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Co-op Insurance’s distribution director: Consumers want instant, easier access to information

Co-op Insurance’s distribution director: Consumers want instant, easier access to information | Insurance Business

Co-op Insurance’s distribution director: Consumers want instant, easier access to information
Co-op Insurance has been causing ripples in the industry of late, from a car insurance chatbot that gives an estimate in under 30 seconds, to a cashless travel policy revealed last week.

The new travel product offers completely cashless medical expenses for all ages and medical conditions, meaning customers will not have to pay out themselves – a move which the company says is a first for the general insurance market. It also provides customers with access to video and voice call consultations with a General Medical Council registered doctor, before and during trips.

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Insurance Business spoke to Co-op Insurance’s director of distribution and marketing, Charles Offord (pictured), about utilising technology, and the future of travel policies.

From video and voice consultations under the new travel policy, to the chatbot for car insurance announced last year, it seems Co-op Insurance is keen to embrace digital innovation – why is this important to the company? 

Absolutely. We launched the chatbot last year as way of engaging people with our product, having identified Facebook as a potential marketplace. Consumers want instant and easier access to information and AI is one of the ways we’re trying to reach our customers more quickly.

Similarly, by providing our travel insurance customers access to an online doctor, we’re making it easier for customers to seek medical advice at the click of a button, anywhere in the world, making for a more seamless holiday experience.

Consumers are becoming increasingly tech-savvy and developments in communication platforms, such as Facebook messenger, have allowed consumers to have their voice heard in a way we have never seen before. So, it’s important that as an insurer we move with the times and explore new ways of reaching new and existing customers.

Why was a cashless system determined to be an important factor for the new travel policy?

We worked closely with our members at the Co-op to understand what was important to them in terms of travel insurance. One of the key themes which came out of the forums and conversations had, was that members wanted insurers to pay medical fees upfront to avoid the stress of having to fork out themselves. In reality, this means that customers, in the event of having to have medical treatment abroad, wouldn’t have to pay up front for their treatment and then recoup this back from their insurer. This is the reason that we’re proud to have become the first general insurer to offer unlimited cashless medical expenses for all ages and medical conditions.

Are cashless policies the future in travel insurance?

Our research would suggest that the demand for cashless is on the increase. For example, the average travel insurance claim now stands at £2,090 and, of those claims, a quarter relate to medical expenses, which can in some cases reach into the millions.

The research highlights how this affects people, with a quarter borrowing money from friends or family, and one-in-10 sadly getting into debt to cover the cost of a claim.

Receiving medical treatment abroad, whether it’s for a broken leg or insect bite, can be extremely stressful, which is why, in line with what our members asked for, we wanted to remove the added stress of having to fork out thousands of pounds upfront, which we know many people simply don’t have.

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Co-op car insurance chatbot to give an estimate in under 30 seconds