MUMBAI: HDFC Life Insurance will not do any major revision of term insurance rates, but will tighten medical underwriting to ensure that its experience does not change as it expands business outside cities.
The private insurer is also deploying technology to do professional-level underwriting of even those policies that offer a lower level of protection. HDFC Life’s decision comes at a time when some private insurers have announced a revision in rates effective from April.
This follows reinsurers raising rates on the fear that mortality costs may rise because of the pandemic, and citing low rates in India. HDFC Life MD & CEO Vibha Padalkar told TOI that, while the company did see several claims on account of Covid, it did not have to dip into the reserves set aside at the beginning of the year due to fewer death claims outside Covid.
“Reinsurance rates were revised last year in March-April. At that time, we said that we won’t increase carte blanche, but look at proposals on a risk-calibrated basis. We have already launched our new Click2Protect Life term plan product and we do not see rates being revised. Having said that, if there is a resurgence or the pace of vaccination is not as expected, we will take a call,” said Padalkar.
She added that HDFC Life would continue to engage with reinsurers and see what their concerns are. “They want some additional checks, and we are doing those additional checks and moving ahead as a partnership,” she said.
According to Padalkar, medically underwritten policies will go up, especially as the company expands in interior India.
“The mortality rates may not be the same as people who have access to better healthcare. We need to be sure that there is no adverse selection and pricing is based on probability,” she said. “Although this is at a nascent stage in our country, we are experimenting with building capability to do telemedical through apps. Retina scans can help in identifying diabetes,” said Padalkar.
To ensure that a larger proportion of policies are underwritten, HDFC Life is increasingly using technology. Its ‘selfie for a quote’ application can generate a quote by identifying a proposer’s gender and age from a selfie. For savings products (with a relatively lower protection component), the company uses software that mimics the approach of professional underwriters when they receive a life proposal.
At the customer servicing stage, the company has deployed an Emolyser tool that can tell when a customer is irate and escalate his issue to a senior person.
A Sentilyzer application can read emails to identify ones that need to be immediately looked at. For annuity plans, senior citizens instead of visiting the branch for proof of existence need to only look into an application and blink a few times.
“We also have the capability to do telemedical through apps. Retina scans can help in identifying diabetes,” said Padalkar.