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Mind the gap



“We must remember that while technology offers us the opportunity to make great ideas scalable, it’s no longer a differentiator in and of itself.”

There’s been a slew of online articles recently about the rise of various generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools like Chat GPT and how they’re going to change the world irrevocably – for both consumers and businesses.

But while AI certainly has the potential to revolutionise entire industries – including the insurance world – I would caution against an over-reliance on AI without careful consideration of the role you want it to play. In terms of where the technology is now, AI is far less impactful if it’s not backed up by human intelligence. And it quickly becomes irrelevant and even gimmicky if it doesn’t solve human problems and improve clients’ everyday lives.

AI and the insurance industry

Elevate’s founders are actuaries and experts in data and technology, with a specific focus on health and wellness in South Africa’s private sector. Because of this, we were in the unique position to notice that fully underwritten life insurance was ripe for disruption, as the offerings and efficiency of servicing clients hadn’t changed for decades. So much rich behavioural data about clients exists, but the ability to use that data and turn it into information, and then into knowledge, hadn’t yet been fully harnessed.

At Elevate, we believe that when it comes to creating insurance solutions, technology is a means to an end − rather than the end. We feel that it’s vital to marry digital intelligence and human connection in order to enhance engagement. Technology, after all, can improve so many aspects of how insurance has typically been done. Take, for example, our market-leading underwriting process, in which we use AI and a deep knowledge of our clients’ healthcare data to provide fully underwritten rates for our full risk cover suite of products, in as little as 15 minutes.

When it comes to administration and client servicing, AI can be used to define triggers and information for financial advisors and their clients, so that benefits and cover are updated at the right time and gaps in cover are minimised. This not only increases efficiency and protection for clients, but also decreases the hassle and cost to brokers and improves their control over the client experience. These efficiencies result in lower costs, which are passed onto customers, giving them sustainably lower premiums and richer cover – providing greater value for all. Ultimately, the whole insurance value proposition is enhanced.

A different type of rewards programme

With our understanding and access to third-party healthcare data, we were hugely excited by the prospect of building financial services products that gave customers the opportunity to engage and control all their wellness data in one place, so they could benefit from a deeper understanding of this data. Beyond that, what if this knowledge gave them the motivation to improve their well-being, leading them to pay less for their life insurance over time? This idea really got us excited.

When thinking of how to position the offering, we saw that most of the rewards programmes in the market were partner-based (for example, with gyms, health stores or supermarket chains) and driven by static, impersonal targets, rather than being oriented around the individual. We wanted to focus on the product of life insurance as a really powerful vehicle for driving improved well-being and shared incentives between ourselves and our clients.

At Elevate we give our clients monthly cashbacks of up to 35% of their premiums, across all their life policies. Each month, they receive a personalised set of evidence-based wellness goals that are based on the health and wellness data that they choose to share with us. These goals are highly achievable and designed to help each client improve and maintain their positive wellness habits each month. Achieving goals determines each client’s reward percentage, which can be redeemed at the end of the month as cash. The more they engage with us, the greater the reward for them.

All they need to do is login to their Elevate Wellness Portal and consent to sharing their wellness data with us on an ongoing basis. Crucially, they can opt out of sharing a particular data source at any time.

Technology where it makes sense

Throughout this journey, we’ve never forgotten that we are servicing people, not robots. One area we feel technology needs to be used sparingly is in client engagement and customer success management. Why? Because humans connect with humans, whether it’s the end customers or the independent financial advisors who serve them. For this reason, finding the right balance between artificial and human intelligence is critical, if we want to ensure that the overall experience remains as customer-centric as possible.

We must remember that while technology offers us the opportunity to make great ideas scalable, it’s no longer a differentiator in and of itself. In designing an insurance offering that gives true and tangible rewards to our customers, we use AI only as a tool that adds value.

The strength of human connection will never dim. Customer-centric companies that remain aware of this and that use the power of tech to streamline and enhance their customers’ lives will be the ones that have the longest-lasting impact, and continue to succeed. At Elevate, this is what our core focus will be as we move into this brave new world.