Life insurance has proven a particularly difficult nut to crack for InsurTechs. An inherently complex product with long life cycles and relatively high price points has stymied efforts to distribute life and health insurance online. Additionally, over 90% of China’s life insurance policies are single premium participating products (savings orientated propositions). This has spurred several startups to apply A.I to the ageing product offerings within life insurance.
One of these is Heiniubao, a Beijing based InsurTech, which by combining critical illness insurance with an AI driven investment component, has forged a new and powerful proposition for China’s life/health space.
Working from an anonymous grey building in Beijing, the Heiniubao team sit at tables dotted with PowerAI hardware docks, designed to tie CPUs and Heiniubao’s ‘neural network’ as closely as possible. This neural network is an AI layer that operates in two stages. The first is the training stage, where the Heiniubao team train the neural network to perform a given task, in this case, to optimise the monthly return on investment for users. The second is the execution stage, where people like you and me actually use the Heiniubao platform. This user interaction continuously improves the accuracy of the neural network and expands the factors it considers when optimising the monthly contribution to the participating component of Heiniubao’s products.
Whilst Heiniubao focuses on improving the tech, a close partnership with several insurers allows it to elevate its brand recognition and access to critical illness insurance products that bolster its case against pure investment platforms. Ultimately, Heiniubao is an interesting example of a Chinese startup that is upgrading the user experience in life insurance through an increased emphasis on protection terms and AI raher than pure savings.
Other notable AI developments that involve life/health propositions include Shanghai based Innolife (innolife.cn).
Specifically, Innolife has developed a text based chatbot to communicate with users on WeChat before tailoring health, life and disability insurance policies to their needs. This, combined with the ease and convenience of delivery through WeChat is diminishing the need for agents or bank staff which have historically dominated the distribution of life/health products.
Another interesting use of AI in the health/life space is Beijing’s Data88 (bao.data88.cn). In this instance, rather than engage consumers directly on WeChat, Data88 profiles potential customers on third party platforms and identifies those who are most suitable for specific health insurance policies. The AI component of Data88 is a machine learning layer that monitors the conversion rate of specific products against specific customer profiles, by observing and gradually optimizing the conversion rate across several online channels.
Ultimately, although AI has already entered the pricing, distribution and loss assessment functions of property insurance, the ability to enhance the customer experience and value proposition of life insurance remains elusive. So far, most of the AI efforts within life insurance have focused on chatbots and optimizing distribution, but evolving life insurance from a purely savings orientated proposition to one that delivers preventative healthcare whilst still delivering the core protection and savings component that underpins life insurance is the real opportunity.
To read the latest insurance innovation news and features in Chinese on WeChat visit our page at: