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Covid-19 pandemic has been with us for over a year now and it is predicted that it may be here for a long time. It is crucial for the world at large to be able to cope and adjust to the living conditions that have been brought about by the pandemic. In the wake of Covid-19, the business market today has been affected in one way or another. The insurance industry in particular has been impacted uniquely. Insurance policies are fundamentally designed for risk and crisis planning. With Covid-19 impacting both individuals and businesses, policyholders are turning to insurance as a safety net and for financial protection.

Some insurance companies have been able to protect policyholders against financial impacts caused by the pandemic; health insurance, travel insurance, business interruption insurance and life insurance are among some of the insurance policies that may provide relevant protection during this Covid-19 era. However, the insurance industry has faced some challenges brought about by the pandemic. For instance, when Covid-19 struck, thousands of Kenyans lost their jobs. As a result of this, insurance companies had difficulties in collecting premiums therefore, this caused a significant decrease in Gross Written Premium(GWP) 2020 compared to 2019. Insurance being a highly complex business that involves multiple operations, Covid-19 has posed challenges that require insurance businesses to make some adjustments. Some of the processes that are at risk of getting affected include; renewing policies, processing claims, addressing customers’ needs as well as the processes that require interactions between insurers and external workers such as brokers and agents.

Covid-19 also generated new growth opportunities which include;

    • Digital transformations – In order to remain relevant in the market during this Covid-19 era, it is crucial for insurance companies to integrate technology in their operations. This entails digitizing processes such as claims processes, product purchasing and marketing for better and faster delivery. For instance ‘CIC Dawa Mlangoni” is an innovation that has been introduced by CIC Insurance Group whereby the company has partnered with local hospitals to provide medical services quite literally at the doorstep of CIC Insurance Group’s policyholders. The process requires an insured patient to send a photo of the prescription via email or WhatsApp. The prescription is reviewed and after confirmation, the policyholder will receive their prescription within two hours and be able to pay using their member smart card. This innovation is in response to the government directives of reducing face-to-face interactions.

    • Customer centricity – Covid-19 has pushed businesses to focus on customers’ needs and demands in order to gain a competitive edge. This is because Covid-19 has brought about a shift in demand of products especially in health insurance whereby customers now prefer health insurance policies that cover Covid-19 treatment. Some insurance companies have had to revise their services in order to cater to these customers’ needs.

    • Developing new products – The pandemic has exposed some gaps in the market and insurance companies have had to adjust to this. For instance, CIC Seniors Mediplan is a product that was recently launched by CIC Insurance Group to serve the needs of customers aged between 60-80 years. This comes at such a time when statistics show that majority of the people being affected by Covid-19 are the elderly and therefore need insurance covers that are inclusive of Covid-19 treatment.

    • Automation and digital labor – Covid-19 has brought about a reduction in physical human interactions. This has forced insurance companies to automate their business processes such as customer service and claim processes. In addition to this, employees have had to adjust to working from home following the Covid-19 regulations put in place by the government.

To help insurance companies operate in these unusual times, in April 2020, Insurance Regulatory Authority released guidelines on how to handle operations following the disruptions experienced by the insurance sector due to Covid-19. These regulations were put in place so as to have a unified approach in handling operations and claims during these unusual times. Insurers will expect to further focus on sales standards regarding products and services and being more customer centric throughout the insurance value chain.