Protection plans are growing strongly for us; digital is a huge opportunity: Policybazaar CEO – ET BFSI
Q. How do you see the insurance space in the time of crisis?
In times of crisis, we start thinking about what could happen and whether we are protected or not against it. We look at it as protection products like health and term products to protect against death, disease and disability. Saving products essentially are a combination of savings as well as some insurance against death and finally mandatory products which are vehicle insurance. Trends are different in all three segments. Protection – Life & Health, a lot of demand is seen in this space on our platforms and is growing strongly for us at this point.
Some growth seen in the savings side, interestingly the Indian investor has started realizing there’s a time to buy when markets go down and not panic. Insurance savings tend to be long term, so that works well.
On the mandatory products (mandated by law – vehicle insurance), April was not so good, people realized that lockdown was there and didn’t feel the need to renew their policies.
As restrictions over lockdown ease seeing traction in the motor and two-wheeler segment as well.Q. Is there any uptake on Covid-19 specific products?
Covid-19 products have sold well but on our platform comprehensive policies have seen an uptake and that’s what we recommend people. As these days any sort of major disease can set a person backwards due to the heavy cost incurred for medical expenses.
So on our platform people are more interested in comprehensive health covers, over the last six months we have introduced products which had high sum assured from Rs 30 lakh to Rs 1 crore and these products have taken up a large portion of our business.
Consumers are getting smarter and smarter and buying products which are good in the long run and not just against covid-19.
Q. Operational Impact on Policybazaar?
Priority was to ensure safety of our employees and their families, we prepared over two weeks to ensure sales agents can work from home. The Tech, IT & Ops team did a marvelous job and haven’t missed a beat. Thankful to our employees for working hard during this lockdown phase.
As other physical channels were not present we wanted to be available not only for our customers but our insurance partners as well. We also look at the risk side of our insurance partners to ensure not only do we sell products but also a profitable partner.
So we had to make changes to some flows as physical and medical are not possible during this period and worked towards tele-medical, video-medical, etc.
A lot of work has been done in the last 8 weeks on all three fronts, employees, consumers & insurance partners.
Q. Going forward, what’s the priority?
Our focus has always been on death, disease and disability for protecting the middle class for the last 12 years. Now I think it’s an opportunity for us, once people get used to buying digitally they feel that they will realise the convenience and value we can provide.
After this our market share should really go up and to make sure that works we are ensuring our processes are in place as we certainly see social distancing and avoidance of physical contact will remain for a while.
We are modifying processes to do everything digitally as far as possible and we’re working hard with insurance partners to bring new products and more of their products for consumers and it’s a big opportunity for us.
Q, How has the partnerships evolved with insurers?
We would like to believe we are a typical distributor and not only think about sales but we think about underlying risk, profitability of insurance partners. In the long run only those people will be able to do business together who can contribute to each other’s goals.
So over a decade we’ve focused on bringing good business to the table and measure risk accurately.
The digital medium is the most transparent channel as communications are on recorded lines, all the click history is available to us and insurance partners, so I think what we’ve tried ourselves is to ensure transparency with consumers and insurance.
Distribution+ model as we help insurers with insights and intelligence to develop products and sometimes even trust products.
Q. Which are the emerging risks?
The core risk is more important although the cyber-risk is also important. But if you see the penetration in India is at sub 5% level then the core risk is something that should be worked upon.
The first order of business and focus should be on improving penetration and that’s also the number one priority for us.
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