One of Asia’s biggest insurance companies is entering the metaverse. Japanese firm Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co, a subsidiary of Tokio Marine Holdings, Inc, is bringing its services and operations to Virtual Reality, giving clients the opportunity to interact with sales clerks and browse and buy insurance products.
This isn’t some far-sighted vision for the future, either: the company will start offering insurance and other policies via virtual avatars representing human customer service/sales clerks this month.
Marketing Insurance in the Metaverse
The Japan News, a daily English-language paper published by The Yomiuri Shimbun, broke the news on December 29, revealing that customers would be able to complete forms, receive and send policy documents, and finalize contracts in the metaverse from January onwards.
According to the newspaper, Tokio Marine & Nichido is the first Japanese firm to sell insurance in the metaverse. The company joins a host of other Japanese entities already active in this space, including ad agency Hakuhodo DY, gaming firm Gumi Partners, and major bank MUFG.
In the case of Tokio Marine & Nichido, whose parent company manages a global workforce of 39,000, the metaverse in question will be Virtual Akiba World (VAW), a digital simulacrum of Akihabara Station and the surrounding area. VAW will host the insurer’s services, enabling virtual consultations relating to car, fire and golf insurance.
Interestingly, Tokio Marine & Nichido will also give users the opportunity to pilot a flying vehicle in Virtual Akiba World, as a means of establishing their preferred style of driving. Such add-ons are a key seller of metaverse technologies, where the limitations of the physical world simply do not apply.
Virtual Akiba World launched last March as a co-venture between Japanese railway company JR East, event planning specialist Hikki, and cellphone giant NTT Docomo. The metaverse lets users board trains at the Akihabara Station in Tokyo’s Chiyoda ward, browse the region’s famous electronic shopping district, make purchases of real-world items, and interact with other users.
Although Tokio Marine & Nichido is said to be the first Japanese insurer exploring opportunities in the metaverse, a recent report by PwC outlines a number of business opportunities that could strengthen the insurance value chain.
These include the ability to conduct damage investigations via digital twins, the use of immersive experiences to boost user awareness of insurance need, and the development of insurance products for specific risks encountered in the metaverse itself.
Insurance firms might also consider implementing VR/AR technologies for staff training purposes, creating virtual training scenarios that eliminate the need for visits to distressing sites of natural disasters like tsunamis or earthquakes.