You just got off the plane, your first stop - the car rental agency. As you complete an application for your rental vehicle, the sales agent draws your attention to a short paragraph on the screen: “Your liability in case of an accident is R20 000”. A chill runs down your spine, “this could really hurt my wallet!”

CarSure, an insurance product underwritten by Guardrisk, part of Momentum Metropolitan Holdings Limited, allows travellers to indemnify themselves against hair-raising excess amounts when renting a car. This on-demand insurance cover was one of the first products launched on Root in 2018. Back then, Root helped the CarSure team materially increase their call-centre efficiency and extend sales beyond their traditional call-centre channel into a brand new CarSure website. The website allows users to get covered in less than two minutes.

On the road

Travelling is inherently stressful. There’s always pressure to be on time and not to forget anything. Remembering to take excess buy down cover for a rental car is just one more item on the traveller’s endless to-do list.

CarSure wanted to make it even easier and more convenient for travellers to get excess buy down cover, as they felt their new website still had too much friction to create a seamless experience for their travelling customers.

Root meeting CarSure team at Guardrisk offices on WhatsApp chatbot launch

Dewald meeting CarSure team members, Timothy and Thapelo, at Guardrisk’s offices in Sandton.

The WhatsApp Business APIs launched recently, allowing companies to deliver better customer support and sales through WhatsApp. The potential benefits for the insurance industry are far-reaching, as captured by RGA’s Jean-Louis Fourie’s insightful take on the WhatsApp Insurance Revolution – how WhatsApp can super-charge customer engagement in insurance.

CarSure believed they could streamline their policy onboarding flow significantly with an automated chatbot, using WhatsApp, South Africa’s most widely used messaging platform1.

When the fun started

Early in August, during a regular client check-in between Root and the CarSure team, the idea of unlocking WhatsApp as a new channel for selling insurance policies was pitched. We were immediately on board to help CarSure make it a reality.

Using Simon van Dyk’s article on designing and building a chatbot on Root as guidance, the CarSure team got to work.

The first objective was to flesh out the chatbot’s conversation flow, optimizing for the most efficient conversation, whilst maintaining a top-class customer experience. Here is one of the Google Slides used to sketch out the flow as they went through several quick iterations:

Root Insurance WhatsApp Chatbot Conversation Flows Diagram

After the conversation flow was finalised and approved by Guardrisk, Root connected the CarSure team to an experienced contract software developer to help them rapidly deliver on this ambitious plan.

Using Root’s developer-friendly insurance APIs and real-time webhooks, together with Dialogflow for natural-language processing (converting speech to machine instructions), and Twilio to access WhatsApp, the developer could quickly piece together the building blocks and bring this new insurance chatbot to life.

Root Insurance WhatsApp Chatbot Stack - Twilio, Dialogflow, Root API

A first in South Africa

On the 23rd of August, two weeks later, the first CarSure policy was sold through their new chatbot. WhatsApp as a distribution channel now enables CarSure to better capture their target market by optimising their customer’s journey and taking out pain points – insurance the way it should be.

“The extraordinary speed with which our new WhatsApp Bot, using the Root insurance APIs, went from concept to launch was impressive! Now we can focus on marketing and driving more sales through this exciting new channel.”

- Richard Eales (Non-Life Managing Executive at Guardrisk)

Having the relevant building blocks available finally makes it possible for innovators in insurance to re-imagine and radically improve customer experiences – really fast!

Using Root’s insurance APIs, CarSure managed to launch what is arguably South Africa’s first insurance product sold through an automated WhatsApp chatbot2. It all took a mere two weeks! Insurance innovation, one building block at a time.

You can access the bot directly from CarSure’s website, here.

We’re all about helping innovators unlock new value by packaging the complexities of financial services behind simple to use APIs. If you are interested in using WhatsApp to improve your insurance business today, get in touch with us at [email protected].

**Footnotes** (1) (2) We’ve searched long and far to find another WhatsApp chatbot that can issue a policy in South Africa to no prevail. If you know of any, please let us know!