In line with the National e-Governance Plan, the National Insurance Company has taken a number of steps to establish a strong e-governance framework to
formulate policies and set up infrastructure to create citizen-centric mechanism, writes Deepak Sinha
The Government of India initiated a National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) with the intention of laying down the foundation for a strong e-governance framework for the country. Public sector insurance companies have been identified as one of the key segments for the e-governance plan.
As a leading public sector insurer, National Insurance Company (NIC) initiated a project to understand the preparedness of the organisation for establishing a strong e-governance framework and to set the direction for this initiative.
In the initial phase of the assessment, industry best practices and initiatives of other leading general insurers were compiled to provide the benchmark for NIC. Based on industry best practices and competitor analysis, a desired end-state was created.
NIC has taken several important steps in the direction of the desired objective, like online customer portal, e-payments and video conferencing. There exists a conducive atmosphere within the organisation, which would have a positive influence on e-governance initiatives. The clarity in thought of the senior leadership, running partnerships with technology vendors and an identified domain specific software are a few factors which contribute to the positive atmosphere. Some of the areas which require attention include, building skills for managing large programmes, establishing a metric-driven organisation and articulating the enterprise architecture.
NeGP / MMP
The basic objective of NeGP is to digitise the records for ease of access and to bring services ‘closer to home’ for citizens. The vision of NeGP is articulated as:
“Make all government services accessible to the common man in the locality through common service delivery outlets, and ensure efficiency, transparency, and reliability of such services at affordable costs to realise the basic needs of the common man.”
The importance of public sector insurance providers is expected to remain high, especially in enhancing the rural and under-explored market segments. Hence, insurance is one of the core projects under Mission Mode Projects
The plan envisages setting up of the policies and infrastructure to create a citizen-centric governance mechanism. NeGP consists of 31 Mission Mode Projects (MMP) which include Central, State and integrated projects.
National Insurance Company MMP
The relevance of insurance in the socio-economic environment of India is significantly growing. A very large part of the population is still unprotected against various risks that they are exposed to. The insurance industry was opened up more than a decade back. Presently, the public sector insurers still provide services to majority of the citizens. The importance of public sector insurance providers is expected to remain high, especially in enhancing the rural and under-explored market segments. Hence, insurance is one of the core projects under Mission Mode Projects. The mission of insurance MMP has been defined as:
“Development of an Integrated Information Technology solution for better service delivery mechanism of Public Sector Insurance Companies.”
The e-governance future state model for NIC has been drawn up, keeping in mind the overall framework of NeGP, mission of MMP initiatives and the business priorities of NIC.
The short and long-term objectives kept in mind while creating the future state model are:
Long Term Objectives
Creating a customer-centric organisation. Being in a service industry, NIC should have an environment that has customer as the centre of the business universe. Historically, insurance industry in India had a policy-centric approach, where policy was considered the key element of the business;
Creating an environment that would have less or no paper-based transactions. Records would be digitised and processes would be driven through the system;
Ensuring that customers and partners have unhindered access to key information at all times, without dependence on offices and personnel;• Ensuring that customers and partners have unhindered access to key information at all times, without dependence on offices and personnel;
Creating an environment to run efficient internal processes that would ensure that the best service would be rendered to customers and partners. The changes and initiatives would also help run the organisation in a more cost-efficient way;
Having a reliable, complete and easily retrievable customer and transaction information base;
Supporting the creation of a robust and sustainable governance process and infrastructure; and,
Ensuring that business benefit for NIC is achievable while implementing the e-governance framework.
Short Term Objectives
Ensuring that current customer demands, related to quick and efficient access and services, are satisfied;
Providing services that are at par with the other public sector and private players in the market; and,
Enhancing efficiency and productivity of the organisation in the short term.
E-Governance In The Context Of Nic
NIC has been taken several pioneering steps in providing general insurance services. Starting of mobile offices, online policy issuance facility and swipe card facility are a few of these. The key priorities for NIC in the current business scenario are:
Since October 2011, all staff payments have been made through electronic account transfer mode. Instructions have been given that all payments to vendors from Head Office (HO) / Regional Offices (RO) have to be made only through National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) / Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) and rigorously followed. All vendor payments are also being done through NEFT.
Video Conferencing Facilities
Full HD video conferencing facility is available at HO and all the ROs. Apart from that, video streaming service is made available through IBM Lotus simultaneously to all regional /operating offices. There is integration between its full suite of voice and video conferencing with mail. It has screen-sharing capability for collaboration and can record chat or video for future reference with HD capability.
The company has a web-based portal developed on Genisys Application, which enables online transactions for partners such as motor dealers, travel agents, etc. It also enables online sale of products for access by one-man offices or business centres.
The company is providing IT-enabled customer services to facilitate purchase of new and renewal policies under selective line of business, with effect from May 2012.
The following products are available: Motor (Private Car & Two wheeler) Policy – New and Renewal; National Insurance Mediclaim – New and Renewal; Personal Accident Policy – New and Renewal; Overseas Mediclaim – New; Householder Policy – New; National Insurance Mediclaim (Family); Fire SFAP; and, Three micro-insurance products The main characteristics of the portal are that customers can buy policy online using simple steps, like using a toll free number and live chat facility to assist the customers of online portal. The payment is made through net-banking, debit/credit cards and is digitally signed.
Further, the policy is generated by the customer on the spot and is also sent to him/her by email. An SMS is also sent to customers as acknowledgement of premium and issuance of policy, keeping them in loop about the activity happening in their accounts.
The new policy premium is directly credited to the office of choice by customers since the payment gateway is integrated with the system. The renewal premium directly goes to the original office and for this the credit is given to the servicing development officer or agent.
All policies are automatically Section 64VB compliance. Moreover, digitally signed money receipts are also issued by the online system, which in turn can be printed by customers.
The company has initiated various activities on mobile governance, which are in consonance with the GOI initiative under NeGP. The brief outlines of the projects initiated are:
Unified Communication Project
Currently, a disparate network of telephone connections, landlines in office/residences – 4,377 in numbers – and mobiles – numbering 1,444 – are in use in NIC. Sourced from different telecom service providers, the existing telephones (both mobile and landlines) are in use in isolation, i.e. they are not the part of a single seamless network.
Further, though NIC has rolled out its leased line network – the Wide Area Network (WAN) – in 2002-2003, and achieved huge benefits of data connectivity, data transfer and voice-over IP phone, the requirement of communication with a mobile work-force has truly not been met.
NIC has initiated a move to build up an unified network of telephone connections, wherein mobile phones, office landlines, residential landlines, IP phones and fax machines would work in a cohesive manner
NIC has, therefore, initiated a move to build up an unified network of telephone connections, wherein mobile phones, office landlines, residential landlines, IP phones and fax machines work in a cohesive manner – overcoming the challenges of diverse technologies working in the background – to present our users with a seamless, 24×7 availability.
Benefits of Unified Communication Are:
a) Convergence, interoperability and seamless connectivity between IP phones, mobile phones, office landlines and residential landlines;
b) Fixed budget on telephony for project period (3-5 year);
c) Unlimited National Closed User Group (CUG) within rental;
d) Unlimited talk-time and SMS, MMS, other than CUG, within rental mobile phones and landlines;
e) Unlimited data access to mobile phones and residential landlines within rental; and,
f) Replacement of the mobile phones with smart phones has been planned.
It would provide the following benefits: Equipping users with smart phones would provide the opportunity of rollout of corporate mailing/messaging system to users; and, starting up with an immediate rollout of email to smart phones, the unified communications would also possess the capability to host and push mobile applications, developed as per NIC’s business requirements, to users equipped with smart phones working in the field.
Indicative upcoming mobile applications on smart phones are: Selling the ‘Off-the-shelf’ insurance policies, with field personnel entering data at customer place in smart phones and generating receipts with a combination of smart phones and portable thermal printers; the capturing of photos of loss (vehicles or others), initially by in-house loss assessors for instant upload, will also result in faster claims processing. The same can be extended to external surveyors gradually; and, instant access to strategic business intelligence and graphical reports for NIC’s corporate management, generated from core insurance BI tools whilst on the move, to aid in faster decision-making.
SMS Gateway Project
NIC is in advanced stages of discussion with telecom service providers on the modalities of using SMS, initially for alerts on insurance renewals for existing customers, and later, to increase market share by the following methods: Promotional offers and special offers; cross-selling insurance products to existing customers; sending greetings (birthdays, festivals) for customer relationship; generation of leads for follow up; customer profile updates; payment of premium through mobile devices – payment gateway tie-up with bank has already happened; intimating claim settlement status to customers; and, as a medium of corporate communication to employees, agents, surveyors.
Insurance on Wheels (IOW)
The industry’s First of its kind initiative was launched on June 2012 by the NIC for providing delivery at the door-step and access to general insurance products and services. For this purpose, a mobile van equipped with laptop, printer and POS (card swiping machine) has been provided for instant issuance of web-based policies. At present, four IOWs are functioning in Kolkata, Chandigarh, Bangalore and Mumbai, and 15 more are being commissioned by January 2014-end.
The company has a lot of firsts to its credit. These include, implementing a robust corporate email solution, which is the first amongst PSU general insurers in 2003; implementing point-to-point leased line connections for wide area connectivity, which is the first amongst PSU general insurers in 2003. It was also used for establishing connectivity for email and web-centric MIS and business solutions; designing an Information Security Policy and implementing a cutting-edge Information Security Project in 2005, which is still a case study for other PSU general insurers; implementing the first MPLS-VPN network spanning all WAN locations in the country in 2006. MPLS-VPN reduces network downtime as against traditional point-to-point leased line connections; implementing the first Network Admission Solution (NAC) in the country in 2007 to prevent rogue systems and/or systems that are non-compliant to connect to NIC’s network and cause data theft and/or propagate malware/virus; and, designing the Unified Communication Solution for voice, data convergence across all NIC mobiles, PSTN connections and planning for implementation, which is a first amongst PSU general insurers in 2012.
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