Insurance innovation: fostering a revolution with China Life Insurance Company 26 January 2022 135

Xinyu Zhang, Deputy General Manager of Underwriting and Claims settlement department at China Life Insurance Company, discusses the company’s comprehensive approach the innovation process.  

What makes your company truly innovative?

China Life Insurance Company Limited has won many prestigious awards, such as Asian Most Admired Corporate by Institutional Investor, Asian Best Life Insurance Company in Asian Finance Conference for 21st Century, etc. Innovation has been our most important driving force for development, with technological innovation one of the major engines. We reinforce technological innovation by utilizing four technological innovative labs, which are separately insurtech, cloud computing, and infrastructure, cybersecurity, and blockchain. 

We deepened the study of nearly 50 advanced technical projects and confirmed 32 important innovative programs, deepening the strategy of innovation-driven development. Lots of data-intensive capabilities, such as cloud computing, blockchain, internet of things, big data, AI and mobile applications, have been established. Our core purpose is to deepen the integration of technology with the life insurance value chain. We are dedicated to becoming the most global leading innovator.   

What are the major goals and results obtained from your ongoing innovation strategy?

To be innovation driven, technology empowered and internationally excellent. Our innovation strategy is centered around cooperation, social, and sustainability. 

• Company benefits: Biological scenario-based service, recommended 430 million times, provides both online and offline service to customers. To reduce infective risk of Covid-19, the China Life Vision system, embedded with identity authentication, face recognition and aerial signature, has been promoted rapidly and completed 230,000 video-visits. Our 24/7 hybrid cloud system, which is awarded by DCD, supports the launch of a large quantity of Covid-19 insurance products. 

• Social benefits: High-quality medical data, obtained once poverty customers finished treatment, enables proactive claims initiated by customers. Our poverty-alleviation claim with small compensation is taught at Harvard Business School as pioneering innovation in the Chinese insurance industry. 

• Sustainable development benefits: We established a digital office and promote multi-channel paperless service. In 2020, the rate of individual long-term paperless insurance application reached 99.9%, saving nearly 365.6 tons of paper. The number of online insurance policies has reached over 100 million, saving nearly 800 tons of paper. In addition, we actively promote green financial projects, and invest in energy conservation and clean energy.   

How is a culture of innovation achieved across your company?

The insurance market of China is huge, complex, and diverse. To meet market demand, China Life emphasizes innovation as an important concept and serving clients as the driving force, constructing an innovative culture of respecting talent, admiring innovation, and tolerating failure. 10 million cases used to be adjusted manually, which led to relatively lower efficiency of medical insurance claims. Facing the risk of customer loss, we built a claims model through technological innovation, realizing claim automation. The efficiency of small claims is just 0.14 days with a 30% improvement year-on-year. We hold innovative contests to motivate innovation. Outstanding employees get opportunities to promote their projects and lead innovative teams. Innovative teams continue to grow. In addition, we hold exclusive activities for female employees, which enable them to make greater contributions. 

How does your company manage the overall innovation process?

China Life manages an innovation process according to top-level design and linkage of different departments. An innovation system has been built around a development strategy and a specifically dedicated department. We establish an innovation implementation plan and collect innovation intentions, which center on corporate priority work. Moreover, we establish projects to implement with comprehensive participation from professional departments. 

Our technology innovation incubation center is built to formulate a closed-loop management process of research and cultivation; evaluation and incentive; promotion and application. We establish and continuously improve the incentive and guarantee mechanism. Through innovation revenue sharing, we promote the continuous emergence of innovation achievements. From idea formation to implementation takes only 10 months, during which the claims program has served more than 2.5 million impoverished customers. In addition, we make specialized plans for innovation support and incentives, providing dedicated expense support to outstanding innovation projects.  

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