Next level tools for farmers in India
Bajaj Allianz in India has introduced an impressive new tool for farmers in India. It’s just one of many ways the insurer is deploying advanced technology to create new digital solutions for their customers. We spoke with Dipu KV, President of Operations, Communities and CX, to learn more.
What is it about the agriculture industry in India, and farmers especially, that made it such a good opportunity for disruption and this type of app?
The Indian farmer is largely dependent on the income generated from agriculture and various government initiatives. Moreover, the sector faces challenges in the form of resource scarcity and uncertain environmental conditions. With the onset of focus from the government in the form of launches of various financial and risk-based programs for the farming community, aided by the foray of agritech start-ups into specialized services across the value chain, farmers have increasingly started adopting technology, thereby making them more efficient and environmentally sound.
Flagship schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY) have thrived in a big way through their ability to address financial risks – however, timely access to relevant information at the right time and at the right place is imperative. Bajaj Allianz has insured millions of farmers each year by providing risk-based solutions. As a value addition through its set of innovative digital solutions, Bajaj Allianz is poised to connect farmers with the mainstream knowledge pool and ensure that they have relevant information at their fingertips.
We know ecosystems are so crucial to success in 2020 and insurers everywhere are expanding their own range of provided services. What, in your opinion, has been the key to building and sustaining a successful insurance ecosystem for farmers in India?
Providing the right information at the right time and at the right price with continuity is the key to making a proposition successful. The uniqueness of Farmitra lies in its farmer centric approach to solve farmers’ worries by providing them with the key information required with a few clicks at zero cost and in their lingua franca. Users can see personalized information related to farming and at the same time access a plethora of information related to crop insurance. Moreover, through the full-fledged insurance servicing module, farmers can intimate their crop loss to us in just a few minutes. The claim status sub-module enables farmers to check their claim status real-time. Additionally, users can also purchase allied insurance solutions such as motor and health insurance policies offered by Bajaj Allianz. With this initiative, Bajaj Allianz made an industry first move – we were the first ones to launch such an app designed specifically for farmers by empowering them digitally.
What is the next step for Farmitra-Caringly Yours?
Farmitra will be live in another 10 states and is expected to onboard more farmers by end of this financial year. We plan to introduce more insurance servicing features and add more rural insurance products.
Partnerships are so crucial to success in today's insurance market. How do you analyze and select partners?
For us, partners are akin to family. We onboard partners regularly to grow business and expand our reach. We look for synergy with our core values: empathy and care. When we select partners, we do a thorough due diligence and also assess their passion for insurance and ability to persist in terms of solving problems. It goes without saying that partnerships are a sine qua non in today’s market. And, needless to add, we look for partners who use state-of-the-art digital solutions and demonstrate an ability to innovate.
What is another recent project or initiative at Bajaj Allianz General Insurance Company that you are particularly proud of?
Our digital initiatives came to the fore during Covid-19. We were able to move our customers seamlessly to the new normal. 80% of our customers are serviced digitally and our grievances saw a whopping 90% dip! An initiative which won us the global Celent award in April is Digi Swasth, wherein we digitized the end-to-end pre-insurance medical check-up and underwriting process in health insurance. We deployed a range of solutions involving IoT, AI, ML, EDI and our mobile app.
How have you leveraged technology in various ways in insurance?
The insurance space had previously operated in a traditional, manual fashion. By taking the lead on digital transformation and launching several digital industry first initiatives, we have gained an edge; we have brought about many fundamental changes in various areas such as product management, underwriting, claims, distribution, customer service, fraud detection, predictive analytics, and risk management. For example, during the pandemic, we launched two products using social media! On the customer service front, 80% of our customers get serviced through our digital channels. On the voice front, we were the first ones to integrate with Alexa and Google Assist when they were launched in India. On the claims front, we settle many motor claims in 30 minutes using photogrammetry. Apart from automating the functions in the office, we have also introduced a series of customer facing digital assets such as our mobile app, WhatsApp, an AI-driven bot et al.
How is Bajaj Allianz utilizing various technologies such as AI, ML, and Blockchain?
We have been pioneers here. AI and ML have facilitated the analysis of customer-related data and, as a result, helped us in terms of better risk profiling and precision in premium calculations. Our AI-based voice assist works efficiently not only on chat but also on voice search mediums such as Alexa and Google Assist. Our BOING 2.0 chat and voice chat help our customers 24/7.
On the blockchain front, we picked a use case with customer friction wherein a trip delay claim for travel insurance gets initiated proactively to customers without even requiring him/her to notify us of the claim! When a customer is hassled and is busy rebooking his flight, making alternate plans etc., the last thing on his mind is claim notification, paperwork, requests to the airlines for documentation of flight delay for submission to the insurer, etc. We did away with all of these!
We also leveraged IoT (internet of things) to make a difference to our customers. Apart from the standard telematics product, we launched a feature called geofencing wherein you get an alert if the car goes off the regular path!
Nowadays usage of drones has been increasing in the insurance sector. How do you see same for Bajaj Allianz?
Drones and IoT devices are useful in gathering required geographical data using sensors, pictures, etc. and transmitting such information in real-time. Agriculture insurance in India is a use case for digitization to resolve old problems of assessing risks and claim settlement. Further utilization in the farming sector at regional/local levels includes assessing “land and crop” health and modernizing crop assessment, damage extent, type and damage severity, issuing forewarning for risk mitigation, and settlement of compensation under crop insurance schemes.
Crop health and land health play a crucial role in assessing the damage whereas the vicinity usually does not get assessed in manual supervision. With drones the vicinity is also assessed for any possible flood situations that may result in losses.
The soil sensors give details of the soil quality and the estimate of the yield. The water content and water resources are assessed to understand the average availability of water throughout the year. It also helps us keep farmers informed about excessive water resources or shortage of water and so on.
The quality of yield can also be estimated by drones by capturing the images of fruits as an example and subsequently calculating future revenue.
Any concluding thoughts?
Touchless UI/UX, given Covid-19, is a key focus area. Also, meeting new customer needs, which didn’t exist hitherto, is important. For instance, while most players focused on a “copy paste” approach from the physical world to the digital world during the WFH era, we also focused on meeting latent customer needs by proactively launching an array of features – such as contact tracing (via a feature called Social Trackback), doctor on chat (for digital consultation when physical visits were not possible) and a Covid-19 self-assessment tool – all on our app.