Insurance companies need to go digital. Source: Facebook/FWD HK+Macau

Insurance companies need to go digital. Source: Facebook/FWD HK+Macau

FWD proves that insurance companies don’t have to be digital laggards

INSURANCE companies often complain about their legacy infrastructure keeping them from digitally transforming and delighting customers.

However, some insurers in Asia and around the world seem to have figured out how to break the shackles of fragmented systems and archaic networks and incorporate technology into their DNA.

One such insurance company in Asia is the FWD Group. They’ve been innovating rapidly and supporting customers more intelligently in the digital age — and the market seems to be responding quite positively.

To better understand what the insurer is doing, Tech Wire Asia caught up with FWD Group Group Chief Digital Officer (Group CDO) Ryan Jonghoon Kim.

“There are always obstacles in driving innovation – from gaining consensus among departments and stakeholders through to the length of time it takes to actually see changes take effect.”

However, in order to mitigate some of these challenges, FWD implemented a co-innovation program — something that represents a fundamental shift in its approach, goals, and relationships.

“For example, we’re applying human-centered design principles to all aspects of our digital transformation. This is an important part of our methodology as it’s imperative we visualize our customers, not through numbers and spreadsheets, but in a very real, tangible sense.”

According to Kim, the approach also underpins the design of its customer experience initiatives and follows the 360-degree methodology.

There’s more than lip-service involved in going digital

Much of FWD’s success seems to boil down to the fact that the company is willing to put its money where its mouth is.

“We invest more than 60 percent of our IT budget in developing technology. Some of our initiatives include using artificial intelligence (AI) to guide customers through purchases, to predict fraudulent claims, and even to recognize and reward good driving.

“We’ve also partnered with digital experts to use world-leading platforms that already exist. In Singapore, for example, we harness WhatsApp to make medical claims quicker and simpler.

Speaking to Kim about the work that the company is doing in order to not only go digital but also to champion innovation, revealed two of the insurer’s recent projects that the Group CDO is most proud of — The FWD Flyer mobile app and the newly-built automated underwriting capability.

“We noticed that many customers needed to visit a doctor within 48 hours of coming home from a trip. They would have to pay up front for the consultation, then make a claim and wait to be reimbursed. So we built FWD Flyer to change all that.”

FWD Flyer is an iOS and Android app that allows customers to book appointments at home or abroad. Geo-mapping tools find the nearest participating clinic. Customers can use the app to pay for consultations and treatment, using a cashless e-card. There’s no need to pay up front or wait to be reimbursed.

While the FWD Flyer app is for existing customers, the automated underwriting capability is designed to delight prospective customers.

“This technology enables our customers to get a quote for their car insurance in less than one minute. All they need to do is input the make and model of their car and answer ten short questions – the fewest in the market.

“In fact in Singapore, all it takes is a few clicks to get an immediate quote for any of our products – from travel insurance to our new Cancer Care.”

Innovation across the board, and a focus on people

While Kim highlights innovations in Singapore, he assures Tech Wire Asia that the digital push extends across the board.

In Vietnam, for example, the insurer announced the launch of FWD Online Medicare, a 100 percent online health protection product that’s sold exclusively on Tiki — the Vietnamese e-commerce giant.

“This product has moved us closer to our vision of making insurance easier to understand, easier to buy, and easier to claim. This isn’t the way insurance usually feels. But we’re not your usual insurance company,” boasts Kim.

Kim definitely earns some bragging rights, especially after picking up the InsurTech Company of the Year and Online Platform Excellence awards recently at the Bloomberg Financial Institution Awards for the company’s efforts in the Hong Kong market.

Ultimately, the victory is something that every employee at FWD should be proud of — it’s their win too, especially with the strong focus on people in the digital transformation process.

“We believe that having a customer-led culture is key. That means making every customer happy in every interaction with us. It means training your people to put your customers first, as well as understanding what they need.

“It means working out whether you could be doing better and designing products and processes that are truly people-centered. And it goes beyond the digital experience.

Kim claims that FWD’s customer-led culture has helped the company rewrite and redesign its policies so they’re easier to understand and has also led it to adopt a globally-recognized customer experience index to find out what customers really think about each aspect of the customer journey.

Overall, it seems as though the FWD Group is in a position to lead by example — and delight customers with products and services that are fit for the digital age that we now live in.