This article has been written originally in Farsi by Haleh Chitsazan (a Digital Executive Consultant)
Since traditional insurance companies earn credit by the number of their branches and agents across the country, some of them resisted cooperation with fast-growing Iranian InsurTech startups who need no brick and mortar workplace. However, some of those firms have finally accepted the reality of insurance sector developments and its coming changes. They have now added online insurance policies issuance to their previous sale channels via aggregator apps. Moreover, a company or two (like Saman and Mellat Insurances) are currently developing their online presence in Iran insurance sector with more pace.
Iranian InsurTech startups have a brief history of only two years in the nation and truth be told they are growing mushroom-like ever since (including Bimito, Bidbarg, BimeBazar, Bimiline, bimeh.com, Bimeh Iran, Bime Saman, Bime Click, Webimeh, Hashtag Bimeh, Bimeh Time, Ham App, Fast Bimeh, Esure, etc.) Most of them are providing simple insurance services like policy comparison, price quotes, online consultancy and finally, online sales. Their persistence and culturalization paid off at last and as of today 20 insurance companies are working with them actively (including Karafarin, Saman, Novin, Tejarat No, Kosar, Arman, Sina, Mihan, Asmari, Mellat, Moalem, Iran, Asia, Parsian, Dana, Razi, Ma, Pasargad, Alborz, Dey).
Most of the Iranian InsurTech companies are running by below groups:
- InsurTech startups (Bimito and Bime Bazar)
- Payment Apps (Ap and 724)
- Insurance firms (Iran and Mellat)
We now converge our focus on the startups’ side by simply comparing 3 lead businesses of this sector.
All three apps are delivering the following services:
- Policy comparison
Users can search for any insurance policy (Travel, Third Party, Life, etc.) and based on their desired parameters (price quotes, insurance firm competency, number of compensation agents, the satisfaction level of compensation, complaint response time and maximum coverage) choose the best-fitted policy.
For a given search of vehicle third-party policy, Bimiline will request the insurance term and the compensation cover cap in addition to basic vehicle information (Model, Production date, claim records) while the other two apps make those as a filter option. Therefore, if a user desires to alter the input parameters in Bimiline, a go back to the previous stage is necessary while the other two rivals have a better UX design in this regard. Also, Bimiline is falling short in showing the details of each policy quotes whereas BimeBazar, for example, demonstrates factors like user ratings and complaints response time which will affect the users’ choice.
The top progress bar in Bimito application is more friendly for customers who have no acquaintance with the process since it shows the current step the user is in. These apps have added “Buy now pay later” option and it is available on the Bimiline app, however, there is no feature to sort the listed by the desired metric. This list is not pre-sorted based on the lowest price, highest user satisfaction rate, lowest complaints or highest insurance firm competency. Let us assume it shows the policies with a pay by instalments plan first, now a question will raise that how much users whom purchase vehicle third-party policies do care for a by now pay later feature rather than lower prices. If the users’ count of these apps is the same since Iran Insurance (the first suggested policy in Bimiline app) is not listed on the other two, then presumably this insurance firm has more income from Bimiline (like the first-page appearance of Google’s SERP). This simple example shows that while insurance firms are expecting for their most interesting advantages to pop up first, yet it is the mobile apps’ product managers duty to know the effect of each UX small changes and its results. Will this design lead to lower expenses for the end users or increase the share of aggregator from received commission? It leads to an easier user experience or makes the app more unique in comparison to rivals?
- Online policy purchase:
After users make a policy choice, they have to fill out the additional info which is far more convenient than filling the traditional paper forms of insurance agents. There are some minor differences in the ways that these apps allow users to fill the blanks but Bimito and BimeBazar are asking for a full registration while Bimiline just asks for the mobile number at this stage. Next, users shall upload images of their vehicle license and registration along with the previous policy, policy recipient address and delivery time in order to make the registration complete.
- Free delivery of the insurance policy
Users can set a date and time of convenience to receive the issued insurance policy.
- Policy extension reminder, list of transactions, friends and family referrals, orders list, policies management, etc.
Up to this point, all of the common features of Iranian InsurTech startups have been analyzed and it is now the time to consider what makes each unique. In addition to some differentiation in user experience, the below items are what varies in these 3 applications:
- Calculation of policy coupons value in Bimito: With this feature, after a car accident, users can estimate whether it is better to use insurance coupon or pay accident compensation themselves;
- Monetization of friends and family referral (bonus) points in BimeBazar
- E-Wallet in Bimito and Bimiline
In general, business KPIs which are used to compare insurtechs are wide and this article will only cover the metrics that these applications provide within their business scope:
- Apps feature list (comparison, purchases, consultancy, monthly instalments, etc.)
- The comprehensiveness of insurance policies:
- Vehicle (body repair, third party, motorcycle)
- Fire and earthquake
- Health and supplementary
(as of today, users can only purchase vehicle insurance via the BimeBazar app (version: 1.0.1) but they can purchase the other policies through the website).
- The diversity of services and products (for instance, issuance of supplementary health insurance policies were only allowed in groups before these apps. Now Bimiline announced that for the first time users can purchase such policy via its mobile app. Moreover, the extension of social security insurance is now available on Bimito app. It is anticipated that the internet cab drivers’ insurance which is designed in international insurance markets will soon be available for Iranian urban internet transportation firms like Snapp and Tap30).
- Unique user experience (samples of user experience were considered previously and it has important KPIs like more convenience, optimized stages, conforms to users habits, no need for extra comments on each stage, creativity, integration, etc.)
- How fast will the policy be issued? (BimeBazar will do it in less than 24 hours)
- Online consultancy (BimeBazar has the service for life insurance and Bimito supports their users via its telegram channel – a social messaging app)
- Free delivery of insurance policies
- Deliver updated policy information
What about the global InsurTech services?
Despite the extremely similar services provided by Iranian InsurTech apps, their international analogues in developed nations have diverse business models. For example, a common feature offers in the international insurance industry is the differentiation of careful vs careless divers insurance policy’s quotes which have applied in no Iranian InsurTech app. In this vein, the introduction of some global insurance trends can reduce our short sidedness and give us ideas to bring Iran Insurance sector to play in the world-class league. But first, a thorough gap analysis can be helpful:
- One of the insurtechs business models around the globe is creating platforms that help agents and brokers increasing their sales by simplifying the policy application forms and utilizing renewal processes. Localizing these platforms, especially in the current situation which traditional sale agents are strongly against insurtechs, can develop the culture of using technology for adding value to customers.
- Global insurtechs are concentrating on features that help loyal customers have the best possible experience upon an undesirable accident that focuses on service time, service price, lower fraud, higher precision and online on-demand consultancy in difficult times.
- The third trend is insurance chatbots that work like digital personal assistants acquiring and analyzing the information via a Q&A process. After proper consideration of clients’ needs the best-suited policy will be introduced and upon the customers’ choice, the policy will be issued digitally.
Of course, there are many successful business models based on analyzing the big data as well which are not the subject of this discussion.
Why are Iranian InsurTech Startups limited in services?
There are countless reasons why Iranian Insurance startup could not make it to the top like their global rivals:
- Low investments in InsurTech sector;
- The impossibility of turning to a full-scale insurance firm for Startups without the presence of a traditional insurance company in the middle;
- Lack of proper infrastructures;
- The semi-dominant presence of agents and brokers in flesh and blood who will be left behind by the development of insurtechs;
- Low insurance culture in Iran and people’s negative mindset.
- Lower than standard insurance penetration rate, especially life term policies.
- Pricing of insurance policies based on the cost and not the added value.
- Protest of insurance agents regarding unconventional discounts by startups.
- The lack of a centralized syndicate for insurance startups.
- And ….
All in all, considering all the stones in their way, Iranian InsurTech Startups had a good start and the future is full of possibilities and potentials for them. It shall be noted that in order to maintain market share and perform a sustainable growth, they need to pay extra attention to globally standard KPIs and reaching their designated goals. Insurance players, before the rise of insurtechs, had their eyes on KPIs like Revenue per policyholder, Average cost per claim and Return on surplus. However, now they shall have metrics like Customer retention and customer Experience Rating on surveillance as well. Analysis of big data, which is an integral part of insurtechs, will be the golden point if they want to have the upper hand in play.