Contingency plans enable SLIC to stay ahead of the curve | Daily News
Increasing demand for technology-based Insurance solutions

Contingency plans enable SLIC to stay ahead of the curve

With the experience of the worst times perhaps in our lifetime, with the coronavirus pandemic Sri Lanka Insurance has successfully managed the situation and has been able to provide the best possible care to its customers, staff, intermediaries, service providers and the public.

“We have seen significant economic impacts on financial markets as well as in vulnerable industries such as manufacturing and service businesses including tourism, hospitality and travel. For the Insurance industry even though it’s too early to ascertain the impact of the current predicament, our industry too will experience its own challenges with the expected economic downturn,” Chief Executive Officer, Sri Lanka Insurance (SLIC), Chandana Aluthgama said in a recent interview with the Daily News.

Contingency

SLIC switched in to contingency mode with key emphasis on crisis management and response for customers’ convenience to stay abreast with Covid-19 pandemic.

“This was due to a timely-implemented contingency plan, workforce and operations. We could navigate our businesses well, despite curfew and lockdown due to coronavirus pandemic as we prepared ourselves for this emergency situation,” Aluthgama. He said a few days before the curfew was announced on March 17, the management took a decision to further improve the existing contingency plan and work through an efficient network. “We did not want to keep the customers in the lurch.”

“So we worked out a plan and helped our staff members to adapt. We got essential staff members to work from home and a few others to report to work in a few areas – we even set up work stations for employees to work from home so that the employees could carry out their work without any hindrance,” he said.

 As a result of this timely decision, the company could provide all insurance based services for the customers including automatic renewal of motor and non-motor individual policies and provided payment options through online and mobile platforms. “We also extended life and health policies to cover COVID-19.” At present the government provides free medical facilities for COVID-19 patients. However, if there’s a need beyond what the government is providing our policies will provide the coverage for the COVID -19.

Online growth

“When the government made insurance sector an essential service we further expanded our work by opening up the branches. When we decided to provide services through a number of branches – we also took all health measures stipulated by the health authorities, to protect both our customers and employees,” he said. Talking about the experiences over the last few weeks, Aluthgama said, the organization went through a new learning curve and this will help us look at matters differently during such defining periods going forward. 

“As days went by, we looked at simple things. Although it was a tough call, we also noticed a lot of positive things were happening. There was a good response for the online payment system-more people got into the system-this is something we may have taken for granted prior to the COVID fear. Obviously the technology worked well with this emergency period.”

When people experience disasters, they also learn to go with it. So the technology came as a useful tool to change the mindset of people at this hour. “Over the last few weeks the demand for technology based insurance services was increasing. It was a positive mindset change of the people.”“As an organization we do not compromise on anything- we looked at every aspect of the pandemic and every stakeholder in our business and everyone was cooperative.”The COVID-19 crisis has shown us the way to shift the way we will need to think in the future. As the curfew and lockdown as safety measures have already created economic hardship for consumers, businesses and communities. In that case how could insurance help? “We are yet to make an assessment on the issues or financial gains and losses of the pandemic and how it will affect the insurance industry. We don’t have any historical data to compare with or to study. The government is providing all facilities and the concessions to people and businesses to live and revive the economy right now.”

Millennials

Explaining on future of the industry he said, such risks and uncertainties will propel people to look at insurance more as a priority and for the industry. It’s the time to reach customers more effectively embracing technology. The way the millennials are looking at the insurance industry is quite positive and I believe there will be more technology driven purchases to brick and mortar sales. “They are optimistic and it is a good sign to increase the penetration. More people will realize the value of insurance in the near future.”

Insurance companies in general play a pivotal role in the economy by helping companies and people to manage economically bad times. Aluthgama says the COVID 19 pandemic has given us a time to realize many important aspects of life-being good to nature is one of the biggest lessons we have learnt over the last few weeks.” It is time we pay more attention to our environment. What have been neglected in the past should be given more attention; our children should be taught to act and preserve. We should come together to drive more projects to build and preserve our environment in the future.”

Meanwhile SLIC also launched a special Viru Abhiman insurance product during this crucial time – which is a Rs. 1.5 million worth free life cover granted to the state sector employees who are in the frontline battling Covid-19 pandemic. It was first handed over to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, Pavithra Wanniarachchi Minister of Healthcare and Indigenous Medical, Defense Secretary Maj, Gen, (Retd)Kamal Gunaratne, Commander of Sri Lanka Army Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva on April 10.

“This is the first and the only cover in Sri Lanka offered free for the state sector employees who are actively involved in Covid 19 and the cover provides financial support at the unfortunate event of employee’s loss of life due to Covid -19 within during the year 2020.The Cover VIRU ABHIMAN is extended to all health care employees in the state sector, Members of the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Police, Civil Defense Force of Sri Lanka, Members of the Divisional Secretariats including field officers, Members of the District Secretariat, and Members of the postal department.

More apps

SLIC also collaborated with ayubolife and launched a service to provide free access to online medical care for Sri Lanka Insurance policy holders. All Sri Lanka Insurance policyholders are eligible to receive COVID-19 Quarantine assistance and medical support services through ayubolife mobile application. Under the COVID-19 relief-based benefits consist of an Initial assessment of each individual by qualified medical practitioners. Further comprehensive health status questionnaires will be updated and daily symptoms check will be conducted in order to review the progress. Further through these services SLIC policyholders now can channel doctors online. Delivery of medicine is also enabled through this service by uploading the prescription through the ayubolife app. Further access to guidelines of fitness instructors to keep everyone active and dieticians for any advice on nutrition are additional services that customers receive through this service. Also as facilitation and support services ayubolife will provide guidelines on cleaning, practical instructions based on government guidelines, working from home, getting groceries, exercising, eating healthy, kids’ education and ideas to get the best out of family time. In order to get access to the ayubolife support services, Sri Lanka Insurance policyholders can download the SLIC app available on Google Play store and Apple App Store and click on its offers.

“Aftermath of Covid 19 pandemic will be a destructive and profound economic challenge different from other natural disasters such as floods and earthquakes. These times will be decisive and far different to what we have been used to, therefore we must be prepared to change for the betterment of our own lives and the business. We must also make every effort to contribute to nature and bring in the humanity in us, this is a lesson we have learned in the recent past,” Aluthgama said.


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