Future healthy market will depend on technology

David Eline discussed with Peter Gibbons, Global Head of Individual and Small Group Business for International Health at Allianz Partners how the market can be ready for the future. He outlines how the underwriting group is set to use technology to redefine the way it does business and interacts with agency partners.

After a career which has seen him build a sizeable health insurance operation from scratch, Peter Gibbons was tasked with creating scale in Allianz Partners’ fledgling individual and small group international health insurance team in Dublin.

Two and a half years into the role he believes that they are now in a position to make a fundamental difference to the IPMI sector. This ability will be predicated on the implementation of next generation technology. That technology will redefine how business is transacted.

Peter explains that Allianz Partners has been working on its key priorities for the future. Those priorities have been built on a belief that the COVID pandemic has advanced the move towards more remote and flexible working.

“We’re working on new processes to automate the underwriting process, which will have far reaching effects for our agency partners,” he explained.

The ability to automate the underwriting system will place greater responsibility on the agents to manage the process and distribute the products. However, they’ll need the technology and tools to do so.

“At present, our key priority will be to continue to respond to the COVID pandemic both internally and externally, looking after our customers and our staff,” he explained. “The full implications of the pandemic on our business, our agents and our clients are still to be determined. COVID-19 clearly has the potential to continue to impact the industry and we need to closely monitor how things develop.”

Away from the fight against the pandemic, Peter says the priority is for the Allianz Partners teams to develop an innovative culture.

“We are always looking to create an improved portfolio of products, remain attractive and relevant to clients,” he adds. “Having a culture that encourages the development of those products is important. As such we’re looking at the creation of enhanced telehealth, wellbeing and mental health facilities, which have not traditionally been core to the IPMI market.”

The plan is to roll out the use of improved telehealth facilities to all core markets in the months to come.

“Given the pandemic, we believe this has the potential to aid in the control of infectious disease, if we see another national, regional or global event in the future,” Peter explained. “Telehealth can act as a back-up to national primary care systems and reduce the pressure on hospitals.”

He says the roll out of a suite of new technology will be an important milestone in the company’s goal to drive efficiency and the delivery of additional services to both agent and client.

“The technology roll-out will be key to the future,” adds Peter. “However, it can’t be achieved in isolation. We need the support of our partners in order to successfully integrate the technology and realise the full benefits it can bring to all parts of the transaction.

“We know that clients are keen to see products delivered using technology and there will also be things the client needs to do. They need to feel that they’re supported in this and that there’s a tangible benefit for them.

“While we’ve been working on the development of systems to enable the greater use of technology and unlock benefits, we can’t forget those in the other parts of the distribution chain who’ll need to integrate the systems we’ve developed.

“We’ve also been working on how we can effectively support the shift to greater remote working and digitalisation. We also need to ensure that our agents are comfortable with the changes this will bring.”