How Canara HSBC Life Insurance Optimized Costs and Claims Processing with MongoDB

Oliver Tree

Since 2008, Canara HSBC Life Insurance has focused relentlessly on bringing a fresh perspective to an industry known more for stability and conservatism rather than innovation. Since its inception in 2008 as a joint venture between Canara Bank and HSBC Insurance, Canara HSBC Life Insurance has strived to differentiate itself from the competition through enhanced customer interactions, launching cutting-edge digital products, and integrating digital services that cater to the evolving needs of customers.

For the past six years Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Sachin Dutta, has been on a mission to bring this customer-first mindset to the digital products and touchpoints his team creates.

Speaking at MongoDB’s annual .local developer conference in Delhi, Dutta outlined Canara HSBC Life Insurance’s ongoing digital transformation journey, and how his team's focus on customer success and business efficiency led them to work with MongoDB for improved efficiencies and results.

“I truly value the partnership we have with MongoDB. We are building a future-ready organization, and this partnership clearly helps us achieve our aim of reaching the last mile possible in customer servicing.

Mr. Sachin Dutta, Chief Operating Officer, Canara HSBC

Modernizing the architecture and driving developer efficiency

Canara HSBC’s digital transformation was centered on three technical pillars: the cloud, analytics, and mobility. The company focused on creating a more integrated organization and automating manual processes within the system.

“We try to remove human intervention with a life insurance policy delivered in seconds and claims that are settled virtually in seconds,” Dutta says.

To get there, Canara HSBC Life Insurance had to move on from its existing architecture, which required multifaceted changes and several new implementations:

  • Monolithic applications made alterations a time-consuming process

  • A reliance on rigid relational databases prolonged development timelines, forcing developers to spend time wrangling data when they could be building better products for customers.

  • The fully on-premises system had supported the organization in the past but required future-proofing to support growth and deliver a better customer experience. Because of this valuable development time and money were spent managing, patching, and scaling databases, rather than getting new products into the hands of customers.

These technical issues impacted the speed of business, particularly during month-end and year-end data processing, when the volumes were high. In addition, batch processing stood in the way of creating the real-time availability of information customers wanted.

Dutta and his senior team also realized that their existing infrastructure would make it more challenging to find the right talent in the market, as the existing infrastructure was increasingly becoming outdated.

Dutta realized early on that, in order for Canara HSBC to attract and retain the best and brightest developers, the insurer had to offer the chance to work with the latest technologies. Platforms like MongoDB would be integral to this effort.

“I want to create an organization that is attracting talent and where people start to enjoy their work, and that benefit then gets passed on to the customers, ” Mr. Dutta says.

Looking to overhaul its existing infrastructure, Canara HSBC Life Insurance wanted to move fast and hire the talent required to best serve its end customers. Dutta summarized the situation succinctly: "We found that some of those relational structures that had worked for us would not take us through the next 10 years.”

Migrating to a secure, fully managed database platform

After evaluating the solutions on the market, the team decided to transition from their existing on-premises relational databases, like IBM DB2, MySQL, and Postgres, to MongoDB Atlas.

In the last six years of my work, I’m pleased to say that MongoDB has seamlessly integrated all the processes in the backend. We migrated from a completely legacy-based setup to the new fully managed MongoDB service to enhance IT productivity

Mr. Sachin Dutta

The first stage of the journey was moving from monolithic applications and relational databases to a microservices architecture. With its flexible schema and capabilities for redundancy, automation, and scalability, MongoDB served as the best partner to help facilitate the transition.

Next, the team moved to modernize key parts of the business, such as underwriting, freeing their data to power more automation in straight-through processing (STP) of policies and faster claims processing.

The adoption of a hybrid cloud model shifted Canara HSBC Life Insurance away from on-premises databases to MongoDB Atlas. As a fully managed cloud database, MongoDB Atlas solves issues related to scalability, database management, and overall reliability. MongoDB Atlas is also cloud agnostic, giving the insurance company an option to work with Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud.

Mongo Atlas’ BI Connector bridged the gap between MongoDB and traditional BI tools. This seamless integration allowed Canara HSBC Life Insurance to deploy its preferred reporting tools and, when coupled with MongoDB Atlas’ real-time analytics capability, made batch processing a thing of the past.

Halving delivery times and driving business efficiencies

Moving to MongoDB Atlas has had a profound impact on the breadth of digital experiences Canara HSBC Life Insurance can offer customers and the speed at which new products can be developed.

Something that used to take months, with the implementation of our new tools could be completed in a couple of weeks or days

Mr. Sachin Dutta

And it’s not only the customer experience and product delivery that has benefited from the partnership. Canara HSBC Life Insurance has also realized substantial efficiency gains and savings as a result of working with MongoDB.

We are leveraging artificial intelligence as a core capability to predict human behavior and auto-underwrite policies wherein around half of the policies issued today are issued by the system

Mr. Sachin Dutta

Highlighted results include:

  • Straight-through processing (STP) surged from 37% to an impressive 60%. This is set to increase further with AI/ML integrations and rule suggestions.

  • Policy issuance turnaround time improved by 60%.

  • Efficiency in operations led to a 20% cost-saving per policy issuance.

  • Canara HSBC experienced 2x top-line growth due to seamless integration with analytical tools.

Looking ahead, Canara HSBC Life Insurance has already outlined three key areas where the MongoDB partnership will grow.

First, Dutta wants to take advantage of MongoDB Atlas’ flexible document data model to collect and organize data on customers from across the business, making MongoDB Atlas the sole database at Canara HSBC Life Insurance and creating a true customer 360 data layer to power sophisticated data analytics. In financial services, this capability is referred to as know your customer (KYC).

“We want to build a data layer that provides a unique experience to the customer after getting to know them,” he says. “That’ll help the company generate better NPS scores and retain customers.”

Second, the adoption and integration of AI and machine learning tools also factor heavily into future plans. MongoDB Atlas, with its flexible schema, compatibility with various machine learning platforms, and AI-specific features — such as Vector Search and storage — is a good fit for the company.

In Dutta's words, "We are going to scale up and capture the GenAI space.”

Last, Dutta wants to take advantage of the MongoDB Atlas SQL interface, connectors, and drivers to augment business intelligence for reporting and precise SQL-based report conversions.