Data-Driven Digital Shift for Insurance
Digitally transformed insurance is key to delivering premium employee experiences in the post-pandemic era, writes Tarek Bayaa.
Since the onset of COVID-19, insurance has taken on a new significance for UAE organisations. In addition to ensuring compliance with local laws, it is now a key factor in delivering world-class employee experiences, as evidenced by a recent Aetna International study in which 76 percent of UAE employees called for more comprehensive coverage in light of the pandemic.
But while employee perception towards the insurance benefits provided by their employers has shifted dramatically over the last 18 months, organisations’ approach to insurance has remained largely unchanged. This is despite 71 percent of HR professionals saying the pandemic has increased employee expectations around health and wellness benefits.
This status quo is particularly concerning given how businesses go about selecting and utilising insurance policies — a process that is currently rife with shortcomings. In a region where relationships take precedence, even in business, it’s no surprise that the selection of the policy — whether delivered by a broker or directly by an insurer — is heavily influenced by word of mouth, and personal recommendations. This approach is a risky and ineffective way to judge such a significant investment that will impact employees’ wellbeing — more so when you consider the 12-month lock-in period of a typical policy.
With over 60 active insurance providers in the UAE, each with 30-40 different plans, there’s plenty to choose from which can be overwhelming for companies. Yet, when relationships and anecdotal evidence, rather than value, take precedence, it often leads to the selection of a policy that’s far from perfect for the specific organisation.
Ironically, the key to determining the most effective policy for an organisation lies within the organisation itself. As the primary beneficiaries of these policies, employees are best positioned to guide this decision. Insight into what inclusions they most value, or how they utilise insurance benefits, employee assistance programmes (EAPs) and more, is the best indicator of what the ideal policy should include. But until recently, businesses in the UAE have simply been unable to uncover this vital information. This lack of data visibility is further complicated by the fact that insurance companies rarely provide claims data to businesses with less than 100 employees and utilisation data is not provided in real-time.
A data driven approach
Faced with these challenges, if UAE businesses are to heed calls from employees for better health benefits and as a consequence, deliver better employee experiences, they need to rethink their approach to insurance.
This starts with embracing change and recognising the value of a digitally driven approach to insurance. While advocates of the digital transformation of insurance management have extolled the benefits of automation, there’s far greater value to be found. Perhaps the greatest benefit of a modern employee benefits platform lies not only in its ability to empower employees to better access information and make decisions, but also to intelligently capture these interactions and translate them into a clear picture of the organisation’s insurance policy utilisation. These insights are invaluable through the policy selection, management, and renewal processes as they guide informed decision making, which can allow organisations to tailor benefits to employee preferences, while potentially delivering cost savings.
Planning based on policy utilisation
In the UAE, dental (28 percent) is the most popular pay and claim request, followed by gynaecology and obstetrics at 20 percent and paediatrics at 19 percent. Companies that understand this precise mix, specific to their organisation, will be well placed to pick plans better suited for their employees. Usually organisations have to rely on their broker or insurance provider to share such utilisation insight, which as previously mentioned, is often an uphill challenge.
This is where an employee benefits platform helps — as employees utilise the platform, it unobtrusively and securely captures details on employee behaviour. For example, such a platform can capture everything from what benefits have the highest claim requests to what benefits employees searched for the most. Insights such as these are critical in helping organisations select insurance plans that are best suited to the needs of their employees.
Insights into policy utilisation are also critical at renewal. As has become abundantly clear over the last 12 months, a lot can happen in a year. The renewal period provides an opportunity to review insurance policies and make improvements. And again, data is key to making informed decisions. If employees rarely use a certain benefit, it can be removed or replaced when it comes to renewal. This provides an opportunity to reduce costs without negatively impacting the employee experience.
A boon to benchmarking
Benchmarking is another key benefit derived from leveraging a digital-native, data-oriented employee benefits platform. Data insights can help businesses decide where they want to be — whether that’s matching their insurance offering to that of their competitors, staying above average, or being best-in-class. For example, based on the data collected on the Bayzat platform, we know that the average spend on health insurance in the UAE for a company that has 101 – 200 employees is AED224,715 or that 65 percent of companies in the UAE insure dependents. Making informed decisions based on data ultimately has a direct impact on attracting and retaining top talent in an increasingly competitive labour market.
The right platform can also make the day-to-day management and administration of the policy as seamless as possible. From an HR perspective, swapping the arduous paper-based
approach for an intuitive digital platform, can greatly reduce the admin burden, freeing up precious time and allowing HR professionals to focus on what matters most — their people.
The digital experience — which can now be delivered right to smartphones via an app — can also empower employees to quickly complete processes themselves and waste less time on unnecessarily time-consuming tasks related to issues such as claims requests. In addition, a digital platform that allows employees to easily access and learn about their policy, arms them with the information they need to minimise the risk of claim rejection. Given that the large majority (54 percent) of claims are rejected due to policy exclusion, this is a must-have rather than a nice-to-have.
With employees now putting a high value on the range of health and wellness benefits offered by their organisation, it’s time for UAE businesses to transform their approach to insurance selection and management by deploying an employee benefits platform that is digital native, technology-driven and provider agnostic and most importantly, allows the organisation to conveniently access real-time data and extract insights on employees’ unique benefits requirements and insurance policy(s) usage.
These insights deliver value through the entire insurance lifecycle, enabling companies to constantly evaluate utilisation, adapt the policy in line with employee expectations and ultimately deliver an employee experience that will set the organisation apart from the competition.