India’s insurance market is going through a revolutionary change. To keep pace with the changing requirements of today’s millennials, several insurance start-ups have come forward to break the complexity of the insurance market. Mumbai-based Global-India Insurance Broker's Pvt Ltd (GIIB) is one of them. Founder and managing director Abhay Deep attributes the flurry of activity to its seamless paperless and multi-product interface, API integration with insurers, and AI/ML-based solutions which helped them to cater to their customers better. GIIB's IT team is busy developing and designing new innovative products to corner a larger pie of the growing insurance market, Abhay Deep said in an interview with Outlook Money. Edited Excerpts.
As insurance agents, what steps were your firm compelled to take to service clients battling with the Covid-19 pandemic?
Insurance is mostly believed to be a face-to-face channel. As soon as the Covid-19 lockdown was announced, insurance sales and service took a backseat. Though we have been a technology-based online insurance solutions provider since our inception in 2015, we too got impacted by the pandemic. After the first few weeks, our team learnt afresh about technology, customer orientation, alteration in operations to make the front-end easy for customers so that they can access it virtually. We realised the urgent need to offer contactless service to clients. Our advisors, who were working from home, started transacting business online - downloading brochures, and taking sessions with customers online. Policy issuance systems got redefined and have now become an OTP verified proposal form. We moved and learned what would have taken 5 to 7 years in normal circumstances.
The in-house IT team developed innovative solutions so that we could reach our clients located in remote areas. We started offering motor, group, health, travel, marine, and shop insurance policies which were available only offline. We intend to launch these services in regional languages soon.
Insurance startup firms like ours also helped insurers meet the new business premium targets. We quickly trained our advisors, which helped the insurance industry to witness a revival from July onwards. Till March 31, 2021, we roped in five lakh new retail customers to our clientele list. The list is expected to grow many-fold.
How has the pandemic impacted the insurance business?
The pandemic has changed the landscape of the Indian insurance industry in a big way. Insurance is gradually being seen as a pull, rather than a push, product. For the first time, customers are asking insurers about the right protection products that would meet their needs. This apart, digitisation has been the key pillar in the growth of the insurance ecosystem — from marketing and policy issuance to claim submission. In the new normal, digitisation will make insurance businesses more customer-centric, cutting across every sphere of customer experience - claims efficiency, fraud proofing, etc. Policy holder's adaption to digital processes without hesitation was also a driving factor behind the growth of the industry, especially the life and health sectors.
The financial impact of Covid will take time to play out and will be mostly (re) insurer-specific. It is likely to depend on the circumstances of each enterprise — the classes and mix of business they underwrite, their pricing, policy wordings, and reinsurance coverages.
Did the industry witness a high volume of claims?
Of the 19,11,384 Covid health claims received by insurance players till June 22, some 15,39,434 have already been settled for an amount over Rs 15,000 crore. This represents about 80 per cent of the claims getting settled as far as medical insurance or hospitalisation is concerned. As far as death claims are concerned, which are handled by the life insurers, about 55,276 claims have been intimated. Of that, around 88 per cent or 48,484 claims amounting to Rs 3,593 crore have already been settled.
Life and non-life insurers have managed well despite the pandemic ending the year 2020-21 with a growth of about 9 per cent.
With the Covid-19 pandemic proving beyond doubt that having an insurance cover is no longer an option, the insurance industry and the sector regulator have been working together during the pandemic to design new policies to cater to the demand of new and unprecedented situations.