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Prudential Thailand lifts health business to cloud

Partnering with MunichRe, the insurer wants to expand its reach beyond its traditional bancassurance ties.



Pasalaree "Dia" Theerasas, Prudential

Prudential Asia Corporation’s Thailand business is looking to grow into new customer segments by moving its digital capabilities to cloud-based services.

Pasalaree “Dia” Theerasas, chief customer officer in Bangkok, says the insurer has adopted Allfinanz Spark, a cloud-based software-as-a-service offering of Munich Re, one of its reinsurance partners.

“We aim for electronic submissions to go 100 percent paperless, and we’re 80 percent there,” she said, noting Pru piloted Spark last year and went into full deployment this summer. “Spark is helping us conduct medical underwriting in real time.”

Social transformation

This reflects a shift in consumer demand, one sped up by COVID-19. “Consumers want healthcare to be accessible and affordable, and to be able to take care of their health and wealth needs.”

Separately, Prudential has also developed “Pulse by Prudential”, a health and wellbeing app that has been introduced across multiple markets worldwide.

She added: “Thai people spend on average nine hours a day online. They are very receptive to online services.”

Going to point of sale

Alby van Wyk, Singapore-based director and executive vice president at Munich Re Automation Solutions, the reinsurer’s vendor arm, says insurance clients are transitioning from on-prem enterprise to digital services.

Beyond automating an insurer’s process, the vendor helps carriers make decisions at the point of sale for customers, across channels. 

“The underwriting process hasn’t changed in decades,” van Wyk said. “Risk assessment is a complex undertaking.”

What’s new, other than an ongoing push for automation, is the use of products like Allfinanz Spark to penetrate markets previously too small or uneconomic for big insurance companies, notably group life policies for small businesses.

Prudential Thailand, for example, distributes largely through bank partners. It wants to digitalize in order to support agents and reach customers directly, through its own app or via popular social-media apps such as LINE.

And now, after a few years of hesitation, more carriers are moving operational risk to MRAS. “Delivery is easier through cloud for insurance companies that want broad access to new segments.”

Other Asian insurance companies that have recently begun using Spark include Generali Indonesia and FTLife in Hong Kong.

FTLife announced the collaboration earlier in October, saying the service will help it issue policies more quickly, with the goal of eventually allowing real-time counter offers that flow through operations seamlessly. Predictive underwriting is another possibility.

Next: counteroffers

Pru’s Pasalaree says real-time underwriting makes it feasible to expand customer categories and products. Getting information about a customer’s medical conditions and history is a daunting, time-consuming process. Although Prudential will continue to quiz customers from a static questionnaire, it will combine this with Spark’s questions that are based on artificial intelligence.

The combination should yield a clearer risk assessment, and enable consistent views across customers. Spark integrates into the insurer’s electronic points of sale, as well as to eKYC and payment gateways.

She says the next step is to automate counteroffers, which stems from the risk assessment of a customer to determine policy pricing. It can take hours or even a day to get back to an applicant. “This new feature will enable us to propose counteroffers to the applicant at the point of sale,” Pasalaree said.

Prudential is working with MRAS to make this closer to real time across all health-insurance policies.

Shane Edwards, project manager at MRAS in Sydney, says it’s becoming easier to provide cloud-based solutions to insurers in several Southeast Asian markets.

MRAS hosts its cloud on Singapore-based servers, which he says is acceptable to regulators in Thailand and Indonesia provided the firm meets some of their security requirements.

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