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First AI chatbot for travel insurance queries on FB Messenger, thanks to Income

Singapore’s blue-collar insurance agency National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) Income has launched the first unguided conversational travel insurance chatbot on mobile messaging application, Facebook Messenger, in Singapore.

Taking on the persona ‘Jiffy Jane’, the chatbot acts like one’s personal travel insurance concierge who’s always online to assist customers’ queries on travel insurance and to enable the purchase of suitable plans ‘in a jiffy’.

The company co-innovated ‘Jiffy Jane’ with Zumata, one of the nine start-ups selected for Income’s InsurTech accelerator programme, ‘Income Future Starter, powered by TAG.PASS’.

Income’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Tay said the idea is to serve up travel insurance options for instant purchases when required with the click of a button. “Customers, especially the millennial, are used to accessing a range of services and products on their mobile devices. As such, it is natural that more customers expect insurance products to also be available online, customised to their needs in a very short span of time.”

The Income travel insurance chatbot was soft launched on August 1 this year and to date, there have been over 1,100 chat sessions with ‘Jiffy Jane’, which saw some 780 unique users. These conversations led to a total of 30 completed transactions during this period.

Tay added, “In Singapore, seven in 10 people are active users of social media on their mobile devices. This figure doubles the global average of 34 per cent. As such, ‘Jiffy Jane’ on Facebook Messenger complements consumers’ increasingly mobile-first lifestyle, instantly serving up travel insurance options for purchase when requested 24/7.”

Unlike traditional bots, starting a conversation with ‘Jiffy Jane’ is akin to looking up a friend on Facebook Messenger. ‘Jiffy Jane’ leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to interact with customers in a conversation style as it is trained to recognise user intentions.

When a customer initiates the chat, ‘Jiffy Jane’ will prompt for information on the customer’s travel destination, departure date and trip duration. Based on the details provided, ‘Jiffy Jane’ will suggest travel insurance options, complete with plan benefits, for the customer to review and choose as an individual, for a group or the family.

To obtain a price quotation from ‘Jiffy Jane’ on the chosen travel insurance plan, the customer is only required to provide key details of travellers, e.g. name, gender, nationality, identification card number and birth date.

‘Jiffy Jane’ supports credit-card payment for a travel insurance plan by Income. Upon purchase of the travel insurance plan successfully, ‘Jiffy Jane’ will notify the customer and send an email with a copy of the policy document within two working days.

Tay added, “The popularity of chatbots has been on the rise especially after Facebook launched chatbots in Messenger. We aim to tap on the synergies between Income and start-ups like Zumata so that the customers’ experience with insurance is made simpler, more accessible and most importantly, relevant to all.”

The chatbot is Singapore's first interactive software.
The chatbot is Singapore's first interactive software. Photo courtesy: NTUC Income

‘Jiffy Jane’ is the latest digital insurance solution by Income. To chat with ‘Jiffy Jane’, simply launch

Recently, Income launched the industry’s first accident-reporting mobile application for its motor policyholders to file an accident report remotely. Earlier this year, Income embedded cognitive technologies operationally by adopting IBM Watson Explorer to automate and improve its efficiency of pre- and post-hospitalisation claims. It also partnered Qoo10 Singapore to launch Purchase Guard, an insurance policy that protects online purchases of defective electronic goods.

In 2016, Income revolutionised the motor insurance industry with the introduction of two innovative motor insurance schemes – Drive Master and FlexiMileage – that leverage telematics to personalise insurance based on an individual’s driving behaviour.

Income was established in 1970 to provide affordable insurance to workers in Singapore. Today, two million people in Singapore look to Income for trusted advice and solutions when making their most important financial decisions. In 2016, Income had over SGD32.9 billion in assets under management.

Tushaar Kuthiala
Tushaar Kuthiala – Associate Editor

Tushaar has extensive experience as a journalist and in founding two start-up newspapers. He has developed editorial models for both copy and content, and has written several articles, news reports on a wide range of topics. He is a graduate of St. Stephen’s College and earned a post-graduate diploma in TV Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), Chennai. He has worked as a special correspondent based in New Delhi with Daily World, an international media organisation.