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"Making the incomprehensible understandable – a major challenge for insurers" Pierre Guillocheau

It is no exaggeration to say that our social protection system is complex and confusing. Who has never felt great uncertainty when confronted with significant life events such as hospitalisation, major dental treatment, a long work stoppage or the prospect of retirement? What financial impacts will there be? What approach should I take? Who should I talk to?

"Making the incomprehensible understandable –  a major challenge for insurers" Pierre Guillocheau

Our social protection system suffers from a paradox: although globally and macroeconomically efficient, it proves to be extremely complex and even Kafkaesque for everyone concerned on a daily basis.

And very often, the reforms – which of course start out with positive intentions – end up simply adding to the complexity. The “100% Health” reform, whose goal of eliminating the need to forego healthcare due to high levels of out-of-pocket expenses can only be praised, will prove confusing for policyholders at the operational level. In addition to depending on the behaviour of the health professionals concerned, each of us will need to develop detailed knowledge of the different types of fees that apply according to the position of the teeth and the types of material used, for example...

Although the PACTE (Action Plan for Corporate Growth and Transformation) Law creates a form of harmonization between the various current schemes, it nevertheless continues to enable the coexistence of multiple different offerings and products. And the pension reform that is taking shape, whose goal of convergence towards a single system is unquestionably salutary, will result in an interim period in which the old and new “schemes” will coexist – no doubt with many exceptions.

In short, seen from the “consumer citizen’s” perspective, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find one’s way through the social protection maze.

In this context, the insurer’s role must be adapted to provide better responses to changing consumer expectations and behaviours.

In this global universe of overlapping players and successive reforms, a growing demand for simplification of the customer relationship can be observed at all levels – retail, professional and corporate. The sector still suffers from a very “bureaucratic” image and appears to be lagging somewhat behind practices observed in banking, for example. There is considerable room for improvement in the digitalisation of “self-care”. While efforts have focused on improving the relationship with retail customers, the processes used for corporate clients are still often perceived as very burdensome.

A new way of communicating with customers must also be found. Who can really make sense of % BR, PMSS, quarters and points? It is essential for items to be systematically expressed in euros, and with regard to the reforms, the general public falls well short of fully comprehending the key issues and practical implications, both in health care with an accelerating series of changes (responsible policies, “100% Health” reform), and in pensions with the arrival of complex and potentially anxiety-inducing legislation (PACTE Law and pension reform).

In addition, the notion of immediacy remains underdeveloped in our business lines. In the health field, the “100% Health” reform imposes the obligation to share examples of out-of-pocket expenses with customers, but in the era of instant information, can we still tolerate not having this information in real time for all types of cover? For top-up pensions, is it acceptable for people to be denied an overview of their future pension payments at any time? How can we encourage employees to make individual payments if we cannot show them how these payments will affect their future pensions?

Beyond these issues, customers expect their insurer to be more present and proactive, to explain the reforms to them, and to notify them of need to optimise their health and pension pathways, for example. More generally, our profession is confronted with an essential need to embark on the “mass customisation” of customer relations: this will require the adaptation of pathways, advice and support in terms of social protection according to people’s ages, situations and behaviours, while managing massive volumes of business.

Like all the service sectors, personal insurance must overcome powerful challenges in order to transform its relationships with customers. The accelerating pace of the reforms makes this an even more pressing requirement. This may be a threat, but it also provides a precious opportunity to transform customers’ perceptions of the value that their insurer brings them.

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