How insurtechs and insurers are helping to fight the pandemic

Image courtesy:Digital Insurance Agenda

It already seems like ages ago that we were able to go out at night. In most countries the bars, restaurants and clubs are closed. In the basements of those places there are tanks that preserve up to 1,000 litres of beer. But when time passes, the quality of that beer declines. So, what do you do with all that beer? It’s probably too much for the proprietors to drink it all themselves during this period of social distancing.

Royal Swinkels, the brewery of Bavaria beer, has come up with an excellent and sustainable plan to give the beer another purpose. The brewery recalls the beer, removes the alcohol and recycles that into disinfecting hand soap. Next, ten thousands litres of hand sanitizing products are distributed amongst hundreds of hospitals, GP offices and nursing homes - for free.

Even though there is a lot of despair in this period of time, it’s beautiful to see these new emerging, creative and especially heart-warming initiatives. There are numerous examples - also in the DIA Community. More and more insurance carriers, insurtechs and other tech companies that are part of the DIA Community are lending their talent and technology to help the world fight the pandemic.

Our analysis shows that each solve very specific problems. The opportunities seem endless.
We defined eight categories in which they provide new added value. Each tapping into real needs, proving the relevancy and social impact of the insurtech and insurance community.

1. Educating what corona is exactly and how to know if you have it
There are a low number of quick assessments for people with COVID-19 symptoms that provide reliable recommendations and next steps. Consequently, medical professionals and health systems are overburdened by too many cases.
Infermedica (Poland) provided a solution that cuts both ways. They developed a screening protocol based on the official guidelines by WHO. It’s free of charge, translated in 20 languages and can be used within minutes. This way, Infermedica hopes to help as many people as they can.

2. Knowing what to do if you’re abroad
Expats and travellers who are in countries abroad have difficulties finding general and country specific COVID-19 information. It can also be quite a challenge to get tested or to find medical help, if necessary. Every country has specific requirements and are not always able to offer assistance in English.
Air Doctor (Israel) created a comprehensive country-by-country guide that includes general information as well as details on where to find help. By using this guide, expats and travellers can comply with specific country requirements, limit exposure to others and help to flatten the curve.

3. Preventing infection and spread of the virus
We all know we should avoid touching our face to prevent the Corona virus from getting us sick. But this is easier said than done.
Slightly Robot (USA) redesigned their wearable that stops another type of harmful touching - trichotillomania, a disorder that compels people to pull out their hair to one that prevents you from touching your face. The Immutouch wristband senses your hand movement 10 times per second and will vibrate once you touch your face. This way Slightly Robot will support you in the fight against getting yourself infected with COVID-19.

4. Offering relief to the overloaded GP offices
A lot of people with symptoms are in doubt if they have corona. Doctors appointments cause unnecessary movement and physical contact that increases the risk of further spread. Next to that, physical appointments are extremely time consuming and causes the first line of medical aid to be overloaded.
In order to help the people as well as the medical system, AXA Belgium developed a digital medical consult. Patients dial in, answer a few questions and receive an appointment with the doctor. A doctor calms, advices or refers a patient. With teleconsultation the risk of spreading the virus is reduced, while the first aid line is still available for those who need it.

5. Lightening the workload in hospitals
Every day we read about the patient flows resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak, leading to increased scarcity of critical care capacity.
Philips provides healthcare institutions with telehealth solution to process healthcare requests via online screening. Patients infected with the virus can be remotely monitored through automated questionnaires about their home situation and state of health. The telehealth solution aims to prevent unnecessary visits to hospitals and enables the remote monitoring of the vast majority of COVID-19 patients that are in quarantine at home as an alternative point of care.

6. Securing sufficient resources for medical aid
In many countries there is a genuine fear that the number of emergency ventilators and other equipment to treat COVID-19 patients is not enough, even leading to a run on equipment. But there are also new initiatives to produce more quickly and efficient.
To be able to save as many lives as possible, Munich Re and Frauenhofer Research Institute the Give A Breath Challenge to find the best 3D-printable designs to enable immediate, decentralised production. A jury will decide on the best design and this design will eventually be produced. The challenge has funding (for prize purses and a realisation fund) of at least €1 million.

7. Understanding COVID-19 better to predict and contain the virus
The current pandemic asks for a speed up in processing test results for COVID-19. But how can you speed things up when test results need to be put into spreadsheets manually, taking several hours or longer to complete?
UiPath (Romania/USA) launched a pilot project with software robots that can sort and distribute test results from the hospital’s on-site lab in minutes, enabling staff to quickly put infection prevention and control measures in place where necessary. By automating the process, nurses and other specialists in the hospital’s infection control department are freed up to spend more time with patients.

8. Maintaining personal well-being in pandemic times
Maintaining healthy habits and personal well-being during a pandemic can be difficult.
Virgin Pulse (UK) offers their members a specific toolkit and integrated programs to track Covid-19 healthy habits To ensure people stay mentally, physically and financially fit. This self-service hub, available in 100+ languages, serves as a ‘COVID-19 Homebase’. They teamed up with Aaptiv, Enrich, meQuilibrium, Monj, Whil and Zipongo to provide free access to health and wellbeing programs and resources for people to navigate this pandemic in a positive, healthy way. Examples include cardio classes, chef-led cooking demos and mindfulness audios put into a gamified app that offers challenges and rewards to track your healthy habits.


Reggy De Feniks

Speaker/author 'Reinventing Financial Services'​, 'Reinventing Customer Engagement'​. Partner 9Senses and co-founder DIA

Roger Peverelli

Co-founder Digital Insurance Agenda. Speaker / author Customer Engagement, Innovation, Fintech, Insurtech.