to Rs 4,830 crore from Rs 3,706 crore a year ago, whereas its combined ratio was at 92 per cent. The company’s solvency ratio currently stands at 288 per cent, which is well above the normal regulatory requirement of 150 per cent.

About Sourabh Chatterjee

Sourabh Chatterjee is the President & Head of Technology at Bajaj Allianz General Insurance. He is responsible for delivering technology solutions and support, along with providing digital marketing solutions to the company. He also handles web sales, with a focus on digital strategy and growth through the direct channel.

Some of his fields of expertise include e-commerce, technology innovations, enterprise portals, social media analytics, mobile applications and IT strategy and planning. Sourabh has over 15 years of IT expertise as well as a successful track record in creating business value through innovative use of technology in the life and general insurance space in the US and India.

Prior to joining Bajaj Allianz in 2015, Sourabh worked with ICICI Lombard as Head of E-commerce, productivity and innovation for 4 years and as Head of Applications for a year. He has also worked with Infosys Technologies in the US.

Sourabh pursued his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from INSEAD, France and his Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.) in electrical engineering from Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya, Indore. He did his schooling from Jawaharlal Nehru School, Bhopal.

Cameron Stewart is leading our research into the strategy and lives of the world’s digital leaders. His work has appeared in The Irish Times, The Independent, BBC and TechCrunch. He is heading up our move into APAC. via our office in Sydney.

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