Allianz Malaysia eyes the underinsured amid pandemic challenges

KUALA LUMPUR: Allianz Malaysia Bhd (Allianz Malaysia) says it will need to manoeuvre its business around pandemic challenges to stay resilient and brace for challenges ahead as the insurer expects Covid-19 to continue to be in the backdrop in 2022.

Chief executive officer Sean Wang (pix) said that while business will continue to be very challenging in the months ahead, the company is well equipped to embrace these challenges and will continue to monitor market and customer sentiments to offer appropriate, relevant, and meaningful products to its policyholders.

Commenting on the recent unprecedented floods in the country, Wang said it was necessary for insurers to focus on education and awareness among customers to quell the notion that customers are underserved when the real issue was that customers were underinsured.

“To give you an example, during the height of the floods in December last year, our Allianz Road Rangers received requests from 1,393 customers (as of Dec 29) whose vehicles were affected by the floods but of this number, only 68 had special peril cover. The cover is readily available at a very affordable price of just 0.2% of the vehicle’s agreed/insured value. Yet, many customers still choose not to buy, and this is what we aim to go out there and tell our customers,” he told Bernama.

“It is similar to a product called Allianz KampungKu which we launched in 2014. This is a very affordable insurance plan, at an annual premium of RM75 offering protection for kampung houses or household contents against fire, flood, and windstorm risks. The take-up for this product can be much better,” he said.

Recent media reports said statistics from the Department of Statistics Malaysia showed that the country is estimated to have suffered nearly RM6.5 billion of losses in the recent floods with damages worth between RM1.2billion to RM1.4 billion to homes and between RM1 billion and RM1.3 billion for vehicles. Persatuan Insurans Am Malaysia (PIAM) said the general insurance industry was potentially facing upwards of between RM2 billion and RM3 billion in total flood-related claims.

Customer confidence and spending

“When a pandemic strikes, trends in how people purchase insurance become much more evident, and even with recovery, customer confidence in spending will take time to return,” he continued. “Nevertheless, as more people become fully vaccinated and with anticipated economic recovery and more showrooms open, we hope that car insurance, which is a major component of general insurance, will witness a rise in demand.”

The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) is expecting a rebound in car sales in 2022 with 600,000 auto sales, coming mainly from passenger vehicles. This is an increase of 17.9% from 2021.

Digitalising business practices

Moving forward, Wang said Allianz Malaysia Berhad will also continue to invest in digitalising its business operations as part of its strategy moving into 2022. Amid lingering COVID-19 uncertainties, the company will focus on expanding, among others, its customer engagement capabilities via artificial intelligence (AI).

Allianz Malaysia held a series of virtual training sessions for its agents last year on topics such as the use of social media, digital marketing, and new communication tools to help them develop new customer engagement skills and capabilities. Last year, more than 30 upskilling sessions were held entirely online, with an average attendance of 800 to 1,200 agents per session.

“One of our goals is to transform the company into one that is simple, digital, and scalable, therefore many of our initiatives focus on innovation, adjusting to economic disruptions, and adopting more digital practices,” he said.

The company also launched Vivy, an application that features health content, quizzes, medication plans and health interventions, offering real and holistic support to policyholders, from prevention to recovery.

The enhanced MyAllianz Customer Portal, which contains mobile-friendly user interface and integrated online assistance, gives customers easy access to policy information and documents and enables them to carry out basic policy maintenance.

The insurance brand also has created digital collaborations with more than 40 players in areas such as e-commerce, mobility, finance, retail, and property in recent years.

It supported the NEXEA Multi Corporate Accelerator in 2020 as a way of keeping up with advancements and reaching out to the startup network to explore possible collaborations or partnerships.

“Allianz Malaysia will continue to expand its customer engagement capabilities via Aida, an AI chatbot from simple product enquiries to handle more requests such as vehicle No Claim Discount (NCD) and claims status checks.

“In terms of technology investment, the insurer plans to expand its usage of AI in areas such as cybersecurity, risk management and system monitoring. We will invest more into cybersecurity this year as the adoption of AI internally will improve detection of malware, potential system errors, and suspicious incidents,” he said.

The digitalisation of its business practices came as a result of the pandemic, whereby its insurance agents and business partners, who had previously relied on face-to-face interaction, had been impacted, forcing them to interact digitally.

Environmental, social and governance

For many years, Allianz has incorporated sustainability into its operations and is led by its Group ESG Board, a dedicated body to address ESG issues within Allianz.

Wang said Allianz Malaysia has established a local ESG Board made up of top management personnel to ensure that ESG considerations are integrated into the company's strategy, operations, and core business.

“Climate change and social inclusion are two topics that we are particularly concerned about. Climate change will disproportionately affect underserved communities, with the worst consequences.

“We address this through the greening of our own operations and aligning our insurance and investment decisions with a 1.5-degree transition pathway such as coal phase-out, ESG screening, and photovoltaic (PV) solar panel insurance.

“With regard to social inclusion, we advocate meritocracy and inclusivity as essential values in our workplace. We provide insurance to underserved communities through a variety of solutions, such as our persons with disabilities (PWDs) insurance and Perlindungan Tenang policies,” Wang explained.

Allianz Malaysia drives social inclusion from a community perspective, focusing particularly on enabling the socioeconomic participation and sustainable livelihoods of underserved communities.

In conclusion, Wang said Allianz Malaysia will stay cautiously optimistic and focus on its business objectives and goals to ensure the business remains robust in 2022. -BERNAMA

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