AI Case Study
ZhongAn prices insurance products using AI to reach more customers through large online vendors
ZhongAn sells a variety of niche insurance products complementing the online channels they're offered through - for instance, return shipping insurance for buyers on Alibaba shoppping platforms. Using AI and big data allows for pricing these specific policies and offering the insurance products only online.
"ZhongAn uses artificial intelligence and big data to simplify insurance, price risk more finely and distribute cheaply to a mass market via the internet." "It has several hundred low-cost niche products, from drone insurance to policies that cover cracked mobile phone screens and cost only a few renminbi."
Being able to price niche and complementary insurance products which can be sold on e-commerce sites allows ZhongAn to reach a greater number of customers who would not normally seek out insurance. ZhongAn "sold 5.8bn policies to 460m customers over a three-year period".
However, its "costs are inflated by payments to partners — its cost ratio is almost double that at some other insurers." This concern was borne out recently when its financials revealed the margins on its most popular insurance products are minimal and there are questions as to whether the online model actually lowers costs, driving its share prices down.
From the Financial Times: "ZhongAn’s business model chimes with investors: it sells high volumes of online-only insurance products by partnering with a number of China’s biggest internet groups... The company has sold 5.8bn policies to 460m customers over a three-year period, an almost unfathomable sales record for a traditional insurance group. It said that on a single day in November it sold 100m shipping return policies during an online shopping holiday... The internet companies give ZhongAn access to hundreds of millions of consumers.
For example, its top-selling product, a shipping return policy, is sold directly on Alibaba’s shopping platform Taobao and allows shoppers to insure the cost of returning products to vendors. Ctrip, China’s largest online travel group, has helped ZhongAn market “flight delay” insurance, which allows customers to insure against late flights. Customers can buy “cracked screen” insurance when they buy a phone from the website of Xiaomi, a Chinese phonemaker."